Save PDF annotations to a notes file

If you are a researcher then you prob­a­bly anno­tate PDFs of papers and oth­er stuff. If, like me, you work in the Apple/OSX envi­ron­ment you may be using Skim to read and anno­tate. Skim allows you to save the anno­ta­tions in their own ‘side­car’ file for­mat and to copy/paste the text of the annotations.

But you may want to save the anno­ta­tions as a more use­ful record of your research e.g. in Devon­Think or Eagle­Filer or — where I now pre­fer to keep my text records — in nvAlt. In any of these pro­grams you can eas­i­ly search in serendip­i­tous ways through your anno­ta­tions, mak­ing and re-dis­cov­er­ing con­nec­tions as well as find­ing that elu­sive quote.

It helps a lot, too, if the anno­ta­tions include a link back to the page of the PDF file where you first made them (assum­ing that page/file is still where it was when you made the annotation).

This real­ly sim­ple script — derived shame­less­ly on the work of oth­ers — is a way to do that. Min­i­mal instruc­tions for the set-up are includ­ed. Just open the link below, select and copy the text to the Apple­Script edi­tor (in ~/Applications/Utilities).

You’ll find there are three items: a main script; plus a “helper” script that you will need to save sep­a­rate­ly as a small Apple­Script appli­ca­tion; plus an insert for the “info.plist” file that Apple­Script makes, auto­mat­i­cal­ly, for the application.


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