Highlighting PDF's

I understand that this has been requested before, and the reply is “Scrivener will never be a PDF editor. If it allowed PDF annotations, what about image editing? And HTML editing? And QuickTime editing… And so on. PDFs in Scrivener are for reference only.”

If there is a technical reason why it would not be possible to include a PDF highlight function within Scrivener, I can understand why it is not there. But if the rationale rests on a point of principle - ie non-editing of reference material - I would like to suggest that the option be reconsidered.

I submit that to highlight a PDF is not ‘editing’ in the same way as adding text or altering an image. Highlighting is in fact a reference tool - it aids future reference to information, especially useful when using multiple PDF’s. If there were a handy highlighter for PDF’s in Scrivener, PDFs in Scrivener would remain for reference only.

Thanks for your consideration and thanks for Scrivener!

I think it is more of a technical thing that a philosophical thing. In other words, the amount of programming required to add text annotations to PDFs, as compared to the amount of time required to add highlighters to PDFs is about equal—and both would require a fairly substantial amount of development time. So it isn’t so much about what is or is not “editing” or “research”, and more simply that adding a highlighter would take a lot amount of work and research to do something that already exists quite nicely in at least two other PDF dedicated applications.

Given that this has come up so often, I took another look at the PDFKit. It turns out that adding highlights isn’t as technically challenging as I thought. I have spent the last day adding this feature to 2.0. Highlighting PDF files will be simpler than highlighting text - you’ll just toggle the highlight on or off then use the colours palette to change the highlight colour.

Highlights are the only PDF-editing Scrivener will support, though.

All the best,

Will these highlights be Preview-esque in their portability? By that I mean: will a user be able to export or drag out their annotated PDF file from Scrivener and have the highlights remain?

Yes. They’re saved into the PDF - as Scrivener uses the PDFKit the same as Preview, the highlights will look and get saved identically to Preview. The only caveat is that they are Leopard-only, as the methods to create Preview-like highlights weren’t exposed before Leopard.
All the best,

  1. Thanks!

This alone is worth any upgrade fee you charge. Thanks


I’m guessing that this is completely out of the question, but would it be possible to have Scrivener 2.0 highlight the search term found in a pdf file (like it does in a text file)? This would immensely help me in my research.



mon10a: here is the relevant wish request: https://forum.literatureandlatte.com/t/highlighted-search-in-pdfs/2015/1

The trick from that article, is that when you press ⌘f after focusing the PDF the search term is automagically added to the search dialog so you just click next to get to each instance, no highlighting but at least you find what you want.