highlight/notes on pdfs

I tried to use the snapshot tool to save a pdf article from pubmed. I successfully saved the pdf but wasn't able to utilize the snapshot tools like highlight and post-it notes. Maybe this is already a feature and I'm just doing something wrong but if not it would be very useful to add this.
  • This should probably be added to the FAQ (please search the forums if you'd like more info, as it has been discussed frequently).

    Zotero cannot markup PDFs or any other file format that is not rendered natively by firefox.

    There are third-party tool tools to edit PDFs, though.
  • Ah, thanks! Sorry for the repetition.
  • I just added Can I use Zotero's highlighting and annotation tools on PDFs? to the FAQ. Do you guys think that adequately and articulately serves this need?

    This is also mentioned halfway down the archive the web page. It might make sense to move that note to the top of that page.
  • I'm using the Mac open source tool Skim on Zotero PDFs. It's free and works well for that purpose. I've even added a little graphics tablet to my mac so I can easily highlight and draw circles and arrows. It's the Wacom bamboo -- be sure to program the buttons on the graphic pen to "highlight" and "freehand" in the preference pane.

    Skim stores the annotations off to the side somehow (in the same file), so you can always go back and edit them later, or you can export the file without markup in case you need a clean copy. To share the annotations, you export a marked PDF which locks them in and is cross platform.

    You just have to configure Firefox to open pdfs with it.

    Note: the "PDF download" extension does not play well with Skim for some reason. When you open a PDF from the web with PDF Download installed, a new Skim process is started, so you can end up with several Skim processes running in the Dock. Without that extension, Skim works fine.

  • A little bit of topic, Skim looks amazing. Do you guys know a windows (sorry Mac to expensive) alternative.

  • Foxit seems nice - I just have the linux version, which can't annotate, but is very fast. Foxit for windows does have annotations.
  • I would second the Foxit recommendation for Windows. I'm not fond of the Firefox plugin that Foxit has but you can open the PDF file in the full Foxit program and it highlights and allows sticky notes. In Zotero I click on the PDF file (but don't bring it up in the browser), click the "Show File" button in Zotero, and then open the file from the Microsoft Explorer (file manager) window that pops up. I am extremely glad that the Zotero writers did not hide File attachments in an unusable binary database or other file format.
  • Foxit is just great, much much faster than Adobe. When I double-click on a PDF attachment in Zotero, it is opened directly opened in neat Foxit, independent of Firefox or the Adobe plugin. Plus, it's a separate window which I like more because of flexibility.
    I think I did this (with Foxit as the default application for PDFs in Windows):

    Enable the extensions.zotero.launchNonNativeFiles hidden pref in about:config.
    ( see http://www.zotero.org/support/hidden_prefs )
  • An alternative to Foxit for Windows users is PDF-XChange viewer. It has nice commenting/markup tools and seems to be in more active development than Foxit (at least when I last compared the two). There's a portable version available from the download page, which is handy.
  • @Zorro. Thanks for the advice. That works very well.
    @CB. I like PDF-XChange viewer better in its interface and especially its Firefox plugin but it doesn't allow as many annotation options as Foxit in the free version. Maybe it will soon.
  • @liblamb I know this is a year late comment but just for the record: PDF-XChange viewer, even in the free version lets you annotate in whatever way you can think of, and has always been so. As such you can highlight, box, underline... with it in the free version without any demo mark-up.
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