Pypapers: a bare-bones, command line, PDF manager

Ever felt like softwares like Mendeley or Papers are great, but somehow slow you down? Ever felt like none of the many reference manager softwares out there will ever cut it for you, cause you need something R E A L L Y SIMPLE? I did. Many times. So I've finally crossed the line and tried out building a simple commmand-line PDF manager. PyPapers, is called.

Yes - that's right - command line. So not for everyone. Also: this is bare bones and pre-alpha. So don't expect wonders. It basically provides a simple interface for searching a folder full of PDFs. That's all for now!

Key features (or lack of)

  • Mac only, I'm afraid. I'm sitting on the shoulders of a giant. That is, mdfind.
  • No fuss search in file names only or full text
  • Shows all results and relies on Preview for reading
  • Highlighting on Preview works pretty damn fine and it's the ultimate compatibility solution (any other software kinds of locks you in eventually, imho)
  • Open source. If you can code Python you can customise it to your needs. If you can't, open an issue in github and I may end up doing it.
  • It recognises sub-folders, so that can be leveraged to become a simple, filesystem level, categorization structure for your PDFs (eg I have different folders for articles, books, news etc..)
  • Your PDFs live in the Mac filesystem ultimately. So you can always search them using Finder in case you get bored of the command line.

First impressions

Pretty good. Was concerned I was gonna miss things like collections or tags. But I found a workaround: first, identify the papers I am interested in. Then, create a folder in the same directory and symlink them in there (= create an alias).

It's not quite like uncarved wood... but it definitely feels simple enough!

Cite this blog post:

Michele Pasin. Pypapers: a bare-bones, command line, PDF manager. Blog post on Published on June 30, 2019.


See also: