SKIM - pdf option

In another post, Simon pointed out that Skim is a free alternative to Preview.

Thanks Simon - a really excellent tip. I have done the same.

There is a useful Wiki page on the application here: … /Main_Page


Cheers LL, my pleasure. A few things I like about Skim:

  • the full-screen mode, that gives easy access to table of contents on the left and list of notes on the right (drag mouse to the edge of the page)
  • the recent history of pages read, symbolised by darker shades the more recently they were viewed
  • the annotations get automatically added to the notes list, and are easily browsable and clicked-through.

I use Skim in combination with Yep or DEVONthink Pro, depending on the level of analysis I need (DEVONthink for the research and cross-linking, Yep for the quick point and click when I know what I want). For actually working on the pdf I open it in Skim. Once it is read, annotated, and deemed worthy, it goes into Scrivener’s Research folder where the real stuff happens :smiley:
Sadly, Scrivener doesn’t seem to keep Skim’s annotations… I just have to rely on Scrivener’s Scratch Pad, that I float in a corner (works fine in Skim’s full screen mode). :wink:

All the best,

With Skim, can you enter notes or comments on PDFs that are page images rather than text? A lot of my research consists of non-OCR’d scans.

Sure. It seems to work the same way as Preview, by overlaying rather than imbedding the notes. If that makes any sense at all… :confused:

Thanks, Simon. Definitely worth a look.

I agree that at version 0.3, Skim is a surprisingly nice tool for reading PDFs and taking notes.

From what I’ve seen, Skim stores annotations not in the PDF itself, but in extended file system meta-data. Since it doesn’t have to always write the entire PDF anew, Skim can save very quickly, but the drawback is that your notes are unlikely to ever appear in another application that opens the PDF unless you write the data into the PDF.

Given the way Skim uses meta-data, I like how you can set it to redundantly save that data in a .skim file, and also export your annotations to RTF, which I find is a great way to put together a brief summary of a document (and that can be imported into Scrivener or wherever).


Hi cyberspace.

You could set up your annotated and marked up Skim document and press print - but save it as a pdf instead. Then it all appears in Scrivener as a pdf.


That’s one way of “[writing] the data into the PDF”. The other is to use the “Export” option in the file menu. To be clear, your annotations will not be subsequently editable that way… Personally I’d rather just use Scrivener’s external editor feature and have my notes kept intact and editable!

Anyhow, like I said it’s a nice program at this early stage.


Thanks for the tip to this program, Lord Lightning. Looks like exactly what I need.

To keep track of the PDF source when I export the notes to Scrivener, I’m inserting a BookEnds citation code in a note near the title.

Very easy to use, and this will make skimming and organizing articles very easy. I like that it keeps track of page numbers automatically.