is Sente abandoned?

Sente has been my favorite reference manager for the last couple of years. It has the most elegant reading interface; the annotation and quotation features are incomparable to any other PDF reader, let alone reference manger. I enjoyed every bit of the time I spend with Sente. Importing reference data, and downloading PDF files alongside, has never been as great. Unlike any other reference manager both in windows and mac environment (I have tried many of them), Sente allows downloading references from a very wide variety of sources. Its targeted browsing has been of utmost service for me. I really love how the application is designed; how it all is implemented. Sente is extremely well-crafted application; much better than Papers and Bookends in many aspects.

But, unfortunately, there is no update of any kind from Thirdstreetsoftware for the last few days. They shut down the blog, and stop replying emails. There are also some internal rummers that Sente might not see developments. I am truly worried if Sente is vanishing into nonexistence; all the time I spend on organizing my library; all the annotations and notes I made….I don’t know how to live without it. Very sad part of proprietary software;  the end is always ugly.

It also makes me wonder what kind of person would develop such a polished application for years; and ultimately abandon it. They have been developing it for IOS quite recently. There should be something seriously wrong!



63 thoughts on “is Sente abandoned?

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  1. I am going to be devastated if this is true. Sente is such a central part of my workflow, and I wouldn’t have any idea how to transfer my current system to another reference manager.

    1. Yah, It really sucks. I have been trying to migrate my reference to Bookends in the weekends. I manage to move most of my references, after a lot of pain. But, I am again worried if Bookends is going to by my reference manger because it totally sucks at downloading PDF

  2. Papers3 is still work in progress / beta. I tried to import my Sente library with tags to no avail. Papers3 does not import tags (from Sente), nor keywords (from Endnote). Papers2 does import EndNote keywords. I imported my Sente via EndNote XML import in Papers2 (with tags now keywords). I then attempted to import the Papers2 library with keywords in Papers3–it does not work. Papers3 does not import Papers2 keywords???!!!

    Papers3 seems to be a development dead-end too. ReadCube does not seem to be developing Papers3, except for known bugs. They are slowly developing ReadCube, but ReadCube still does not import Papers3 library (and tagging is a premium feature). Puzzling, to say the least?!

    Back to Sente.

    I wish Sente were sold to Devonthink to create a complete research tool (QDA with structured reference management). Sente would manage the structured reference database while notes would be managed in the DTP database with link to the Sente ref. records and a shared keywords/tags library.

    There is still the platform issue. I need to run it on my Mac but also my work PC.

    Back to Papers/ReadCube?

    1. Erratum: Keywords were imported from Papers2 to Papers3… But not assigned to any reference. You’d have to re-tagged each reference with the imported keywords.

      I noticed some (slow) functional integration between ReadCube and Papers. ReadCube is not yet fully functional (where is the trash folder?) but has a few advanced features I have longed for, i.e. the ability to filter and search notes as any other reference records. But for whatever reason notes can’t be hash-tagged.

      Work in progress.

  3. As of this weekend Sente is not synching. The connection shows as Offline(Retry). Makes me wonder if this is it for Sente! Anybody now what is going on?

        1. I just discovered this blog while searching the web to see if I was the only one suffering with an ‘offline’ Sente. I guess not. I’ve been using the software for many years and, like everyone else, I’m really sad to see it go. And sadder to have to find a replacement. I’ve read some of the Papers 3 discussion but haven’t seen anything posted recently. I’m a Mac user that needs to sync a large library across several machines. The most important features for me are PDF management and citation manatglement. I never really used the reader in Sente, so that’s not a big issue. Given that, what would you good folks recommend? Papers? Bookends? Looking forward to your thoughts.

          1. My recommendation is generally Bookends. I have also seen recently many people migrating from Papers to Bookends. Bookends is very solid reference mananger. But, I am not sure about the sync thought. I don’t think the syncing in BE is such robust. You can always store the reference database in Dropbox and open them in different times. That needs some care as corruptions of the database could follow.

            1. Thanks for the suggestion. I started to lean that way myself. One last question. I know it’s quite expensive, but how does EndNote stack up against Bookends? If price were not an issue, should I consider that instead. Or do you think that Bookends is still the better way to go. Thanks again!

              1. For my test, BE is much supperior than Endnote. I myself never worried about the price. BE has some automotion tools really, to automatically insert reference data. Furthermore, the support in BE is amazing.

                And, I am not sure if the references with the attachments and tags of Sente can be exported to Endnote. BE has been updating for accommodating the Sente migrants.

                  1. Quick follow up for those who might also be thinking of switching from Sente to BE. I’ve been playing with BE a bit today; exporting references from Sente, scanning cited docs, etc. And thus far have been very impressed. I thought it was going to be very feature-poor compared to Sente but that doesn’t seem to the be the case. Most importantly, it seems intuitive and fairly powerful. Again, this is my opinion after only several hours of toying with it so I’m sure I’ll discover annoyances and limitations as well. But I’ve definitely decided that this will be my Sente replacement.

                    1. Thank you for reporting with your experience. Yes, I think BE is really great app—except I sometimes miss the annotation/quotation(comment) feature of Sente.

