How to automatically export kindle notes and highlights from books you didn’t buy from Amazon

Stop messing with "my clippings.txt" or mbp files!  Here's a way to instantly export your highlights to your kindle.amazon.com page.

Stop messing with “my clippings.txt” or mbp files! Here’s a way to instantly export your highlights to your kindle.amazon.com page.

This is a part of my goal to become more organized and to automate processes in my life to simplify and save time.

The Problems

  • Amazon’s restrictions on the kindle only lets you export highlights and notes from books you’ve bought from Amazon.  This leaves notes you’ve taken for any other documents trapped on your kindle.  I like to download blog posts and other documents onto my kindle so I can read them away from my computer.   So far it seems there’s no easy way to get these notes out of the kindle without connecting your kindle to your computer and going through the documents folder.  Is it possible to get around the restriction without hacking the kindle?
  • I needed a way to reference my highlights and notes for blog posts or for a future actions.  Since I use trello for project management I wanted to see if it was possible to import all of my kindle notes to trello.

The Solution Part 1 – Exporting personal document notes out of your kindle

One workaround is to use the share function after highlighting the passage. 

Normally highlights from books not purchased from Amazon are trapped on your kindle.  The kindle will not upload to your Amazon profile.

However, using the “share” option for the quote instead of the “highlight” or “notes” option forces Amazon to upload the snippet to your “Recent Activities” page.

So first, you’ll want to link up your twitter account to your kindle. I set up a new private twitter account just for book notes because I didn’t want to flood my normal twitter account.

Now you can go and share your highlights.  Then click the link from your tweet.  From there you’ll want to click on the orange link with your profile’s name.  This will take you to your main “Recent Activities” page which contains all your “shared” highlights.

hub-mag-kindle-twitter-export-personal-documentsThe url for this page should be something like https://kindle.amazon.com/profile/Your-Nickname/YourIDNumber and all of your shared highlights (even from your own documents) will be stored there.

kindle-notes-export-non-amazon-store-documents-books

The Solution Part 2 – Importing your notes to trello

The semi-automated (copy paste) method

You can now copy and paste all your highlights straight from your kindle activity page into trello.  I like to create a card/list in trello for each book I’m reading.   As each highlight shows up on a separate line  you can just paste the data straight into trello and each highlight will show up as a new item.

Use rss feeds and ifttt to automatically convert new highlights into trello cards.

Alternatively if you have a paid subscription to feedity then you can use ifttt to email any new highlights straight to your trello list.

You’ll need to create a rss feed of your kindle page if you want a truly “hands off” import of your notes and highlights to trello.

I found free services such as Page2Rss and the free version of feedity too limiting to work for this method.

Remember to change the “email to board” settings in your iftt recipe to post to the correct list every time you change books.  Otherwise all your notes will be mixed together in one list. The email address for your boards are hidden in your board’s sidebar.

Email your kindle notes automatically to your trello board.

Email your kindle notes automatically to your trello board.

Pro tip: Set up your ifttt recipe to include #hashtags or @mentions before sending it to trello.  Trello parses #hashtags as labels and @mentions as assignments to your team members.

P.S. If you do decide to check out trello, could you please sign up using my referral link?  It’s still free for you and I’ll get a month of trello gold for free.  I will be very grateful! Thanks!

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11 comments on “How to automatically export kindle notes and highlights from books you didn’t buy from Amazon
  1. Samir says:

    I tried this (Sep 28, 2014) and when I share via Twitter, that link goes to an Amazon page showing only that text, nothing else. So didn’t work for me. Would look forward to other suggestions to get Personal Document highlights on the kindle cloud so they can be exported.

    • A. says:

      Samir,

      Yes that’s correct. You’ll have to click on your profile on that page and go to your main “recent activities” page to see all the highlights. From there you can copy and paste all the notes at once and export them to whichever format you prefer.

  2. Samir says:

    Thanks for your reply. I sent an E-mail to you with a screen shot as I’m still having difficulties.

    • A. says:

      Samir,

      Only highlights that you’ve shared will show up on the recent activities page. So if you have any existing highlights or notes they won’t be uploaded to your kindle profile. 🙁 Here’s some screenshots of my own profile.

      In the future always use the “share” instead of “highlight” or “notes” option if you’re reading a non-Amazon book.

      Sharing notes from your non-Amazon purchased books on your kindle

      There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the number of updates on your profile page. I’ve shared hundreds of notes from a single personal document and amazon posts all of them on my activities page.

  3. Samir says:

    Thank you for explaining that when I read the document, I need to share it instead of highlight it. That makes sense.

  4. Kellie says:

    I can’t find a “Share” option in my personal documents. I have Colour, Note, Copy, Play, and More (which offers Search in Book and Search the Web). The file in question is a .mobi file that shows up in the Documents section of my Kindle Fire. I have connected my Twitter account, and I *can* share/post highlights from e-books I bought from Amazon. Any suggestions for me?

    • A. says:

      Hi Kellie,

      I don’t have a Kindle Fire, so I’m not sure about those options… but I do know that some mobi files have sharing disabled. There’s a workaround where you import the file from your Kindle to Calibre with the DeDRM plugin, remove the sharing restrictions, and then you’ll have to upload the restriction free file back to your kindle. It’s a bit of a pain, but this is one of the only ways to remove sharing restrictions on Amazon/mobi files. 🙁

  5. Luxen says:

    Thank you for this excellent article. Works as advertised 🙂
    Another way to enable sharing is to use mobi2mobi application and remove “source” < no need to 're-convert or anything.

  6. Fion says:

    Thank you so, so, so much for this. I can’t describe how relieved I am to have found something that works to get my highlights off my kindle. I’d been using it for reading a course text and just assumed there would be an easily exportable file at the end!

    Thank you for making this so easy to follow.

  7. renae says:

    Clippings.io allows you to extract notes and highlights from non-amazon books.

  8. Samir says:

    I wrote a Visual Basic macro that takes the highlights and puts it into an Excel table with page number and highlights/notes.

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