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Re-editing PDF using Skitch


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I annotated a PDF using Skitch on my Mac, mostly by adding text. When I clicked "Save to Evernote", it saved a separate document that was annotated (so I had the original in one note and the annotated in another). The new PDF that has been saved appears to be a PDF of the PDF (so I see two title bars: the title bar of the current PDF framing the original PDF title bar. It looks like a PDF within a PDF.)


My question: I want to edit the notation to change some words. It appears I cannot edit it, but only add more notations. Is that correct? I'd like to delete some old annotations and replace them. How would I do that?

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The behavior laffingleigh describes is annoying enough. In addition, Skitch doesn't create a preview thumbnail of the PDF. It's just the generic OS X PDF icon. I guess I'll stick to using the Preview app to mark up my PDFs.

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@laffingleigh and dmoliver - I think you may have converted either an annotated PDF into another PDF or running into an odd bug.


You can annotate a PDF by doing any of the following:



If you just annotate the PDF then the PDF will remain editable.


@dmoliver - I'm not seeing the problem with a thumbnail being created on the desktop. That task is typically handled by OS X.  

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Hmmm....I still have two issues: (1) I have a PDF within a PDF (but I think I know my mistake on this) and (2) I cannot edit my original annotations (which mystifies me and is a big bummer).


PDF within a PDF


I think I know what happened here. I had a note that was JUST a PDF document. No notes, edits, nothing. I must have chosen "Mark up entire note" instead of choosing the PDF file, because after I annotated it, I had two notes in Evernote: the original unmarked note which was just a PDF document, and a second note which was this:




I did not want a PDF within a PDF. I just wanted a Skitched PDF. Am I right about this?


(Side note: I wish Skitch/Evernote was smart enough to know that there was nothing else in that note except the PDF so it wouldn't create a PDF within a PDF, but instead just the PDF.)


Cannot edit annotations


Now this mystifies me. This note (the one I showed you above) is now frozen in time. I cannot seem to edit the annotations. It's now a part of the note.


I think I know why, but I think this is a bug. When I am in Evernote and click the Skitch symbol in the upper right hand corner of the note, Skitch opens. A box opens titles "Editing from Evernote". I can add annotations to this PDF. When I am done, I click "Save to Evernote".  Here's the tricky thing. It now appears in Evernote as a sealed, filed away PDF. When I go into Skitch, I do not see it at all! So I've permanently lost the ability to edit the notes again (which is a dealbreaker!). I need the ability to edit my Skitch annotations.  Skitch is not recognizing that note as something that had annotations. Does that make sense?


The only workaround I can figure out right now is to drag the original PDF directly into Skitch, NOT using the Evernote Skitch shortcut. That way, when I save it, it saves in the Skitch notebook (not where I want it), but which means I'll be able to edit it later.


Also, another loss feature I'm discovering: when i edit a PDF in Skitch, I see you get a Skitch summary at the beginning of the PDF. It's clickable so that when I click the edit, it takes me to that annotation in the PDF. Well, the PDF I made directly through Evernote does not have any Skitch summaries.


Bottom line: I think this is a bug that needs to be worked out. That said, I do not have a workaround for my PDF that has been "sealed". is there any way to edit my annotations in the document above?

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@laffingleigh - I don't think you're running into a bug, but you might be running into some unexpected behaviors based on what you're trying to do. 


Skitch generates two different kinds of PDFs depending upon what you do:

  • Rich PDF - This kind lets you continue to edit the PDF. This is the default method.
  • Flattened PDF - This kind has annotations "burned in" so they are displayed on anyone's computers.


With all of the back and forth you've gotten into a state where you started with a Rich PDF and then it was converted to a Flattened and so you can't edit it. What happened in your case is the following:

  • You first opened up the PDF for annotation and saved it back. The PDF at this point was Rich and you could continue to annotate the annotations.
  • You must have clicked on Annotate this Note which contained the above Rich PDF and in essence what that does is print the entire note (including the PDF contents) as a new Rich PDF. This conversion process flattens the old PDF and adds it to the body of the new Rich PDF. Thus your original annotations have become "burned in".
  • You re-opened this new rich PDF (the entire Note) for markup and any new annotation you added can be edited, but the "burned in" annotations are stuck.


