Although I am still mainly an old-fashioned print book aficionado, I am slowly becoming attracted to the idea of eBooks. I like the idea of having thousands of books in my pocket, and I especially like being able to export Kindle notes and iBook notes from what I have read.
Preferring to have a foot in both worlds, I have an iPad so I can read ePUB books on iBooks, and the iOS Kindle app to read Amazon’s offerings.
While I read, I use the highlighting feature to highlight passages, as you would with a pen and a print book. The tablet also enables you to attach virtual post-it notes to your highlights.
How To Export Kindle Notes And iBook Notes From Your iPad
Here is how to easily get those highlights and notes off your eBook reader when you are done reading on your iPad. I will also show you a couple of other methods.
iBooks comes pre-installed with iOS devices, but you can now uninstall most standard Apple apps. If you decided to uninstall iBooks in the past, you can redownload it here. Likewise, the Kindle app for iOS is here. Both are free.
I have just finished Tim Ferriss’ Tools Of Titans (after 6 months!), and as usual, Tim had a lot of good stuff to share. That means lots of highlights and notes. Time to get them out of the iBooks app and into somewhere I can use them.
First, click the hamburger icon in the top left hand corner. If you don’t see it, tap on the screen and it will come up.
On the screen that appears, three tabs are at the top – Contents, Bookmarks, and Notes. Click on Notes.
Now you will see all the notes and highlights you made in the book. To get them out of the Kindle app, click “Edit Notes“.
In the top left hand corner, it will say “Select All“. Assuming you want ALL the notes out, click “Select All” and every note gets a tick next to it. Otherwise, click “Select All” then go down the list and untick the ones you don’t want exported.
Once you have decided what you want exported, click “Share” in the top left hand corner. This will drop down a box with various sharing options. Yours may slightly vary depending on what relevant apps you have installed on your tablet.
I always find that email is the easiest option, so I always go for that one. You may decide to save the notes in a document in Dropbox or iCloud Drive. Everybody has their own preferences.
If you click “Mail“, an email box will come up with all of your book notes and highlights already automatically pre-populated in the email window.
Note however that you must have the iOS Mail app already set up and configured. I will show you at the end of the article how to do that if you don’t already know.
You can copy and paste the notes from the email into a word processing document.
Exporting From MacOS iBooks
There is also an iBooks app for the MacOS (available through the Mac App Store). If you are one of those weird people who like to read their books on a big computer screen, you can export your notes and highlights from there too.
Open up the book in iBooks, and in the top-left corner, click the far-right notes icon. This opens up the notes.
Click in one of the notes or highlights to highlight it. Then press the key combination CMD and A to select ALL the notes and highlights. Then press CMD and C to copy them all to the MacOS clipboard.
Now open a text editing program such as Pages, LibreOffice, or TextEdit. Press CMD and V to paste the contents of the clipboard into the document.
Kindle is slightly more involved than Apple iBooks, as you will soon see. But it is not overly complicated.
When the book is open, tap on the screen to bring up the title bar. Now click on the notes icon, third from the right.
You will now see all of your notes and highlights. Click the sharing icon in the top-right corner to select which export option you would much rather have.
Kindle disappoints in this regard, in that you only get two options, and the “flashcards” option sucks in my opinion. So, email it is.
This is now where things start to get a bit awkward. Unlike iBooks, Kindle imposes a strict maximum on how much of the book you can highlight. It’s obviously to stop people highlighting all of the book and exporting it.
This means that if you go over 10%, the Export option will be greyed out and made unavailable. So you will have to go back into the book, and remove any non-essential highlights to get below the magic 10%. This is harder than it sounds if you have a lot of highlighted passages.
Once you have got below 10% – and the Export option turns blue – the next step is to choose the “Citation Style”. Why does Amazon have to needlessly complicate everything?
Assuming you can live without your Chicago Style and not break down if you don’t get MLA, choose “None” then press Export.
But wait, Jeff Bezos hasn’t stopped messing with you yet. He has one more dirty trick up his sleeve. The book is exported as a HTML attachment! Yes, a webpage.
If you download the HTML file from your email inbox, and click it, it will open up in your default browser. As you can see, it is not exactly pretty.
You can copy and paste the text into a word processing document, and get rid of the terrible HTML file.
Exporting Kindle Notes From Amazon.com
It is less known among Kindle readers that you can actually view your notes inside the Amazon website itself.
One caveat to note up-front is that it will only show you the notes for books you have legally bought. If you are given a MOBI format book by someone (MOBI is a DRM-less file format compatible with Kindle), you can send it to Kindle and read it there without any problems. But because Amazon will have no record of you buying it from them, your notes and highlights will not show up.
Assuming the book is legal, sign into Amazon’s Kindle section. At the top, click on Your Highlights. This will bring up all of your books and everything you have highlighted in them.
The signup page is the same, whether your Amazon/Kindle account is registered in the USA, UK, France, Germany, wherever. Now copy the notes and paste them into a word processing document.
Setting Up Apple Mail
If you decide to export the notes using the email option, you will need the Mail app pre-configured. Here’s how to quickly do it in iOS and Mac. The iOS version is the same for both the iPhone and iPad.
Go to Settings–>Mail–>Accounts and tap Add Account. Choose your desired account and log in.
Once you are logged in, make sure the Mail option is turned on.
You can now send email using the Mail app on iOS. However, you will have to repeat the process if you have more than one iOS device. Your login settings are not stored on iCloud.
Go to System Preferences and choose Internet Accounts. Choose your desired email service and log in.
When you’ve logged in, click on it in the left-hand column. On the right, you can see the different functions you can assign that email address to do on your Mac. Make sure “Mail” is checked.
Once you have checked Mail, you can now send email with the Mail app.
Nobody knows if eBooks will ultimately spell the end of print books. Everytime we write the obituary for print books, they come back to life like Lazarus. Indeed, print sales are once again surpassing eBook sales.
But if Kindle and iBooks start loading nice new features into their reading apps, people will start to feel the urge to break away from their print books and fully embrace digital. It’s the same as always – people always like new toys to play with.
If you know of another way to export your notes and highlights, let us know in the comments.