Hello Keypoints!

This is a short introduction to Keypoints, an upcoming note-taking and PDF highlighting app for the Mac.

What makes Keypoints special?

When you annotate a PDF in a regular PDF annotation app, your PDF annotations & highlights are usually stuck within the PDF. Often, you can’t easily search across all the PDFs you’ve annotated, and your annotations need to be exported to a note-taking app in order to further work with them (like adding tags, comments, or cross-links).

Things get even more cumbersome if you also want to add source & page information for the PDF to the annotation’s note, and if you want to include a link back to the PDF. This usually involves quite a lot of back-and-forth switching between your note-taking and reference manager apps – just to create a single note.

Keypoints makes this workflow significantly easier. In Keypoints, your notes are displayed next to the PDF:

When you highlight some text in a PDF and create a new note from it, Keypoints will automatically extract the highlighted text (with hyphenated words being merged), and it can also append the correct PDF page & source information: Keypoints will automatically query your preferred reference manager to provide the PDF’s source information, and will append the citekey and formatted reference of the corresponding publication to the note.

Keypoints also allows you to search across all of your notes, independent from the PDF source they came from. When you select a note, its source PDF will be displayed in the PDF previewer, and its exact location in the PDF will be highlighted. You can also go the other way, i.e., click any highlighted text in the PDF which will select its associated note in the app.

Anatomy of a note

A note usually consists of a title and the quoted text, and optionally your own comments. In addition, each note can contain metadata (i.e., lines starting with a `<` character) where you can add your own keywords and a star rating for the note, and mark the note with a color label:

As indicated above, the note metadata may also include the page information and publication metadata for the source text. Below is a sample note which includes the citekey and formatted reference of the source publication containing the quoted text.

The publication’s digital object identifier (DOI) is automatically made into a link pointing back to the article’s webpage, or (if you prefer), to its location within your local reference manager’s library.

In the comments of the note, you can also reference any citekeys, labels, and keywords, or include links to other notes (as shown in the screenshot below). And similar to the note metadata, all of these elements are automatically hot-linked and clicking any of them will display its associated notes.

All together, Keypoints allows you to create a network of semantically rich and linked notes, and to build your very own knowledge database. Your connected notes will form a great foundation for your next writing project!