How to set a Windows Store UWP app (Drawboard) as custom PDF viewer in Zotero?

Hello everyone,

I want to open PDFs from within Zotero with Drawboard PDF viewer and all PDFs from Windows Explorer with my default PDF viewer, which is PDF XChange Viewer.

I didn't manage to setup Drawboard PDF as my custom PDF viewer for PDFs opened from within the Zotero standalone software (5.0.52, latest version as of today) under Windows 10 Pro. Drawboad PDF is not my default application for PDFs in Windows and I do not want it to be (as it lacks support for forms and keeps PDFs open when you close it). I am aware of the dialog in Zotero's preference pane under 'General', but that only lets me specify an .exe file. However, since Drawboard is a Windows UWP App, I can not navigate to its executable.

Currently I am stuck with either having Drawboard set as my Windows-wide default program for PDFs, which works fine with Zotero, but forces me to right-click -> "Open with PDF XChange Viewer" for every PDF that I open in Windows Explorer or having PDF XChange Viewer set as my Windows-wide default program which forces me to right-click in Zotero -> Show File -> right-click in Explorer -> "Open with Drawboard".

Any ideas how I can set up Drawboard as my custom viewer in Zotero?

I am aware that these issues arise from the way Windows UWP apps are sandboxed and I do not blame Zotero.
Also, thanks for providing this great software and keep on the good work! I recently switched from Mendeley and now enjoy a great workflow with Zotero / Drawboard and handwritten annotations made within Drawboard.
  • I don't actually know anything about UWP apps and can't test it at the moment. It seems like allowing .appx and .appxbundle might be sufficient?
  • Actually, it's not clear to me if they remain as .appx(bundle) after installation or if that's just the installation format.
  • So, basically, you can play around with this by opening the Config Editor in the Advanced pane of the Zotero preferences and modifying the fileHandler.pdf pref. If you can figure out what path you need to set to make this work, we may be able to adjust the file picker as needed.
  • Thank you for your input. I can now start Drawboard from the command line using this command: explorer.exe shell:appsFolder\Drawboard.DrawboardPDF_gqbn7fs4pywxm!App . However, there has no effect when I set it on the fileHandler.pdf pref. Zotero keeps opening the PDFs with the default PDF viewer, although showing that line as custom PDF viewer under general preferences.
  • I found another way to open Drawboard, but it seems like it is impossible to pass a file with it:
  • Did you try with the full path to explorer.exe? I don’t think it would work without that.
  • I tried it, but it still opens the PDF with the default viewer.

    C:\Windows\SysWOW64\explorer.exe shell:appsFolder\Drawboard.DrawboardPDF_gqbn7fs4pywxm!App
  • edited June 23, 2018
    Okay, I tested a variety of configurations of the Drawboard URI drawboardpdf:, using the shell to open Drawboard, and getting the filepath to the Drawboard .exe file from inside the WindowsApps folder: "C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\Drawboard.DrawboardPDF_5.4.0.0_x64__gqbn7fs4pywxm\Drawboard.Win10.exe"

    The drawboardpdf: URI can't accept arguments, so that won't work, and the .exe file can't be opened directly, but only by the Windows system. I also tried creating shortcuts on the Desktop to each of the three above and selecting these with Zotero, but that didn't work either.

    So, it appears that there is no way for other applications to open files using Windows Store/UWP apps unless (1) the UWP app is the system default or (2) the application invokes the Windows native Open With dialog. I'm not sure whether XUL has any facility to do the latter.
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