If you just want to continue marking up an existing PDF, make sure you either select the PDF itself for markup from the title bar icon.


Select the Markup Entire Note when you want to annotate the entire contents of a note. The reason Evernote doesn't look to the contents and then determine if there is a PDF or not, is that every note contains a little more than just a PDF. There are spaces, and other data which means your notes contents are more than just a PDF. 

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Hi Joe,

I follow your instructions, and the part 'This will save any changes back to the original Note' don't work for me when I select markup ONLY de PDF.

I get a new note with the annotated PDF.

(using OSX 10.8 and last versions of EN & Skitch)

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Hey Joe,


Thanks for the kind explanation. What you're saying (and the new vocabulary you're using) makes sense.


I am going to need more specific instructions than what has been provided because I cannot recreate what you said. Out of my two original problems, I understand my first mistake fully: I took a note with a PDF and selected "Mark up entire note". I will NOT do that again, so that problem is solved.


Regarding my second issue, trying to edit the annotations in a "Rich PDF", I'm still struggling. Here is what I'm doing:

  1. I have a PDF in a note (nothing else in this note--just the PDF).
  2. I choose the Skitch icon in the upper right corner and select the actual PDF to mark up.
  3. I mark up the PDF in Skitch.
  4. In Skitch, I click, "Save to Evernote".
  5. I see the new Evernote note that includes a new PDF retitled "annotated.pdf". It includes my mark-up. At the top of the note, it also includes a Skitch Summary section.

Now, I'm at step 5. Allegedly, this is a rich PDF. How do I edit the annotations at this point? I have not figured that out.

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I tried your exact steps (just so we're on the same page) and here's my results:

  • I created a new note with a PDF.
  • I annotated that PDF by selecting it from the drop down button from the Markup icon at the top of the Note.
  • I saved the changes back to Evernote.
  • This result in a new Note being created containing a PDF called annotated.pdf. This Note displays the Skitch Summary and the annotated PDF (which I can preview on a Mac).
    • This is by design. At this time we're trying not to markup the original, but we are working on a solution where we can do this much easier than we do it today.
  • I then went to this new Note, and selected the Markup icon again and chose the PDF (not the Note) and this opened up the PDF in Skitch again and I could edit the existing annotations, and I could add new ones.
  • However, there appears to be a different bug occurring where upon saving I am not saving over this new PDF, but instead generating another new PDF, so I end up with two notes with the same annotated PDF. One with the original annotations and another with the new/changed annotations, plus there is the original (without any annotations).


So you should also be able to continue to change/edit the annotations by using the Markup icon, but you will end up with multiple copies. We'll need to fix that duplication problem.


Let me know if you are able to follow the steps above and see if that works for you while, we fix this bug. 

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Hey Joe,


I am not able to recreate what you did. Everything you did is exactly what I did. When I went into this new note (the one with the Skitch summary) and selected the Markup icon again and chose the PDF (not the note) and saw the opened PDF in Skitch again, it is a flattened PDF! I am not getting a rich PDF. So I can add new annotations, but not old ones.


I decided to try these steps with a new PDF to see if it was the PDF file and I got the same result--I always end up with a flattened PDF once the note is saved from Skitch back to Evernote.



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@laffingleigh - Never mind you are correct. We were able to recreate the problem ourselves. I was using a beta version of Skitch and it is not exhibiting this problem. We're not sure why since both should be handling the file the same way.


So to be clear there are two bugs:

Bug 1 - Repeated duplication of PDFs on save. This should only happen the first time, and not get repeated.

Bug 2 - Some annotations are getting burned in and resulting in a flattened PDF that can't be edited. This should not happen, you should be able to move around the annotations.


