Tinderbox Forum

Basic Question: Importing Citation from Bookends or Zotero

Pardon me for what may be a very basic question as I get started in Tinderbox, but I cannot find an answer in the various forms of Tinderbox documentation.

I am trying to import citations from Zotero and/or Bookends into Tinderbox. Online I see examples such as this which have a circle which can be used a an active link back to the item in Bookends:

When I try to import however, I do not get the link back to Bookends or Zotero, nor does the ReferenceURL have the circle as active hyperlink. Moreover I am in a different viewing mode since I do not have the “Text/Preview/HTML” options.

I suspect there is something basic about the process of importing into Tinderbox that I have not found. Can someone point me in the right direction?

Welcome from the DEVONthink forums!

The first thing you need to know is that you can find extensive documentation here:


The best way to import from Bookends into Tinderbox is by drag and drop. Information here:


Read the instructions carefully! Especially the bit about pressing the modifier keys before clicking and dragging.

PS: also have a look at this:



And this:


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Yes I am doing a Command-Option Drag

Apparently part of my problem was configuring "Edit Displayed Attributes:

But I still cannot get hyperlinks/URLs which are active when clicked - how do I get the circles which I believe serve that function?


And why does the Text/Preview/HTML selector briefly appear and then disappear on startup?


The “circles” are icons. Which operating system are you using? It may be a visual glitch in Big Sur. I don’t have the icons in Big Sur, but clicking on the point where it would be takes me to the item in Bookends.

The missing icons in Displayed Attributes is indeed a Big Sur bug. The hotspot to click the link is actually there – the icon is missing. Click at approximately where the pointer appears in this image:

(BTW the missing icon is not a circle – it’s a globe – world wide web and all that.)

Any URL-type attribute, when viewed in the Displayed Attributes table or the Get Info pop-overs attributes tab will show a globe icon. When clicked, Tinderbox passes the value of that attribute to macOS Finder. Importantly, it is Finder [sic] that decides what app (or none) is used.

URLs, can be any Web-type URL (e.g. http://, https://, ftp://) or an application’s pseudo-protocol. You can also use the file:/// protocol for local files, but the File-type attribute is likely a better thing to use.

If clicking the globe icon does nothing, the problem may lie outside Tinderbox, noting that is it is Finder and not Tinderbox that decides what to do with the URL.

. ‘pseudo-protocol’: Something that can be accessed in the manner of a protocol but is not in fact a protocol. A number of apps such as Bookends, DEVONthink, Tinderbox, MarginNote, to name a few that allow the user to link between data in such apps that are on the same Mac (or possibly the same local network—look at each app’s documentation for detail). Here, is an example of the pseudo-protocol for a single Bookends reference, as copied from my Mac: bookends://sonnysoftware.com/61228. The example is to show the general syntax. The bookends:// part is the pseudo-protocol and that which tell Finder what app to open and to which to pass the data.

App pseudo-protocol-documention. This is a very incomplete list of app and docs, but may help give a flavour:

  • bookends://. Bookends. PDF manual, p.74.
  • x-devonthink-item://. DEVONthink. App Help, article ‘Item Links’
  • tinderbox://. Tinderbox. aTbRef: Tinderbox URL schema.
  • omnioutliner://. OmniOutliner. App Help: The Edit Menu, at Copy as Link.
  • etc. There are other apps I don’t have, such as MarginNote, that have similar affordances. In making this list i’m reminded that , for better or worse, this inter-app ‘glue’ is generally not obvious to the non-techie user and ‘lightly’ documented. But most (all?) of these apps have user forums and/or tech support that are proactive, so don’t be reserved at asking for help/pointers to examples.

These are hidden by default. I believe the enactment is deliberate to, to remind people those options are there.

Got it

Window - Show Text Pane Selector


Ahah! Thank you. That explains why this program that is terrific at hypertexting could not display any hypertext for me!

Is this a known bug for which there is a plan to fix it?

Under the Window menu: Show/Hide Text Pane Selector.

It is not an attribute of the note.

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Yes. Fix probably depends on some future release of Big Sur – @eastgate could confirm.

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why does the Text/Preview/HTML selector briefly appear and then disappear on startup?

When hiding the text pane selector became the default for new documents, we added an initial animation to help remind people that the selector remained present if wanted.

Would be nice if we had an option on which, hiding or showing, is the default. I turn on text pane selection with every document.