Zettelkasten Forum

Using PDFs in The Archive

I've been exploring the new "view image" capabilities in The Archive and it is great to have them! Thank you!!

I noticed that included is the ability to view a PDF file. However, as far as I can tell, it is just the first page of the PDF file and there is no option to expand the image size so that one can actually read the text (if it's mostly text). Of course, clicking on the link brings the file up in the Mac Finder, so it's only a step or two to view the pdf file in a purpose-built app such as PDF Expert. But I could do that previously using the file:/// option. I don't see what has been gained by including PDFs in the image viewing option, except to see something like a line drawing if that was saved to a pdf file.

Am I missing something or is this just the current state of affairs?

Obviously, it would be nice to be able to resize the pdf image and also scroll through various pages. Is that something that might be coming, in the future?


  • It's actually a side effect of what happens when you load images from PDF files with the macOS default capabilities -- once we noticed that, we thought it doesn't hurt, so I didn't remove PDF loading as an image.

    There would be a way to page through the PDF in the thumbnail, but it's really awkward to embed PDFs for reading in notes, so we decided to limit this to a static thumbnail as a point of visual orientation. (I don't use PDF thumbnails myself, so I cannot testament to the use of that.)

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • @ctietze Thanks Christian. My hopes for greater capability weren't high; I was just checking :smile:

  • @GeoEng51, I noted the same. However, if you need to see a figure in a PDF, one trick I've used is to do a specific screen-capture (i.e., just the area of the figure) using Cmd + shift + 4. Then I have the figure as a PNG which I can put in my ZK with the appropriate image preview. This way I have my notes on the article in my ZK, a link to the full file if needed -- or at least a citation -- but I can still reference a figure or diagram.

  • @Sociopoetic Yes; that would work - and I guess I've done that a couple of times already, insofar as including images of screen-captured graphs in my ZK. I would guess that including PDF files in the "show image" capability of The Archive is something that came along for the ride in what @ctietze was implementing. I don't really need it to do anything else, as I have access to all other sorts of PDF viewing/highlighting/commenting tools.

    Did you watch @Will 's recently posted video? A part of that was demonstrating how you can export highlighted material in a PDF file (using PDF Expert) to a markdown text file and thus import or turn it into a zettel (with further work, of course). That is a very slick trick. I like highlighting things, but I was doing it less and less in favour of typing "fleeting" notes into iA Writer or 1Writer - basically, because I thought highlighting was just adding an extra step. Now, I think I could actually work more efficiently by highlighting text and inserting the odd comment, both in a PDF file, exporting all that to a text file, and bringing relevant parts into a zettel.

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