Export Skim notes according to their highlight colors

Adam Cronkright mentioned, in a thread in the Skim forum, that he uses different colors for highlighting various sections of a PDF, which have a common characteristic (e.g. author’s points he agrees with, points he disagrees with, good phrases…). His problem is that he would like to have an efficient way to organize these different categories of notes and Skim’s present features does not help him much to this end.I think that a way to solve this problem is to use a specialized app for note management and an AppleScript, which exports Skim notes according to their color. So I found a reason to write an additional AppleScript or actually two!The first is a simplified version, which has only one prerequisite for execution. Particularly, you need to use one or more of the following colors: ice, honey drew, flora, lemon, cantaloupe, silver, which are shown below.

You can change a color in the Favorite Colors by dragging a new color from the Color Panel (Tools> Show Colors) and drop it on the Favorite Colors toolbar item. Hold down the Option key to add a new color. You can remove a color from the Favorite Colors by dragging it to the Trash (from Tips and Tricks page in Skim’s wiki).

Each color in Skim is represented as a list of four numbers (red, green, blue, alpha). The fourth number is constant (65535). For example, the ice color is represented by the list  {26214, 65535, 65535, 65535}. So you can change the hardwired colors in the scripts if you know the corresponding RGB (red, green, blue) code in 16-bit format for your preferred colors. Then you can add it in in the chooseColor subroutine (see the AppleScript below).

When you execute the script the following windows will open consecutively:

You can choose more than one colors by pressing cmd + click.

If you choose “Some” then you will be asked to give the range of pages from which the notes will be extracted.


The result is sent to the clipboard.

The second AppleScript is that which I use and is quite more complicated. As you may know, my preferred program for managing notes is MediaWiki so the AppleScript’s result is customized for import in a MediaWiki page.

Some additional features of this AppleScript are the following:

  • a hyperlink to the exact PDF page is created for each exported note
  • the annotation’s date and time are added at the end of each exported note
  • the notes from each page are separated by a line
  • the extended text of the note is exported as well
  • the first five notes of the first page are not exported
  • the written page numbers should be given in the dialog windows

If you want to use this AppleScript you need firstly to create the five Skim notes in the first PDF page as I describe in my post “How to create correctly the Skim notes which have the DEVONthink links, when you have already annotated the first page of the PDF document.

The code is the following:

I hope this AppleScript will help Adam! Anyway, your post was an inspiration for me. Finally, I would like to thank Martin who informed me about it.

4 Responses to “Export Skim notes according to their highlight colors”

  1. gj says:

    Hey there,

    Found your site today and your scripts seem to be very very useful for me :-) I’ve modded the simple on you provided here so that it won’t ask anything anymore. I’ve set the default highlighting color in Skim to “honeydew” and now the script just copies all my notes to the clipboard.

    THought it might help someone else get some insight, as I’, just hacking and trying myself here. So I posted the code, if you don;t mind

    – untitled.applescript

    – Created by gerben jan on 2011-12-01.
    – Copyright (c) 2011 __MyCompanyName__. All rights reserved.

    tell application “Skim”
    set the clipboard to “”
    set numberOfPages to count pages of document 1
    –gehackt om de lemon vraag niet meer te krijgen
    set myColorCodes to my chooseColor()

    set firstPage to “1″ as number
    set lastPage to numberOfPages
    set the clipboard to “Skim notes” & return

    repeat with currentPage from firstPage to lastPage
    set pageNotes to notes of page currentPage of document 1
    exportPageNotes(pageNotes, currentPage, myColorCodes) of me
    end repeat

    end tell

    on exportPageNotes(listOfNotes, pageForProcessing, myColorCodes)
    tell application “Skim”

    set currentPDFpage to pageForProcessing
    repeat with coloredNote in listOfNotes

    repeat with i from 1 to the count of myColorCodes
    if color of coloredNote is item i of myColorCodes then
    set noteText to get text for coloredNote

    set the clipboard to (the clipboard) & noteText & return & return
    end if
    end repeat
    end repeat

    end tell
    end exportPageNotes

    on chooseColor()

    set colorCodes to {}
    set noteColor to “”
    set end of colorCodes to {52428, 65535, 26214, 65535}
    return colorCodes
    end chooseColor

    –Color codes:
    –”ice” {26214, 65535, 65535, 65535}
    –”honey drew” {52428, 65535, 26214, 65535}
    –”flora” {26214, 65535, 26214, 65535}
    – “lemon” {65535, 65535, 2, 65535}
    – “cantaloupe” {65535, 52428, 26214, 65535}
    –”silver” {52428, 52428, 52428, 65535}

  2. ovitch says:


    The script sounds great but I don’t understand the color definition. I can find the native RGBA from the color but not in the format you specified colors.

    Could you give me a hint on how you defined these colors, even in Skim?

    Thanks in advance

Leave a Reply