Highlighting text on macOS or iOS

Just wondering if anyone can help me with a small issue. I was quite reliant on a Mac app called highlights that would allow you to highlight text in a PDF and then export the highlights as a markdown file. Since updating to Catalina, the app doesn’t function properly (essentially all the highlights are out of order)… and more unfortunately it seems that the developer doesn’t have great support and hasn’t responded to any emails.

Is anyone aware of any other app that has this functionality on Mac or iPadOS?

The dev hasn’t been active on Twitter, but the webpage for the app says to contact him there. Maybe you can tweet at or DM him…

Otherwise I suggest you check out the freeware Skim PDF reader. for the Mac. With it you can save highlights as RTF (not Markdown) or save them all to a separate file. A list of all Help topics here:

https://skim-app.sourceforge.io/manual/SkimHelp_53.html

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Thanks for a great recommendation!

Seems much more powerful, and I am able to customise a text document export just the way I want!

WOW!

It might be overkill for just this purpose, but DEVONthink 3 has a “summarize highlights” feature, where you can select one or multiple PDF files, and a summary document will be created containing the highlights you’ve made in the PDF(s).

Before I switched to PDF Expert for my PDF reading (I don’t mark up or highlight) I used Skim extensively for years, and it’s still updated. Best of luck!

Hi Evan

I didn’t know about this feature! Seems very powerful and handy as I have just upgrade to DT3 (which is amazing BTW).

Are you aware of anyway to not have the highlights turned into rich text? Again, looking for plain text/markdown. Cheers

Not that I know of, unfortunately, but I haven’t delved into it too deeply. I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to create a workflow to convert it.

Sorry, if my responsiveness on Twitter and email has been poor, but Highlights is still very much in development. In fact I am hard at work on the new version with support for both iOS/iPadOS and macOS. However, if you have specific issues on Catalina with the current version of Highlights (v1.5.5) feel free to bring them up here. I would like to say that I do not recommend users of Highlights to update to Catalina yet as Apple has made changes to text selection in PDFs that make working with superscript citations (which is quite common in scientific articles) difficult. Hopefully this will be fixed in 10.15.2 :crossed_fingers:

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Thanks for getting back to me! I love your application, it is amazing and after trying skim on Catalina I have realised that the issue is indeed Catalina not you! So my apologies.

I have since downgraded back to Mojave and I am running Highlights in my usual workflow and breathing a sigh of relief.

Thanks for all your hard work and making a great application.

Also, is there are way to generate notes without the page numbers?

I don’t know of many solutions, but you could potentially use “TextSoap” to convert from RTF to Markdown.

No worries😊 There is currently no way of disabling the page numbers, but it is on my feature request list. I will add your vote to it!

PS: The upcoming release (1.5.6) adds support for DEVONthink 3.