Two Windows Questions

Hello!

New to Scrivener, but really enjoying it so far. Two things I cannot seem to find on Google or by experience, though:

  1. How do you highlight PDFs on Windows? I found a tweet by Scrivener from 2012 seems to indicate there is an option to open it externally, but I can’t find anything in Scrivener 3.
  2. Is there a way to bookmark or link to a certain page within a document, particularly a PDF? I am working with long documents in my research folder and might want to cross-reference certain pages with my manuscript.

Thank you!

What do you mean by highlighting a PDF? Do you mean selecting it? Maybe you’ve dragged the PDF into Research or anywhere else but the Draft/Manuscript (you can’t put it in the Draft). In that case, it’s a document in the Binder. Select it by clicking on it.

Select the PDF (in the Binder) and open in the default external editor:

Not unless you can create (in some other app) a URL to that page. If the PDF is a webpage, the webpage has links you can use. Or you can divide the PDF into pages (in the other app) and link to them separately.

Sorry for not being clear! I’m looking to highlight text in a PDF - certain sentences, for example. My understanding is that I should be able to open it in an external editor, highlight it, then reopen it in Scrivener and have it highlighted.

I just tried to open it externally the way you suggested, and it worked, except that it then asks me to save the PDF after highlighting. How do I just get it back in Scrivener without re-importing it?

Thank you for your detailed answer!!

The Mac PDF display engine has the ability to add text highlights to the PDF in a basic way. That tweet was may have been referring to that. Unfortunately the PDF display engine we use on Windows does not have a similar capability, so you will need to use the external editor button / menu command, as noted above, to make annotations to the PDF.

I suspect most Mac users do that as well—because like I say, it’s very basic. You can’t even change the colour of the highlight.

I just tried to open it externally the way you suggested, and it worked, except that it then asks me to save the PDF after highlighting. How do I just get it back in Scrivener without re-importing it?

Yes, annotations are changes to the PDF itself, so you have to save it. Depending on how the annotations are saved, they may not show up in Scrivener, just so you know, but even if they do, you must reload the project to see them, as they have yet to add a refresh button.

When pdfs are part of a project, there is also the question of whether to have the actual pdf be an item in the Scrivener project, or only referenced as an “external” file, beyond Scrivener’s concern. I’ve generally chosen the latter, to keep my Scrivener project as light as possible, but also to avoid unnecessary duplication of the source pdf.

When I want to include a pdf in a scriv project, I create a binder doc where I want it, give it the name of the pdf, then (from Windows Explorer) drag the pdf right into that document’s edit window, where a link is created to the pdf. When clicked it opens right up in my pdf viewer. If the pdf is in a stable location, it should continue to work. And, as the pdf is updated, it should always open the most recent version, if it is saved with the same name and location.

Can anyone recommend a good pdf editor not made by Adobe, and not a subscription proposition?

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I tried several 3rd party pdf editors over the years, and all of them were terrible. I haven’t tried it again the past two or three years.

Makes sense, thank you!!

Ooh, that’s a neat trick. I’d prefer to do it that way, because all my PDFs are stored in the same place when I’m doing research anyway. I’ll give it a shot tomorrow!

Ditto on this. I spent a bunch of time trying to find an alternative, any alternative, to Adobe, and they were all really bad or equally expensive. Adobe has a monopoly on PDF editing software it seems.

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I use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. It’s fine and it’s free, but it doesn’t do much in the way of editing … and may not be available on Windows. The only editing I can think of needing is appending one document to another, and I think the Mac’s Preview app can do that.

@Mad_Girl_Disease: Can anyone recommend a good pdf editor not made by Adobe, and not a subscription proposition?

I use Okular which does everything I need of a reader and annotation tool. It’s available for Windows through the MS Store, and is free and open source. I’ve never used it on Windows, so I don’t know if it’s behind the curve or whatever, but I suspect given how it is ported, it may be very close to what I see on Linux.

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I’ve been reading pdfs in the free PDF-XChange Viewer for ages. My version has a copyright of 2014. It has pretty good annotation, which is mostly what I mean when I say pdf “editor”. But I occasionally want to add or remove pages from a pdf, or merge two pdfs, reorder pages, which this doesn’t do.

Okular looks very nice, but KDE looks more involved than the functionality is worth to me. But looking at it helps me see that I’ve got is actually working just fine.

When I have a mostly or all-text pdf, especially of some size, that I want to annotate and comment on, I will OCR it, and bring it into either Word or Scrivener.