PDF to Readwise workflow?

I’ve started using Readwise to extract highlights from Kindle, Pocket, Books, etc.

Does anyone know of a workflow to get highlights from PDFs into Readwise?
As best I can tell, even if a PDF is in Books, its highlights are not imported into Readwise.

The dev omits pdf for export. Perhaps you could transform your pdfs into epubs and Readwise could recognize subsequent highlights in iBooks - ask the dev.

There are other apps that do support this for macOS/iOS.


I am using https://hypothes.is/, though I would prefer to do PDF highlights directly in https://RoamResearch.com.


Thanks. Confirmed this doesn’t work before posting.

Trying out hypothesis, but not sure it’s going to work for me, as highlights don’t seem to save in the PDFs, and not sure how to round-trip back to the file system and Bookends.

I might just need to extract the highlights, convert to Markdown and paste into Roam.

The link to/from Kindle is really nice. Would be nice to have that functionality with pdf highlight - I.e. clicking a link would take you to the highlight in the pdf.


I was referring to epubs there, not pdfs.

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Ditto. I’m just starting the search for a streamlined PDF workflow, and this flow is feeling patchwork… but better than nothing. Fingers crossed Roam is working on PDF highlights.

Highlights from PDF expert show up in Readwise. https://help.readwise.io/article/41-can-i-import-highlights-from-pdfs


I too am searching for a clean PDF and Kindle book workflow.

My backend reference system is Zotero, and my highlights and notes need to go into DEVONThink and Obsidian.

I’ve got a list of a whole bunch of things that don’t work. I’ll try to make some time to post it here to save everyone else a bit of hassle.

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Trying to read your mind a bit - maybe zotfile are the droids you’re looking for.


Hmm, hit some errors and my answer seems to be MIA

Zotfile can handle moving PDF files in and out of Zotero and onto an iPad. However, there are caveats. When you try to round trip more than once you can end up with multiple annotated PDFs each with only some of the annotations you have made.

The movement of those annotations OUT of the PDF reader on the iPad and into something like Obsidian or DEVONThink is entirely dependent on the PDF reader you choose. There are issues of one sort or another with pretty much all of them I’ve tried so far.

In my initial investigations I thought it would be simple so I didn’t’ take good notes one what failed. I’m trying to go back and redo the testing but this time taking good notes so I can make a coherent post here of all the various issues and trade offs.

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I’m very interested in this thread, and in PDF workflows overall.

What tools do you use to make the highlights? I really like Highlights (such a good name), but it’s missing some key features that make me want to stick with PDF Expert for now.

I’m in the same DEVONthink, Obsidian boat as others in this thread and would love to be able to integrate more of this (the Readwise.io integration with Roam is incredible, but not enough to get me to switch to Roam at this point in its lifecycle).

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Interesting. I find missing key features in PDF expert myself and am looking at Hihghlights to fill the gap.

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Would love an update on this thread.

Are people using Readwise? Which PDF reader?
Very tempted by the concept of marking up academic PDFs and saving the highlights for later review. Concerned that Readwise specifically mentions two column PDFs less good (ie almost all journal articles). Disappointed that my citation manager/PDF repository (ReadCube Papers) does not seem to be specifically supported by Readwise, although PDF export with highlights seems to be possible.

If anyone has figured out a killer workflow please share :slight_smile:

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You can use Drafts 30 to extract text from a PDF. I shared the draft with Instapaper to highlight the text.

The text was fine, but I lost the formatting. .

You can email your pdf to Kindle. (Import) Then your highlights from Kindle will make their way into Readwise.

I haven’t been able to get that to work at all consistently. I have pretty much given up on Readwise. I got a 1 year subscription and am using it for Kindle book highlights but not for PDFs.

My current workflow is using Highlights and exporting to markdown and then into Obsidian

You will need to add your email account to kindle so that it can accept PDFs from that account. This is what gets confused. Amazon customer service can walk you through it too. Once set that’s it. You can email any number of PDFs and you can use use Readwise.

I already have my email to accept PDFs I can get them there but the highlights do not get saved. The issue is that I read them on the Kindle app on iOS and that does nothandlet emailed PDFs the same way

Not sure if anyone is still looking, but I have had success with memex when reading things in articles/online format and then sending them to readwise and onto my end location (for me it’s Roam). I’ve also been having success just uploading all my pdf’s to readwise directly after highlighting them in PDF Expert.

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