Jump to content
  • 1

Suggestion: Make Skitch a "PDF Expert"

Kent Maitland


I admit the title to this topic is a little tongue and cheek, since I have been using the PDF Expert iOS app for a good long time. I really appreciate its usefulness for my needs. However, it cannot sync my PDFs to Evernote, and I find it too cumbersome for me to use two separate programs/sync services for one PDF. So, to see Skitch come with the ability to annotate PDFs AND take care of the Evernote syncing for me, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, it has not lived up to the level of PDF Expert as of yet, but it sure seems to have the potential to.


A little background on my situation: I live in the academic environment, and so I find myself having to interact with PDF copies of various scholarly journal articles, theses, dissertations, etc. Such sources require a "power user" type program, as I am constantly making notes to myself and highlighting significant information for research purposes. In a lot of ways, PDFs are my books, and I think maybe that is why PDF Expert has been so captivating; it has been able to take the PDF concept and turn it into book form. If Skitch could tap into that same magic, I'd be willing to pay double for my Evernote Premium account (but don't get any ideas!  :blink: ).


Here are a few areas where I think Skitch could improve on PDF annotation. My apologies if these have already been said elsewhere in the forums:


1. Selecting text. This is REALLY important for me because it makes the highlighting process a snap. Literally, I tap and hold, the text is selected, and I can move my finger directly to the last word of the sentence or paragraph without having to drag across every single line. Not to mention, it makes for much fewer mistakes. It also allows me to copy and paste text should I ever need to. Currently, I am not using the highlighting feature at all because this feature is missing. I am too perfectionist to want to do it in the current form, because the highlighting just looks really crooked. Using lines/underlining is an ok workaround, but even with that I must drag my finger (or stilus) accross the tablet for every line, and that gets really tiring on my hands after a while. I could do without any of the other suggestions below if I just had this one.


2. More intuitive selection of tools. Kind of related to the above, it is quite difficult to get used to the maneuvering that has to be done to work about the app's tools. I can never remember to go back to the top tool (the four arrows?) to move the PDF down after using another in the arsenal. If maybe you could maneuver them into the text selection, this would be a huge improvement. Select the text, and then, as with the copy and paste commands in other programs, there are "highlight," "underline," etc. at the top. Maybe you could leave the more advanced stuff for the sidebar, like the shapes, arrow and text box. These basic ones though are actually more of a hassle in their present form.


3. Better text box. The text box in its present form is abysmal, in my humble opinion. There are situations where I find myself having to write a substantial amount of text on a given PDF, and presently I'm having to type it out as best I can and then drag and resize and hope that all of it will fit on the page. All because the text does not wrap. One workaround I have found is to hit "return"/"enter" once the text gets to the end of the page, but a needless hassle. We ditched the typewriter a long time ago.  ;)


4. Ability to edit note details either in Evernote or Skitch. Setting the author is extremely important for my PDFs. Presently, I'm seeing no way to do that, however. The tags are good, at least. But they're not enough.


5. That "cancel" button has got to go. There have been a few times where I will get quite far into a PDF, do something by mistake, and accidentally hit the cancel button instead of undo, completely eliminating all my work. The button really needs to be eliminated, moved, or at least given some sort of feature to prevent something like that from happening (dare I say an "are you sure" dialogue box?). I think I've seen other programs that have a drop down menu upon hitting the button that will have a red "discard"/"delete" button and maybe a "cancel" (as in cancel the cancel!). I don't know. Something at least to make discarding my work not so easy.


6.  Return to PDF at the place I left off. I was surprised at how much I missed this feature. Some PDFs I read can be 100s of pages, so having to find my place again is a chore. One workaround I've been using is scrolling down to the last page I have annotated, but even that requires a bit of scrolling for the really big PDFs.


Other, "wish list features" (not necessary, but sure would be nice!):

Ability to annotate the source PDF without having to create a new, seperate "skitch" version.

Ability to save the annotated PDF in whatever location I want (though the ability to annotate the source PDF would really take care of this).