The short term workaround which will resolve this to drag and drop the PDF directly onto the Skitch icon and have Skitch open the file directly. This will let you save it as a Skitch note and not result in any burn in.


We're working to figure out what is causing these bugs.

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I came across this same frustrating issue today. Creating a new note for the annotated version seems cumbersome. Will there be an option to overwrite the original PDF with the annotated PDF in the original note in Evernote? You said, "Repeated duplication of PDFs on save. This should only happen the first time, and not get repeated." This still seems to indicated that once you choose to edit a PDF in Skitch for the first time, it will still create a duplicate note (or new) note within Evernote. I think it would be a much better experience if you had the option to overwrite the original PDF with the annotated version in the original note. 


Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding your phrasing. 



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Quick update - We've tracked down the cause of the bugs and have fixes in place for them. An upcoming Evernote release will fix these issues. 


@Kevin - For now we will create 1 new PDF note in order to not be destructive to the original PDF. We will keep monitoring how this is used and if need be change the functionality. We're just concerned about people accidentally over-writing a PDF and are erring on the side of caution. 

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Thanks for following up. I totally understand the reason to preserve the original PDF. However, If the concern it to not be destructive of the original PDF, may I suggest that the annotated version of the PDF be at least placed within the same note in Evernote? I think the part that is cumbersome to the user is having multiple notes related to the same document. This way, you could have your original PDF and annotated PDF in the same note.


Just more of my 2 cents. Thanks! 

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  • 1 month later...

Hey Joe,


I had just assumed that Evernote has been updated since this thread, but maybe it hasn't. I'm asking because I just had the same thing happen again. I did not open the PDF through Skitch, instead opening it through Evernote by pressing the Skitch button in the bar above the note, made some Skitch annotations, then clicked "Save to Evernote", which frustratingly burned the Skitch annotations into the PDF, creating a flattened PDF. I guess I'm just wondering how I will know this has been fixed.




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@laffingleigh - There is a new version in beta testing right now that eliminates this problem. Likewise there should have been a patch out earlier this month for the flattening issue. If you haven't updated please check again and see if you are up to date.

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Did not try out the beta at this point of time,  and I would like to bring your attention to one of my observation.


When I edit the pdf, originally save in evernote, in skitch, I do not get the skitch summary added to the first page of pdf file.


However, you get the skitch summary in your pdf file when you open the pdf from skitch from the beginning. In addition, it seems to be the only solution of avoiding duplicate if you make changes frequently to the same pdf file.


The inconsistency frustrates sometimes,  I hope this issue is identified and being improved in the future development.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Just adding that I would love being able to edit a pdf in Skitch and overwrite the original. RIght now I am running out of usage because I have to paste the new pdf every time I've edited it with Skitch (I'm working with some large pdf files for school...)

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@chunkit721 - We're working on changing that design. By default we added some logic that would determine when to add the summary and when to skip it. Ex: If the PDF is a single page, we try and skip it. That said we'd like to give you choice and want to set to be on/off automatically based on some algorithms, but let you over-ride.


@de Haan - With the latest version of Evernote, you can annotate a PDF inside of Evernote and it will replace the PDF automatically. You don't need to open it in Skitch and then annotate. Though you are free to do that as well. Regardless of though if you Markup in Evernote or Skitch when you make changes and those have to be synced back, you will use up some of our quota, as this counts as a change to the file and needs to be resynced. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi all,


As many here, I am interested on editing .PDF files from the Evernote note, in such a way that annotations are saved on the spot, without creating a new (annoying) note. I have been trying the different options here, and the best I have been able to do is to click on the note, open with... Skitch, and from there instead of saving just use the 'drag me' tab to put the annotated file back into Evernote. This will create a copy of the file inside the first note, but it is the only way to keep the Skitch summary without creating new note!


I understand this is done this way so you will not be inserting a summary in an original file, defacing it. However, many of us are interested into introducing that summary on the original file! Summary is just great for scientific paper analysis and sharing!


Hope this helps,




PS. First post in Evernote forums!

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  • 5 months later...


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