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icon2.gif  Search PDF annotations only [message #1589] Tue, 06 December 2022 03:34 Go to next message
hyjwonder
Messages: 5
Registered: December 2022
Junior Member
Hi, when you search in a bunch of PDF files, is there a way to search only the annotations? i.e. only the highlighted text, text annotations, etc., while ignoring all other parts of the PDF file.
Re: Search PDF annotations only [message #1590 is a reply to message #1589] Tue, 06 December 2022 04:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Atlas
Messages: 129
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
I don't think it's possible to search for pdf annotations, either in Spotlight, Foxtrot, or any other text indexer. That's because the annotation layer is not part of the text in the pdf file. This is why there are solutions Adobe Acrobat, "PDF Expert" and "PDF Reader Pro" that allows you to add annotation as a searchable text layer to your pdf. Maybe someone else can correct me, but if you take notes by adding annotation to your pdf ... then they're pretty much not searchable. UNLESS, you export the annotations of your pdf to a separate text file; then you can search that exported annotation. Some solutions like Devonthink and PDF Expert Pro will let you export annotations.
Re: Search PDF annotations only [message #1623 is a reply to message #1590] Thu, 16 February 2023 12:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
hyjwonder
Messages: 5
Registered: December 2022
Junior Member
Thank you. Then it's quite a pity...
Re: Search PDF annotations only [message #1631 is a reply to message #1623] Fri, 17 February 2023 02:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
johseb
Messages: 6
Registered: February 2023
Junior Member
Actually Devonthink can search for pdf annotations. Honestly if DT can do it I think FoxTrot should do it as well. I already sent a feature request a long time ago but no joy.

A poor man solution could be the following:
1. Extract pdf annotations in a text file
2. Save the file in the same folder of the pdf "myPDF.pdf" with name "myPDF_annotations.txt"
3. Performing a search that matches the annotation text file you can read the annotation in FT preview and/or reveal the annotations text file in Finder e open the original pdf (that sits near its annotation text file if you name them as indicated)

Of course the procedure must be automatised and, even in that case, is boring and prone to oversights (forget to generate the text file when closing the pdf in a hurry).
You could do it when the annotations are of paramount importance or for frozen pdf (that you don't plan to further annotate)

I hope that FT will get this feature sooner or later.
Re: Search PDF annotations only [message #1640 is a reply to message #1631] Sat, 04 March 2023 16:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Atlas
Messages: 129
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
@johseb. I recently have a use case where I need to search annotations. How have you managed to search for the highlighted text and annotations of pdf files in Devonthink?? I can search for documents that have been annotated, but I can't search the actual annotations ... unless of course I export the annotations. You probably won't see this message, but please chime in if you do. Thanks.
Re: Search PDF annotations only [message #1641 is a reply to message #1640] Sat, 04 March 2023 17:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
johseb
Messages: 6
Registered: February 2023
Junior Member
I'm using three types of annotations to comment my PDFs: highlights, free text, notes.

Highlights: the highlighted text is obviously found (in both DT3 and FT) since it is part of the PDF text but there's no way to limit the search to highlighted text. If this is what you're after I think you're out of luck.

Free text (text visible on the page) and notes (the notes that pop-up from a callout icon): I can confirm they are searchable in DT3 while they're lost in FT. Again it is not possible to limit the search to text contained in these types of annotations but at least they're found.

If you need to limit the search to annotations (text you highlighted or you added) the only option, as you wrote, is to export the annotations.
Re: Search PDF annotations only [message #1646 is a reply to message #1641] Mon, 06 March 2023 20:56 Go to previous message
Atlas
Messages: 129
Registered: August 2009
Senior Member
@johseb. Thanks for chiming in and letting me know how you're solving the problem by using Devonthink! Devonthink does make it easy to export annotations, but it's just annoying to keep refreshing the export. I might have to write a script for it.
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