Hook Version 1.7 (3391) is now available — Supports Apple Books!

This release, Hook 1.7 (3391), adds support for Apple Books! And it fixes a bug.

1. NEW: Support for Apple Books

You can now use Hook on epub books open in Apple Books. Use Copy Link or Copy Markdown Link to get a link to the book. Paste it anywhere. Use Hook to New on a book to instantly create a new note that is hooked to your book! You can choose whatever linkable app you’d like to take notes with! The ‘notes item’ can even be a mind-map app, outline, spreadsheet, or software development project (great for trying out sample code in programming books). Open the Hook window on a book to see & access what’s hooked to it, and on the note to see & access the book.

We designed Hook to enhance the usefulness of your favorite apps. With its 1.7 release, becomes an even more significant note-taking aid. Whether you are reading in Apple Books or a PDF reader, we feel that being able to take notes outside the document, in the app of your choice, is a game changer.

2. Other

  • FIXED an issue that could lead to duplicate or asymmetric hooks.

For more information

For more information see today’s blog post, Take Deep Notes about Apple Books Using Outliners, MindMapping, Task Managers, Spreadsheets, IDEs, and More – Hook.


Thank you to everyone who contributed information to this and previous releases.

Support for recognizing book titles in Books.app courtesy of Timing.

post revision history

2020-06-11@ 10:13: I deleted a spurious link to this forum.

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When I select text in a book in Apple Books, and invoke Hook 1.7, Hook says “No linkable item found in Alfred.”

Why “Alfred” – I was selecting text in the book, not in Alfred.

Also, how do I link to the selected text? I want to be able to have my notes managed by Hook tie in directly to passages in the book in Apple Books.

Is that possible? I’m a bit lost here.


Thank you much for this, @katie_v. Am I correct to suppose you are running macOS 10.15.x ? I forgot to write up the documentation on this, i.e., that the function Hook uses to get the title of Books ebooks requires Screen Recording permission. (Hook just uses that for the title, not for anything else of course.) Hook should present an alert the first time you invoke it in Books under 10.15. Did Hook not do this?

This actually requires quitting Hook after its first interaction with Books, and relaunching it.

Re: how to recover from that first usage of Hook if users don’t follow through with permissions, because Apple’s screen recording permission framework does not follow the same API (and UI, for that matter) as its other permissions functions, Hook cannot prompt the user as gracefully as for other apps. (And that’s why Books is not listed in Hook’s Scripts editor). So in Hook 1.7/macOS 10.15, if permissions for this are not granted, then Hook will subsequently silently fail to work in Apple Books, without Hook providing users another dialog box. (Hopefully Apple will improve this in 10.16).

Solution: Users can manually add permissions for Hook to work in Books using these instructions from Apple: Control access to screen recording on Mac - Apple Support. However, unlike Apple’s other permissions UI, there is no “+” button to add apps. Users need to first run Hook, and quit Hook, to see it listed in that System Preferences panel. Then users can manually click the Hook checkbox in that Systems Preferences panel. Then relaunch Hook and you can use it in Books.

We’ll write a specific Help page for this asap. Hook’s current implementation of this is designed not to over prompt the user. But we may be under prompting them. We will also revisit Hook’s + Books initial UI interactions, and possibly provide more guidance to the user. Hook’s status bar in the context of Books could contain tips for instance. Or we could provide another dialog box.

I’ll reply separately about the inline annotation vs. linked documents approach to note-taking.

Don’t know. Perhaps you previously selected “Alfred”? When Hook says “No linkable item found in”, ⌘C should do nothing. Or maybe another tool capturing ⌘C? (One of us here looked at the Alfred app and could not reproduce it.)

deep linking is not yet universally supported in Apple Books. Apple writes to authors.

If the other book was created with iBooks Author, you can link to a specific location in it by using the format in the “Add links to other parts of the same book in an HTML Widget” section above. Just include the asset ID in the link. Here are some examples:
Linking to a specific part of a different book is only supported for non-EPUB format books created with iBooks Author. If you use the asset ID of an EPUB and specify a page number, the EPUB will open, but not to the correct page. You can also use links that include the asset ID in other apps, such as Mail and iTunes U, and the links will open in Apple Books.

Elsewhere, I’ve made the distinction between inline annotations and “meta-docs” which are notes that are external to the book. Two cases:

If from your meta-doc, you’d like to reference a specific location in a book or PDF, you can generate a unique ID and paste it in in an Apple Books inline annotation (“note”), and the specific deep part of your meta-doc. e.g., functions-6UCP8.

The same goes if you’d like to reference a deep part of your meta-doc from a book. I personally use the convention ^ for anchors and # for references ( ^functions-6UCP8 and #functions-6UCP8) but one can skip that because the IDs don’t clash in different realms (the book vs. the notes).

Even without this trick, it’s helpful to create notes about entire books, chapters, etc., and to be able to navigate between them. The blog post I mentioned above gives some general pointers of types of information one might want to link (outlines, mind maps, tasks, etc).

There are also ways to systematically ‘tag’ text in Books and PDFs by using conventions, which I described in Cognitive Productivity with macOS: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge. They go beyond Hook. These tags go beyond Hook, but they’re helpful for elaborating one’s meta-docs. They involve the use of text expansion utilities, like SmileSoftware’s TextExpander. e.g.,
I use the tag ,,?: to tag text I don’t understand in a book.I use the shortcut ,? (on iOS or macOS). Later I go through the book to deal with all the things I don’t understand. (Empirical and apriori research show that the best learners are great at identifying what they do not know, their " knowledge gaps" or “knowledge flaws”.) There are many other helpful tags such as:

,~: for “I disagree”
,Important: ( my abbreviation, ,impt)

So, in one’s “meta-docs” (external notes) one can then deal with/ focus on things one doesn’t understand or that are important. One can add new terms to one’s productive practice system (e.g., using Anki). In anki, one can paste ebook links for easy cross-platform look up.

Using TextExpander makes it very easy to write tags. . Such systems may appear esoteric, but it’s very easy to learn the abbreviation to tag mapping because there is a small set of responses to text that frequently get re-used. The system also helps one become more “meta” , reflective and systematic about one’s responses to text.

Oh, and please stay tuned for imminent announcements from CogSci Apps related to such systematic “delving” (deep reading, etc.) :wink:

Books is the only app for which Hook needs to do this. If anyone is curious or simply wants to reset their ScreenCapture preferences for Hook, they can use this command:
tccutil reset ScreenCapture com.cogsciapps.hook
after doing that, the next time Hook is invoked in the context of Books, you will see the permission dialog box.

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