    1. yas, we have been emailing Micheal for over a year now. At first, he said he will be fixing issues: then, stop responding at all. It has been already very clear to many of us–when the shut down the blog–that the end of sente is near.

      1. Well, this morning it is synching again! Time to shore things up and move to something else…

        I am strongly considering bookends, but collaborate a lot with others on windows systems. Anybody have experience with sharing references between bookends and other managers such as refworks, endnote and mendeley? A common task would be to send or receive a set of references.

        1. That is not problem for BE. I export a batch of references to my Jabref library everday. It has a formatting system in BE. You can configure it to export in a certain manner: like in Bibtex format or Endnote format. Then, export (copy paste like simple workflow is also possible) and send that. But, to the best effect, it is best if you are exporting to the same template–like Bibtex format or Endnote format–because you don’t have to reconfigure every time you want to send some references.

            1. yes, tags are imported. BE also has recently implemented a similar heirarchical tagging system. But, I am not sure if the heirarchies among the tags can be imported. You can ask the developer. he is very helpful.

  4. It’s really sad to see Sente go. Such a wonderful piece of software. The last few days of looking into Endnote X8 make me depressed. How can they survive, and Sente is dying? Sad!

  5. What I wish is that if they are truly abandoning it, the developers of Sente would at least enable something like iCloud syncing so that we have an ongoing solution for that. Or maybe sell the program to someone else who is willing to update and maintain it. Anything but just abandoning it and leaving our synced libraries in limbo. Sente to me isn’t just a references manager, but the best way I know to read and take notes on my iPad. I’m really, really sad to see it being abandoned this way.

      1. I am trying to contact Michael, but he does not answer. I am trying to install Sente on a new PC but the sync server is out. Does anyone know any workaround for that? Bookends is good, but let’s be clear: still far away from Sente…

        1. The only thing I can think of is manually moving your database (which should include all your attachments in it) from your old computer to your new one and then opening them with Sente. You might need to place it in an identical folder hierarchy so its pointers to attachments don’t break. The app still seems to recognize that I’m registered with it, even though the sync servers themselves are down. So that might work. But you won’t be able to easily go back and forth between the machines, and forget doing anything between an iPad and a Mac for now.

          1. Depending on how many files, you could merge them in Mendeley which is free. I had about 300 files and I exported each one from Sente with annotations to a watch folder and Mendeley easily upload each file and added a reference automatically.

  6. This is disgusting! I was wondering why my Sente was acting up and just realized their site is down. Shame on Michael Cinkosky ! I never got an email or any type of notification that they were shutting down. Did anyone get some sort of email? All I’ve read is that they just started to shut things down. His Facebook pages seems like life is fine. So unprofessional, at least leave the forum up so users can help each other.

      1. No, Dellu. I have not heard anything. I was able to get all my files out of Sente with the PDF annotations. I didn’t use the notes fields so it was straight forward, but very time consuming to export each PDF one at a time into Mendeley. Mendeley allows for the creation of a watch folder that will automatically import and process, so I used this function. I feel bad for folks who have tons of notes they need to get out.

  7. I got a new iMac and trying to get my Sente database to download. With SyncServer out I can’t get my PDF files. Any suggestions?

  8. I have an archive of the hard drive. The old iMac suffered a failed logic board but left the drive intact. I thought of digging for the file. Can I restore Sente or must the files be taken from the Sente package? I have well over 1200 articles in the Sente database. Thank you for the response. -bob

    1. I’d try to get Sente and the library itself. If you made any highlights or notes in the PDF’s themselves you need to export each PDF one at a time with its annotation (highlights and notes are not saved as part of the PDF file in Sente). If you’re looking for a new reference manager, give Bookends at try. It has a super easy script that can import Sente references and the PDF’s very easily. I tried Mendeley but it was asking odd with MS Word on Mac.

  9. Hi FredS,

    Can you explain with a bit more detail about how you were “exporting” PDFs with annotations/notes for either Mendeley or Bookends? My plans for Christmas break are setting up a new PDF manager, but I’ve been using Sente for years, have thousands of annotated PDFs, and hate the idea of losing years of notes/annotations. My experience is that exporting my Sente library as an .xml file and importing to Sente gets me my notes for each text, but in a single block in the “general notes” field, with no annotations or connection to the text (so a block of “yes!” and “connects to Smith 1999” and “cite this for Chapter 5”, pretty useless). Would love to hear if you’ve found a way to preserve the in-text annotations, either for Mendeley or Bookends. I don’t love the fact that mendeley is owned by Elsevier and seems super data-miney, but I’ll put up with it if there’s a way to preserve the years of work contained in my Sente library. This whole process has been so traumatic that it makes me want to shift back to an analog system of printing, filing, and making notes on PDFs!

    1. Hi julialkowalski,

      Well, I moved away from Mendeley after spending some time uploading all the files to it. I tested the functionality to add a inline citation to Word and it was extremely slow, like 30 seconds to drag from Mendeley a single author, date and have it appear in Word. Others have complained as well. I was getting concerned about the way support is handled as well, they may be overwhelmed, who knows. I moved to the Bookends app and I really like it. It’s almost like Sente, and in some ways better. The support in outstanding.