Ability to save annotations in the PDF without closing.

PDF editing on other devices, desktop versions especially.

Link to comment

11 replies to this idea

Recommended Posts

Kent - Thanks for the great feedback. We'll take all of this into consideration. I've also commented below on a few of your items.


Selecting text...


We've been debating this one as well, and thanks for the use case.


Better text box...

We are looking into this option right now. There are a lot of use cases where this would be extremely helpful and it is one of our top requested text features.


Ability to edit note details either in Evernote or Skitch..

Your title says "note", but your comment suggests PDF. Are you looking to edit Note details or just PDF details?


Return to PDF at the place I left off

This is a good idea. In the short term you can try the following to get back to previous place:


Link to comment

Thanks Kent - this is very useful feedback. We really appreciate it.


Many of your points are things we're actively working on, and a few I've added some todos to look into.


I have a few questions re: your recent points




Ability to annotate the source PDF without having to create a new, seperate "skitch" version.

Would you want this to save *over* the existing version, or add a version to your Evernote note?


Ability to save the annotated PDF in whatever location I want (though the ability to annotate the source PDF would really take care of this).

What kind of location do you have in mind?


PDF editing on other devices, desktop versions especially.

Can I ask what desktop machine are you using? PDF support is in Skitch for Mac now, and on it's way for Skitch for Windows Desktop.




Again, we really appreciate your feedback!

Link to comment


My apologies, I meant the note details, not the PDF metadata. Things like author, location, tags, etc. In Evernote, there's the ability to tag, but I believe that's it at the present time. Plus, it's ok to edit this info in Evernote, but maybe the ability to do it within Skitch would prove easier.




Source PDF

I think saving over the existing version would work out great. This way, I could port the PDF once into Evernote and forget about it. I admit though that some people may want to keep a "pure" version lying around. For me, however, one annotated copy will do just fine. 


PDF "Location"

I was more referring to specific folders within Evernote that I've already created besides the folder I set as the default for Skitch. Again, this isn't absolutely necessary. I noticed that if I move a Skitch note from the Skitch default to another folder, there is no conflict with any subsequent edits I make. Besides, if Skitch saved "over top" an existing PDF already filed in a specific folder, this wouldn't be an issue at all. 


Other devices

Unfortunately, I'm in Windows, so I'm patiently waiting for the feature. I assumed this was being worked on anyway, but I thought I would add it to the post just to be as thorough as possible.  B)



One other thing: Since my initial post, I have had the unfortunate experience of losing edits unexpectedly. I did some work on a PDF, saved, and even waited for the sync to complete in Skitch. Once completed, I closed the app and went about other work. Upon returning, however, I noticed the PDF with none of the added edits from my previous session. I'm not sure if this is a bug in the software. The PDF was a quite large one; a master's thesis of about 180 pages. I'm wondering if maybe the sheer size is too much to handle at the moment? Regardless, just thought I would give you a heads up on that.


Thanks for your considering my thoughts! Keep up the good work!

Link to comment
  • Level 5*

Personally, i don't think Skitch is likely to replace PDF Expert (iAnnotate or GoodReader) for me anytime soon, nor would I expect it to morph into an uber app. In fact, I see a lot of overlap here with Penultimate, which does not yet have PDF editing, zoom boxes, etc. either.

However, if Skitch does go down this road, wriing over the PDF would be fine. Other apps ask if you want an annotated copy, so this may be the way to go. If purists (me) want pure copies, we'll keep them in another note.

Large files? Yep, here is where other readers are probably going to do better. I have many 1,000 page books, and I don't expect Skitch will handle them well (annotations in PDF Expert are OK, but GoodNotes, for example, can't handle them).

I'd like Skitch to focus on image editing, and have Penultimate work on PDF editing, because when marking up texts, all I need is text / handwriting, and not all of the other great functions Skitch has.

Link to comment

I think the most important aspect in comparison with PDF Expert (and GoodReader and Adobe Reader and Documents by Readdle and ...) should be that annotations are saved in the standard PDF way, so they are usable in all other apps.


