MarginNote Status update?


BTW, it looks like MN stores mind map elements in a Microsoft Access format database (.mdb files in ~/Library/Containers/QReader.MarginStudyMac/Data/Library/Application Support/QReader.MarginNoteMac).

Is that really how it works on macOS?

EDIT: Please ignore. Looking inside, I see that it’s a binary plist.

Hello support (@Sushi_Support-Team) ,

I think MarginNote is an excellent tool for use in my academic work. Please forward my thanks to the developers for their continued commitment to making MarginNote a wonderful app to work with. It must be a huge job to do considering the number of suggestions for improvement from us all! :sweat_smile:

I read many blogs and forums before deciding to purchase MarginNote. One thing that all the blogs and forums said about MarginNote was its " … lack of ability to play well with other apps". They were referring to MarginNote export which does not allow the work done in MarginNote to be shared with other apps. This is the same issue that was pointed out by @jprint here in item number 3.

Therefore, if a critical feature for improvement could be suggested it would be this one - to have MarginNote export more friendly with other apps.

What do you think?

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I agree with everything that @Darren noted, above. Better support for exporting to other apps is badly needed. To reiterate what @jprint already noted a year ago: MarginNote needs PDF export with proper annotations, RTF for notes, OmniOutliner, etc.

The current “solution” seems to be that we are to supposed to figure out the undocumented plugin API and write the export code ourselves. I have asked you about documentation for the plugin API, and am still waiting for a response.

Can you give a clear delivery date for completed (i.e., not beta) API documentation? Have you contracted with a technical writer who is a native English speaker to review and edit the API documentation? I hope you will understand that a native check by an experienced technical writer is pretty much a requirement for usable API documentation, and that your team will take a serious, professional attitude towards this.

To be honest, though, I don’t see what your team now proposes is a workable solution for most users. I do not think it is reasonable to ask that we users write our own code for export, and especially not when your team won’t even give us a clear statement about the API documentation. Moreover, is it possible to export PDF files with proper annotations using the plugin API? This is not clear to me. Can you clarify this?

I hope you will give these issues some serious thought and that your team might make a real commitment to give export features higher priority.

One solution would be that your team writes several plugins to get things started, and then we users can modify the code to write our own custom export plugins. That might work, but you will need to make it a priority. You could start by delivering a plugin to export PDF with correct annotations. How about it? If PDF files with proper annotations cannot be generated from the plugin API, you may need to add this to the core MarginNote app.

Right now, I think I can speak for some of the others who have posted about export functionality, that we don’t have a solution in view. Your team has made some vague noises about this, the plugin API was promised, but still nothing is really concrete.

Unfortunately, this situation is somehow very familiar.

There used to be a pretty good app called Sente that was in many ways similar to MarginNote. Have you heard of it?

Just like MarginNote, Sente had nice features for marking up PDFs, through it primarily served as a reference manager. Just like MarginNote, it did not follow the PDF spec for annotations, but instead held all the annotations in a SQL database, and just like MarginNote, it didn’t have working support for exporting PDFs or PDF annotations. Furthermore, just like MarginNote, the users asked many times for improved export, and as with MarginNote the developers of Sente never gave these requests any priority. There was a pattern of poor communication, and then the Sente developers then started lying to the customers about the status of the app. The support staff stopped responding to posts on the forum. A year or so later, the company disappeared, and the users were abandoned, trying to figure out how to migrate their PDF notes to other applications.

This week, @chai46 posted on this forum that s/he felt “cheated of my money and forcefully trapped with a product that doesn’t show any interest to integrate with the greater world of other applications and pdf readers”.

Given the lack of communication and commitment from your team to come up with a workable solution to the problems with export, I can perfectly understand @chai46’s message.

I would hate to see MarginNote go the way of Sente.

In any case, it’s up to you and your team to clearly communicate your plans, and make some commitments about the future.


Ditto all of that (what @mobo said) , and then some.


Thanks for the suggestions and criticisms.

Just to let you know that we are very aware of the PDF export problem, and I have talked with the developers several times. The current mechanism is that MarginNote uses the graphics card to render the PDF export, and we know that this is an issue. We are still on the hunt for PDF engines that would allow better rendering of PDFs and support for the integration with the common PDF standard. Sorry that we do not support this for now, but I am almost definite that we will support the common standard in the future (most likely the next major version of MarginNote).

