Import Notes/Comments Only, from PDF

Is it possible to import into Scrivener only the notes/comments from a PDF? Thx! kraml

No, this isn’t possible. I’d see if your PDF program can export the notes alone, into an RTF or plain-text file or such, and then import that.

have you tried selecting/copying the text in either the Adobe reader or Adobe Acrobat, then pasting it into a text file in Scrivener?

works for me

I can drag text note by note, but in some cases I have hundreds in a single PDF. Thx!

I found a solution for this!
It’s not elegant, and I WISH Scrivener could interact productively with PDFs, but this workaround gets the job done. If you have many comments, this is a way to extract them out of a PDF file. It can also extract any text that is highlighted if you have set Acrobat to create comments from highlighted text. (In “Commenting Preferences,” check the option for “Copy selected text into Highlight, Strikethrough, and Underline comment pop-ups.” Highlighting that was done before turning on that setting will not be extracted.) (Also not sure why Adobe doesn’t have a cleaner text-export for comments, since the “Comment Summary” Acrobat produces is not a useful format.)

Docear, a free program, is designed to be a bibliographic manager and a mindmapping and writing tool:
It’s an interesting program, though the learning curve is a bit steep. It displays PDF comments and makes them portable. This is how I use it to extract my comments from PDFs:

  1. Create a new mindmap in Docear, with a “node” (a branch of the map, call it PDF Collection or whatever) into which you can place your PDFs.
  2. Drag a PDF from the file browser (windows explorer) onto the node.
  3. The PDF file will appear as a new branch (a child node) from your collection, labeled with the title of the PDF file. Your comments will appear as branches coming off of the PDF file node. You might also discover additional metadata that was included in the PDF by the publisher as bookmarks, which may or may not be useful. If you don’t need that info with your PDF, you can usually delete it first in Acrobat from the bookmarks tab. If you want to keep it in the PDF but don’t want it with your comments, you can delete those branches in the mindmap. You can also just collapse the branches with the publisher’s metadata, but I’ve found that for some reason there are multiple copies/levels of TOC information for the journal it came from, and I prefer to delete all of it to keep my notes tidier.
  4. Copy your comments. Standard selection/copy shortcuts work, so I click on the first comment, shift-click on the last comment, then Ctrl-C.
  5. Open the Notes field for that PDF/node. On the main toolbar, click on View; you’ll see the “Display Note Panel” button, and it opens the text field below the mindmap. Keep in mind that every node in the mindmap has a note field, so you’ll be looking at the note for whichever node is currently selected. So if you still have all of your comments selected, the note displayed below is for the first comment node in the selection. You can place your comments there if you like, or select the parent PDF node and place them in its note field. (I like to keep them under the PDF node rather than in the first comment node. First, when a node has notes, a little note icon appears before the node name (beside the PDF icon), and then even when all the comment nodes are collapsed I can see that I’ve got notes on that article, and when I hover over that icon I can see the contents of the note field. When the plain-text copy of the comments is kept with the first comment node, you have to expand all the comments in order to access it, and then you’ve got two copies of all the comments in the same view, which isn’t as useful.)
  6. Paste your comments into the note field. You have options to “Paste” or “Paste Plain Text,” but the plain text option will include the path for your PDF. So what I do is just Paste it, which will be formatted text, then select all and click “Remove Formatting” (the button is a B with a red circle/line).

That produces a plain-text copy of your PDF comments and highlights without all the metadata that Acrobat attaches to each one. If anyone knows a simpler way to do that I’d love to hear about it!

There are lots of neat functions in Docear, though I haven’t fully explored them all. When you click on a PDF icon, it opens the PDF file in your preferred program. When you click on the quotation icon before a PDF comment, it opens it to that exact place in the PDF. The mind-mapping options are cool, though personally I couldn’t use that as my outlining/writing hub and I found the bibliographic manager a bit unintuitive.

I wish Scrivener could handle these details of PDFs, but for now this is my workaround.