Highlights: A markdown pdf annotator14 Sep 2016 | misc
It’s getting close to the end of the day and I don’t feel like doing work-work, so I’ve decided to do some pseudo-work and write this little blog post recommending a phenomenal pdf annotator I recently discovered: Highlights.
Highlights saves annotatations as editable markdown and let’s you effortlessly export the markdown to evernote, which then makes your notes searchable on google (only to you).
I wanted a system where I could easily access the annotations I made on pdfs. I wanted them to be accessible across pdf readers so the annotations needed to be saved to the file and I wanted them to be easily found when I searched for related topics. Highlights combined with Evernote managed to accomplish both rather easily and elegantly
- The annotations are saved in markdown. The impact is two-fold. (1) They are easy to edit, (2) It is easy to export to many clients including Evernote.
Evernote has a cool feature that when you search things on google, you can concurrently perform a search on evernote (you’ll need the Evernote Web Clipper installed). Below you can see an example where I searched for hidden variables and 2 notes with related text came up (one of which was my markdown notes from this example)
- The annotation tools are powerful
- Aside from text, you can also “highlight” diagrams, adding them to your markdown
- You can set a specific underline color for references and your markdown will correclty link references
Regular View Markdown View
Everything is saved in-file so you can view your pdf (and all annotations) in other readers. This was important to me. I use Papers to manage my papers, and being able to browse my annotations on that platform (or any other) is really useful.
It’s easy to change the color/type of any annotation
- It is supposed to support DOI lookup so that references are clickable and openable, but I have found this feature to not work.
- If you use bookends or paper3 (I used papers), it supports opening the reference in your manager (but, again, this require DOI lookup to work)
- It costs $30 but its made by a PhD student so I’m happy to support (for those that don’t want to, it isn’t too hard to find a copy online…)
Here are some examples of markup and pdf it generated from my annotations