So in short: Just let us annotate PDFs within Evernote like it is standard in any other PDF viewer these days.

Link to comment

@Kent - Thanks for the additional feedback. In regards to the lost data, that shouldn't have happened. We can handle very large PDF files, so 180 pages, especially if they were just text and some simple images, shouldn't have been an issue. If you can send me the activity log we can look at it and determine if there was a problem trying to sync which would have caused something to have hiccuped. The way Skitch works is we save the changes and then sync to Evernote, so the changes should have not been lost.


@GrumpyMonkey & gewappnet - Skitch is a tool about visual communication and we find that many people communicate using PDFs as well as images. PDFs these days are used to share written type, but they are also used as a container to share photos, images, and other media. Being able to support this file type is important to us in our vision to be the best tool for visual communication. 


Just like Skitch isn't specifically a drawing tool, we're also not solely a PDF reader. We're Skitch. We decided to use our great annotation styles rather than the Adobe standard, because we believe ours are better for what they do. Our tools stand out, they make it easier to have a conversation. For example Skitch Stamps say something just by the way they look, in addition to the text you write in the label. 


We're not trying to be another PDF reader, we're just trying to be Skitch. Great feedback like all of yours will help us undertand what we should be (Like adding @Kent's highlighter idea) and what we shouldn't be (just like everyone else). 


Please keep the great feedback coming so we can continue to make the best Skitch app we can. 

Link to comment

In regards to the lost data, that shouldn't have happened. We can handle very large PDF files, so 180 pages, especially if they were just text and some simple images, shouldn't have been an issue.

Did you try the file I sent you a link to? This "large" file couldn't be handled and created a loop of copies in Skitch.

Link to comment

@gewappnet - Sorry about not responding to the private message sooner. I just did now. Yes we've tested and had no issues opening up the PDF on using Skitch for iOS version 2.5.2 nor on the Mac. I've sent you a follow up asking for more information. 

Link to comment

Hi there.


I agree with many of the suggestions in this post. PDF support is my main attraction to Skitch.


The Skitch Summary is what inspired my to have another look, and I must admit I haven't used Skitch extensively as it hasn't met my general needs to date. 


You mention that Skitch is primarily a visual tool, but adding a few basic text tools would make it a viable option for me.


- Highlighting of text is essential, using a standard 'text select' method.

- Text strikeout tool is needed.

- Style sets for text / arrows would be nice. I'd like to be able to set them to something more conservative for business use.

- Clouding is a useful visual tool (essentially another rectangle/polygon variant).

- You've mentioned that it is deliberate not to use the Adobe Standard symbols. I hope that this is kept on the radar, as other people I deal with don't use skitch, and PDF is a nice "program agnostic" format, and it would be good to keep it that way.


I like the Skitch summary concept, but have the following comments:


- The page size should match the PDF page size (i.e., A4), or at least have this as an option.

- There should be an option to customise the headers and footers. I understand the need to market the product, but people I send it to don't care that I use skitch or evernote. I don't want the logos on there. Apart from that the concept is brilliant.






(OSX and Android user, premium account)

Link to comment

@Michael S


Thanks for the feedback. Quick comment and two questions about the Summary:


- The page size is a good idea - We'll look into this.

  • Is there a reason that you need the size to match? Are you frequently printing it out?
  • What exactly do you like about the idea of a summary?
Link to comment

Hi there, what has happened to Kent's great idea? I think his suggestions are still very valid and would tremendously boost user experience for all Evernote users that are knowledge workers who depend on digesting large texts in pdf documents.

I would be very happy to see such features not only for iOS, but also for Android - or at least for Windows.

And I would like to add one more feature request: As a user, I would like to comfortably select and copy text from pdfs to the clipboard so that I can make use of it in other apps.

Taking this even one step further, integrating Evernote and a mindmapping app, e.g. SimpleMind, would be great. But let us focus on pdf text handling first ;)


Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...