As to the API document, I admit that a lot needs to be done there. It has kind of been paused last year after the Chinese draft was finished, so... I will raise this issue up again in the team.

For now, rest assured that we are steadily improving and trying to address the many issues of the app, I am confident that we will keep maintaining this app, and we would love to keep in touch with the community.

Kind Regards,
Support Team

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Thanks for the update. Please let us know what feedback you get from your team about moving forward on the API documentation, specifically w.r.t. my questions, above.

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I have just checked with the team, and we are working on hiring technical positions to help push forward the writing of the API document.


Several months have passed since your last post. Could you give us an update on the following:

  1. Support for exporting PDFs with proper annotations (i.e., not flattened), or RTF for notes, etc., as requested by @xurc, @chai46, @JKF, @Spoon, @DrJJWMac, et al.

  2. Support for folders and categories, as requested by @jprint, et al.

  3. Correct handling of PDF page numbers, as discussed by @mobo.

  4. Support for citations, as discussed by @betty77, @Spoon, @MAB941009.

  5. Support for Advanced Search, as requested by @yuwenmchen, @JournoProf, @mobo.

  6. Support for “Paste and Match Style” in the macOS version, as requested by @mobo.

  7. Completed API documentation for the MN Plugin.



Thank you, @mobo ! You’ve expressed what so many of us have been feeling. I’ve periodically checked in with @marginnote3 / @marginnote - along with @Lanco_Support-Team and many others, but often to no or little avail. I’d just add a few more follow up feature requests & fixes to your list, such as…

I hope @marginnote3 / @marginnote’s staff can respond to these requests promptly. Thank you.



One week has passed. Bump.

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Just past a long International Workers’ Day holiday.

The data export API is actually the original intention of our plugin platform.I agree with providing export plug-ins for the community to modify is the best solution at this stage, in fact, the Chinese community plug-ins are operating in this way. We are still looking for but really have not contracted a native English technical documentation writer, which gives a certain limit to improve the API documentation.

About communication, we have practiced the core user group long test group model in the Chinese community, and have got some achievements. Within the core user group, you can maintain communication with the product team in advance & in real time to understand the technical direction and progress. If you are interested, we can use Discourse or Discord or even the marginnote team office IM (sth like slack) to establish this organization.

Much of our development content is beta, and will even be discarded in the final version, and these features are not suitable for public

The brand new MarginNote is in progress upon the pro designers and product specialists.

Best Regards,

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Perhaps something was lost in translation, but I don’t really understand your message.

Could you give specific answers to each point mentioned in my post of May 1st, and @jprint’s post of May 4th?



A detailed response to each point need to be wait after our Discussion. I will get back to you by next Tuesday

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MN Team has spent the morning researching and discussing the various ideas you mentioned. And we’re trying to make some concepts for solutions.

An invitation to the 1V1 interview has been sent to check whether the exact pain points involved in the concepts were addressed.

We have read through your article many times completely in the form of posts.
However, due to the differences in our background areas of need, understanding some of the details through the interview can be more direct feedback.

The relevant invitation email has been sent, there will be a simultaneous interpretation.
Looking forward to your participation.


Reading the company replies, above, it seems that for the foreseeable future MarginNote’s development and support is focused on the China market, and other markets will be a low priority due to lack of resources to support those markets.

Perhaps it would be best if the company sold rest-of-world rights for markets outside of China to a development shop in Europe, Australia or North America in return for a royalty on sales in those markets? My impression is that the dual-market strategy, managed out of China, has not been successful in garnering user satisfaction.


We’ve opened up all the data, give it a try, it’s very easy

I’m posting this to apprise other MarginNote users of what has happened.

I received an invitation from MarginNote staff in May, to which I replied on May 21st, asking about a time and date for the meeting.

Since then, there has been no response.

It’s not so surprising, really. This has been the consistent patten in all of my communication with the MarginNote team: they express good intentions but they do not follow through. I must agree with @quorm, above, that the company doesn’t have resources to support the product outside of the Chinese market.

Anyway, I’m done with this discussion. No reason to continue here.

Good luck to all of you with your work and research. :slight_smile:


@mobo @Lanco_Support-Team did anything ever come out of these discussions?

@sisyphus , there was no discussion, at least not with me. It never happened. See my post, above.

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Sadly, I fear this is spot on. It’s extremely disappointing. @marginnote3 is a product that has shown great promise, but it’s developers just don’t seem to get it and care about customer feedback. Such a shame.