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Deep Linking to PDFs With Hook and PDFpenPro

This is a guest post by Luc P. Beaudoin, an adjunct professor of Cognitive Science and Education at Simon Fraser University and the developer of Hook and mySleepButton.

If you are an academic, lawyer, or anyone else who works extensively with PDFs, then you often need to refer to specific text within a PDF. Until today, it was not feasible to create and share hyperlinks to specific locations in a PDF—also known as “deep” linking. To refer to a location in an external PDF document, you had to cite the page number and location of the document or copy and paste the text from the PDF.

Now, using PDFpenPro 12 and the app Hook, you can finally create deep links to PDFs. These links are robust, which means that they continue to work even if you move the target PDF document to a different folder.  

When you click the link, PDFpenPro opens the file and jumps to the specific section of the PDF. And if you share the PDF with someone who also has PDFPenPro and Hook, including the free Hook Lite app, they will also be able to jump to that location. 

How to create a deep link using Hook and PDFpenPro 12

To share deep links to PDFs, you need PDFPenPro 12.2 and Hook productivity 2.2 from CogSci Apps. With both applications installed:

1. Select the text or image you want to link to.

2. Bring up Hook using a keyboard shortcut (⇧⌘SPACE by default) or the Hook menu bar icon.

3. Click Hook’s Copy Link button (or use ⌘C).  

4. Paste the link wherever you want to directly link to the selection. 

You can paste the link just about anywhere:

  • A document  
  • A “to-do” app
  • Another PDF
  • An email   
  • Any editable field

Add deep links to PDFs in all your apps

You can refer to sections of PDFs in all your favorite apps, including Pages, Nisus Writer, Ulysses, and Microsoft Word. 

You can also deep link to PDFs in:

Hook’s Copy Markdown Link function also makes it easy to create deep links in Markdown format. You can then paste them into any plain text editor or Markdown software, including Drafts, Obsidian, BBEdit, and nvUltra.

Create a deep link to an entire PDF 

What if you want to link to an entire PDF?

You can. Hook allows you to create bidirectional hyperlinks between an entire PDF and any other file or linkable object. These bidirectional links are called “hooks.” 

To create a hook, simply invoke Hook from PDFpenPro while nothing is selected in the PDF and use Hook’s Copy Link or Copy Markdown Link commands. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the PDF and other linkable items to Hook’s menu bar icon.

The next time you invoke Hook in the PDF, you will see everything that is “hooked” to it.

Collaborative benefits of deep links 

Before Hook, there was no easy way to refer to shared PDFs in Dropbox or iCloud. Hook solves this problem. Use the Copy Link command on a PDF or a selection of the PDF, then paste the link onto a document or email. Send it to anyone with access to the PDF: If they have Hook (even the free Lite mode), the deep links will open at the exact location in the PDF. 

This is similar to how links to specific locations in web pages work. But PDFPenPro’s deep links are even better than HTML links because they can direct to any location in the PDF, not just HTML fragments.

Deep links in contextual computing

Podcaster, blogger, author, and attorney David Sparks has been developing the idea of contextual computing. The idea is that we are more cognitively productive when we can navigate directly to the resources we need without being distracted by information that might take us out of our focused, working context—also known as “the zone.” David argues that using hyperlinks instead of searching (or rummaging) for information helps keep us focused. 

By allowing you not just to access PDF documents directly, but to jump to specific sections within them, Hook with PDFpenPro improves your ability to monotask and to focus.