Searching for a replacement for Preview, for annotating pdfs

Discussion in 'macOS' started by icymountain, Dec 30, 2016.

  1. icymountain macrumors regular

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    Dec 12, 2006
    #1
    I spend a large part of my time annotating pdfs, for me and my graduate students. In theory, being able to highlight text blocks and add boxes with comments is a wonderful way to communicate comments on a document. In practice, Preview has been frustrating men for quite some time (it was good at some point, three or four years ago, and then did just dive, dive, dive) with its bugs and quirks and I cannot take it anymore:
    - Boxes disappearing;
    - Box color changes ignored, or incorrectly done (right now I have boxes that will not change to another color, but the where the message appears in the right color...), or applied to the wrong box (you select a box, change the color and see another box change color);
    - Unability to remove certain boxes (they stay as ghost, even if I save, quit, and reload...);
    - The editing modes are never really consistent, and box insertion often puts the box in the middle of the screen, so you have to move it afterwards;
    - ...

    Is there a good replacement for Preview for this ?
    I tried Acrobat DC and Skim, without success.
     
  2. bartvk macrumors 6502

    bartvk

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    #2
  3. icymountain thread starter macrumors regular

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  4. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Michaelgtrusa

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    #5
    Have you read this? http://tidbits.com/article/16966?rss=&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=tidbits
     
  5. jasnw macrumors 6502

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    #6
  6. icymountain thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 12, 2006
    #7
    Yes, I just did...
    After this reading, I am a bit desperate as (1) I am in fact using mostly Preview, which should be less impacted according to the link, (2) I have not even upgraded to 10.12.2 (I boycotted it due to the removal of the battery time left indicator which I consider a pathetic step ---though I use mostly Coconut Battery now) and (3) even under 10.12.1 and with Preview, I am already stuck with too many bugs in the pdf annotation routine.
    For all these reasons, I would like to stick with open source solutions for a while as far as PDF manipulation is concerned. I am not going to spend $50 or more on a program that may be broken as it uses some library that Apple decides to break. The evolution of open source programs tends to be better understood. It will be easy for me as I have a Linux VM on all my Macs, so I will give okular a shot. If I am happy enough, I will see if I can do a native install.

    Many thanks to all!
     
  7. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a

    cdcastillo

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  8. infantrytrophy macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2013
    #9
    You are right to feel desperate, but not right to continue using Preview. If you make an edit or annotation with Preview, there is a substantial risk of corrupting the file. In my case, many (not all) of the PDF files that I have edited with Preview have become corrupted with a complete loss of the OCR layer. I will never be able to search these files

    After checking out several pertinent blogs and google searches, I concluded that Apple seems reluctant to publicly acknowledge the issue - nothing but silence for several months.

    We would be well advised to use PDF expert or PDFPen for PDF edits, since neither of these apps use Apple's PDFkit framework. I agree that it is a rotten deal to have to spend $65 - $75 to work around Apple's buggy software, but that's better than corrupting your database of PDF files.

    Apple has done us a great disservice by "fixing" The PDF handling by macOS. The motto seems to be, " if it ain't broke then keep fixing it until it is".
     
  9. bartvk macrumors 6502

    bartvk

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    #10
    That's what a backup is for, right?
     
  10. infantrytrophy, Jan 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017

    infantrytrophy macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2013
    #11
    Yes, but ...

    There are 3 backups - 1) Time Machine (hourly), 2) Carbon Copy Cloner ( daily), 3) BackBlaze (cloud, daily, I think). Problem is that the partially-corrupted files are a small fraction of the backed-up files, and the corruption has occurred over many weeks, not detected until recently. I don't want to go back to a recovery point weeks or months ago, since all files added since then would be excluded. I suppose I could manually identify and recover or re-create known corrupted files - paid bills, for example, annotated using Preview - but this would be a lot of work for little gain. The affected files are there, just not searchable since the OCR layer is gone (thanks to Preview).

    In the headlong rush to "harmonize" macOS and IOS, Apple has "fixed" something in macOS that was not broken. We are seeing the consequences of that.
     
  11. icymountain thread starter macrumors regular

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    Dec 12, 2006
    #12
    So far, I would say my work on PDFs is not necessarily something I need to keep in the long term, it is mostly suggestions I write on the papers of my graduate students (when it works, it is just an extremely efficient way of communicating and working). There is no real need for me to archive these. In your case, it seems more critical, and then using professional tools may be the best approach indeed. As far as I am concerned, it is just not happening: not only I find the prices significant, but the whole issue seems that we have no guarantee on what will work tomorrow, since Apple is busy breaking PDFkit used in many tools... What if you pay $75, and tomorrow it breaks because they use some library that Apple decided to "fix" ? My reflex in such situations is to trust only more open solution, hence I will be evaluating open source solutions (no time right now, but soon).

    Obviously yes. This is very disappointing given the sheer amount of resource Apple has. Such fiascos should just not happen. Also, we are talking pdf files here, it is not a bleeding edge technology released yesterday...
     
  12. infantrytrophy macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2013
    #13
    Excellent point. I saw a post
    (link: http://tidbits.com/article/16966?rss=&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=tidbits)
    in which a representative from Readdle (PDF Expert developer) stated that PDF Expert does not rely on Apple's PDFkit and that PDF Expert has its own file saving mechanics. Scroll down to the comments after the article for a post by Pavel Sakhatsky on 1/3/17.

    I understand that PDFPen also does not use PDFkit, but I can't remember where I learned that.

    You mentioned that you work with papers of your graduate students, implying that you are affiliated with an educational institution. Note that the developers of both PDF Expert and PDFPen offer educational discounts.

    At this point I would trust either of these two apps over Preview for handling PDF files. If you find an open source solution, please advise.
     
  13. bartvk macrumors 6502

    bartvk

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    #14
    What you could do, is restore all documents to a temporary directory. Then run a diff between the two document directories, for example:

    Code:
    $ diff -r -q  Documents_temp_restore/ Documents/
    You'd get a list and visually I bet you'd be able to weed out really obvious ones. For example a bill paid in October, 2016 should never have been changed. Thus manually copy it over to your current Documents folder.
     
  14. infantrytrophy macrumors regular

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    Oct 27, 2013
    #15
    Very helpful, thank you.

    I assume that "Documents_temp_restore" is the temporary folder that I would create into which the backup is restored?
     
  15. bartvk macrumors 6502

    bartvk

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    #16
    Yup correct!
     
  16. FirDerrig33 macrumors newbie

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    Jan 12, 2017
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    California
    #17
    This one is pretty basic and not incredibly intuitive, but I have relied on FormulatePro and that has served me pretty well for basic annotations and additions.
     

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