I made several highlights on Kindle Touch to PDF files. Kindle saves the highlighted text in a separate file, not on the PDFs themselves. I have all the text of the passages I want highlighted, what I need is: a program that can find long phrases and then highlight these phrases. This way, I can build a macro for this program to loop and do this for all my text passages.

I tried Adobe Acrobat XI, but Acrobat has a limit on how many words I can search (~28 characters). I know I could split the highlights, but it's important for me to not do this. So, my questions are:

  1. Is there a software that can do this? (Search for a long string and, once found, highlight it and save the modified PDF?)

  2. Acrobat has a JavaScript console, could someone who is savvy suggest me a script to do this? (I can code some very basic Python, but no Java/JavaScript)

I'm on Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Thank you!

  • A workaround would be using the Redaction tool, maybe with using custom regular Expressions (you can customize in Acrobat, but it is a little bit of a hack), and then replace the Redaction annotations with regular Highlight annotations. Alternatively, you could use Redax by Appligent, which allows to add Regular Expressions via user interface. – Max Wyss Mar 1 '15 at 22:49
  • Thank you for your suggestion! Your solution has the advantage of allowing a 256 chars search, but no more:/ at least that's what I found when searching for redactions. Though it's already an improvement, I wanted something that would enable a full paragraph search (>400 chars), or, ideally, no limits on characters – flen Mar 2 '15 at 0:56

Adobe Acrobat PRO X has the option of adding an action called for highlighting. It uses the highlight and redact option but, instead of redacting the text that was found, it replaces it for highlighting. I tried this with the Kindle clippings.txt file and it works like a charm. I hate ADOBE though, so I am trying to find a similar solution for a different PDF reader.

Two guys produced AppleScript for the MAC OS X Skim PDF reader (which I love) but I couldn't made them work. I will explore that possible solution in a different question. The Action file for ADOBE has a .sequ extension. I can't find it right now in Google but I know it's there. Sadly, I renamed the file so I can't point precisely to its source.

For the GitHub projects for Skim, see



  • Thanks, but I'm a windows user... I learned in the meanwhile Javascript and Acrobat's JS API and wrote myself a script for Acrobat Pro XI that can do this. It needs some polishing and I'm very busy right now, but in the next months I intend to put it here. If you're interested, PM me and I'll pass you the provisory version (this can only search for unlimited text in a given page (i.e., if the text stretches through 2 or more pages, it won't find it), but will search all pages. I need to improve it to remove this limitation) – flen Dec 21 '15 at 3:00

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