Services don't seem to work

I am trying to use Services->Scrivener->Append Selection to Current Document, but can not seem to get it to work all the time.

It seems to work when I highlight web pages, work most of the time in text docs (.doc, .rtf) but most of my research is in PDFs, and this is where I can seldom get it to work.

If I highlight a selection in a pdf, I can drag and drop to Scrivener, but I can not get the same selection to work using Services. Most of the time the menu is greyed out, but even when it is not grey, choosing Services->Scrivener->Append Selection to Current Document does not append the selection from the PDF.

My goal is to get this working, and assign a keystroke to the menu choice, maybe through Quicksilver or Service Scrubber. If anyone has done the keystroke assignment, I would liek to hear how it is accomplished.

First step though: getting Services->Scrivener->Append Selection to Current Document to work. Any ideas?

This grabs text reliably for me using Skim as the PDF reader.

You can set a keyboard shortcut for the service in System Preferences/Keyboard & Mouse/Keyboard Shortcuts.


I use Skim as well, and it does not work for me. I tried the note/highlight tool and the select tool, but the Services menu for Scrivener is greyed out in Skim.

Are all PDFs created equal? Are there types of PDFs that the append command will not work with?

How about the Text Tool?


Thanks Dave, Text Tool solved it. I added the keyboard shortcut per your instructions, and I am good to go.



I’ll stick my neck out here and say “Not all PDFs are created equal”. It seems clear to me that some PDFs are text based – those created by for instance, and I presumably those produced by Acrobat working on text files … whose format I guess must be related to postscript – but others are images, produced by graphics programs perhaps, screen shots, scanned documents that have not been OCRed, etc.
You can highlight and extract text from the former type – though if the document is in two columns it can be a bit of a pain as the text will be interleaved in some manner – but not from the latter, as they must be raster images.


  • NOTE: This thread has been moved to Technical Support, where it belongs. Please note the description of the “Tips & Tricks” forum which states: “Note: please post support questions in Technical Support, and make sure the tips and tricks here relate to Scrivener only. Thanks!” *

Thanks to Dave for answering this one and clearing it up - I’m glad you got it working. Dave, yes, you are correct - some PDFs are indeed text-based, and can therefore have their text selected, whilst others are image-based so that their text is treated as one big image and cannot be selected.

Although in this case, Skim should (and ultimately did) work with Scrivener’s Services menu, note that the Services menus (I think, I haven’t double-checked the docs here but I’m fairly sure this is the case) only work with Cocoa applications. So, they won’t work with programs such as Acrobat or Word, for instance, which are Carbon.

All the best,

Good info in this thread, for me at least.

As for selecting text from a multi column PDF, hold the option key down to select from one column only.

I did not know about the carbon/cocoa thing either. I usually use Skim, but some of my protected docs only open in Acrobat, and selecting and appending from Acrobat was impossible. Skim looks better every day.

There is another relevant way in which not all PDFs are created equal. Some PDFs, while text-based, are nonetheless specifically set to block the text copy function. This is one of the protection options available in Acrobat, for example.


Me too, I didn’t know about that one, so thanks for that.

Mmm … if you do a print to PDF, “Security Options” or some such comes up at the bottom of the dialog. I’ve never explored it, but it might do the same, and that would be good for me. Thanks for the info.