Amazon has a great reading platform in the Kindle, but sometimes it’s not enough.
Sometimes I need to take the notes I make in a Kindle ebook and use them elsewhere. Amazon doesn’t make it easy for us to do that, but luckily there are other ways.
Back in 2015 I needed to export my Kindle notes, so I did some digging and rounded up a few tools which would help me do just that. The tools range from the simple (copy+paste from a web browser) to the inaccessible (an iPhone app and a Mac-only script).
Now it’s March 2019, and about half the tools mentioned in the original post are gone. So I have updated the post with corrected info and I’ve also pruned the tools that have died in the past four years.
The available tools have changed a lot over the years. For example, Amazon used to have a site called Kindle.Amazon.com where you could find your note and highlights, see what other people were writing in the margins, etc. Unfortunately, that is gone now.
That page was sorta replaced by Read.amazon.com, but not really.
The new page won’t let you access all of your notes, and there’s no export option, so it’s not really that useful for our current goal.
Edit: The above statement might not be true. I am double checking.
So let’s start with the simple trick that still works.
Look in the documents folder of your E-ink Kindle and you’ll see a file named myclippings.txt. This is a text file of all of the notes and highlights made on your Kindle (but not on the other Kindles or Kindle apps on your account). You can copy this folder to your PC and open it.
Boom. You can now copy and past your notes into other documents, emails, etc.
Did you know you can have your Kindle email your annotations to you? (I didn’t until Tom told me.) Amazon will email the notes and highlights to the address on your Amazon account. They will arrive as a PDF and a CSV attached to the email.
You can access the export option from the Notes menu which can be found in the 3 dot menu dropdown inside the ebook you’re reading.
iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
The Kindle apps for iOS and Android have a feature which is also
not shared by the Kindle Fire tablets. They have a notebook menu where you can find all of the highlights and notes for an ebook.
This menu is accessible from inside the ebook, and one of the things you’ll find there is an option to share your annotations by email. Here’s what it looks like on the iPad:
The notebook menu can be accessed from inside a book, but the way you find it differs between Android, iOS, and the Kindle Fire.
On iOS, click the “sheet of paper” icon in the upper right corner. The export button is in the upper right corner of the notebook menu. The exported notes don’t look very good, but this trick does let you pull the notes out of even a side-loaded ebook.
On Android, click the “3 dots” icon in the upper right corner, and then select the Notebook option from the dropdown menu. You can either create flashcards or export the notes to Drive, by email, or by Android Beam.
On the Kindle Fire, open the ebook and press the center of the screen. One of the icons you will see across the top of the screen will look like a piece of paper. That is the notebook menu, and the export option is in the upper right corner.
This nifty little bookmarklet is simple and works great with Chrome. After you install it, you use it be opening one an ebook’s highlights page on Read.amazon.com and then clicking the bookmarklet button.
I liked Bookcision because it worked well with Chrome. With other web browsers, you can save the notes to the clipboard, but with Chrome I also get multiple download options (text, XML, JSON). The latter two options include a link to the note’s location in the ebook.
When I first published this post, Notescraper was an Apple Script based tool which basically did the same thing as Bookcision. It copied the notes from a book’s highlights page on Kindle.amazon.com and created local file on your Mac. But it’s now 2019, and I don’t know whether this script will work just as well on Read.Amazon.com, but I am including it just in case it still works.
There are a couple versions of the Notescraper tool, including one which works with Evernote. But since I don’t have a Mac, I can’t comment on how well it works.
Speaking of Evernote, its webclipping can be used to import your notes and highlights.
This tool can be used to copy part of a page or an entire webpage into your Evernote account, and I’m told it works well to copy notes from a book’s highlights page on Read.amazon.com.
But you might want to manually select the book notes though and copy and paste. There’s one report that the page has an infinite scroll built-in that messes up one user’s Evernote clipper.
And while we’re on the topic, Microsoft’s OneNote has a similar clipping tool. It takes screenshots so it’s not nearly as useful, but if you already use that platform then it’s worth a look.
Clippings.io is supposed to offer an easy to use online service for managing your Kindle notes and highlights, but I haven’t found a good reason to continue using it.
While I was setting it up, I noticed that this “free” service works with a Chrome plugin which costs $2 (you can also find the myclippings.txt file and upload it). That turned me off, and since it basically duplicates activities I already perform on my PC, I plan to close the tab and forget about it.
And last but not least, calibre. This ebook library tool can not only send ebooks to your Kindle, it can also fetch the annotations from a Kindle – only there’s a catch.
This only works when you have your Kindle plugged into your PC over USB. And it apparently doesn’t work for newer Kindles.
I found this trick while researching this post, and I also found a bug report which says that this feature doesn’t work with newer Kindles. I can’t get it to work with my Paperwhites, for example.
But since it might work for you, I’m including it here. Head on over to JetShred for instructions and more details.
All in all, there are a lot of tools out there that either don’t work, aren’t terribly useful, or are intended to work in only specific circumstances.
But I found at least one tool that I like, so I’m good.
Did you find one you could use? Did I miss one?
The comments are open.