      So in Sente, you have to go to each reference, open the PDF, and export the file through the menu.

      So while in Sente, open a reference and open/load a PDF.
      On the top of the PDF, you will see “PDF” with a down arrow. Click it, and you will get a drop down menu. – – Go down to Export>With Sente Annotations It will ask you where you want to save the file. Your highlights will export (Im not sure what else exports, you will have to test it).

      Take a look at Bookends and use the 14 day trial to test it out. It can import your fields and Unannotated PDF’s from Sente. I couldn’t get the Status field to download though, but everything else seemed to transfer.

      After I did the import into Bookends, I then went one by one and exported each PDF with Annotations, and then moved the PDF to the Attachments folder in Bookends. In Bookends, your PDF’s are stored in one main folder called Attachments, and you can get to it easily through your desktop. This makes it SUPER easy to work with and replace the files that have no annotations. Just make sure you don’t change the PDF file names that you Export with Annotations from Sente.

      I also used Apple Automator, which your Mac should have installed for free, to export each PDF with Annotations. Take a look at it, it would really save your the hassle of exporting each PDF manually. I set-up an Automator and let it run. It’s like setting up a remote control, it exported about 300 PDF’s in about 20 minutes. You just can’t use your Mac as it’s working. Good luck!

      1. Thank you–this is enormously helpful! I was just starting to poke around Bookends and am finding that my notes/highlighted quotes import via xml, though with no links to the text (though at least they are separate, with page numbers–and I can always search for a phrase to find the spot in the pdf). But I will try for the pdf exporter/automator.

        1. First, learn how to do one Export with Annotations. Export to a one specific folder for all the exports. Once you figure it out, search on your Mac for Automator.

          If you are not technical, don’t panic when you see Automator. Create a “Workflow”, and click Record. Then do ONE Export with Annotations, and then click Stop. Then test it out. You will see what it does! You’ll have to create a workflow that goes to Sente, does an Export with Annotations to a folder, then goes down to the next Reference in Sente, and then loops. If you have thousands of PDF’s I think it’s worth giving it try.

          1. Unfortunately, when I try exporting with annotations from Sente, all of the highlighting seems to sit stuck at the bottom of each page. Does anyone know a fix for this? I’m getting ready to probably make the move to Bookends, and it’s going to be a serious bummer losing the highlighting for hundreds of documents.

              1. FredS, sorry for the delayed reply. I did what you listed: in the PDF pane in Sente, click the PDF pulldown menu, go down to Export, and choose With Sente Annotations. Like I said, it’s not outputting useful annotations for me, at least when I view the result in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. There are just a bunch of highlights bunched up at the bottom of the page where there’s no text. Looks the same in Bookends as well.

                1. As far as I know, this process will only show the highlighted text in each PDF, that’s all I had and it worked for me. If you have other items in there like circles or squares or written text as an annotation, I have no idea if the export works.This process doesn’t extract any of the other notes or citation information either. Bookends has a very active forum on their website. Try posting there to see if someone else has gone through this.

                  1. Yeah, it’s only highlighted text, all highlighted through the Sente application. No other sort of markups. Added to which, none of the quoted text that I highlighted carries over either, as you mention. I will indeed bounce over to the Bookends site to check in there. I have a feeling the move out of Sente is going to be a long slog. So extremely annoying.

                    1. Try this maybe. Make a new library and put in a new PDF and highlight something and try the export again. See if that works? Maybe something is acting up in Sente, maybe the database got corrupt? Sente keeps the annotations separate from the actual PDF I think, so maybe the library is corrupted?

  10. Hi all, The interest of having your library synced on Sente servers is that you could annotate it on an ipad and have the annotations synced back on your mac, besides having the security of your whole library being safe on a cloud. But now that Sente servers are off and Sente software is finished, here is my solution (not totally optimal but to my opinion far better than quitting Sente): in your “Library setup”, for “Attachment handling”, use a directory that maps onto a cloud. You can’t use your dropbox or google drive folder as Sente won’t allow them, but just subscribe to another cloud that installs a local folder on your mac and then choose that very folder for your attachments in Sente (for example “box” or perhaps your university cloud system). Usually these clouds also have apps for iphone or android so you’ll be able to read your Sente PDF attachments and possibly annotate them in your other devices, and the annotations will also be synced, since the files will be updated on the cloud and then back on your mac. However you won’t be able to use SENTE for iphone / ipad any longer: you’ll have to browse your files on your cloud; they will be stored in folders named after authors’ then years. It’s not completely optimal but at least you can keep your Sente 6 working and syncing to another cloud. That’s my choice so far.

    1. Yes. that is what I did as well, to have a piece of mind knowing my library is on a cloud. But the real scary part is Sente may stop working one day with an upgrade of macOS, and who knows when…

  11. with more than 1200 pdf including many many annotations, highlights, comments, after some years intensive working only with Sente, this is very very disappointing news and I’m just upset. weird is Without any Warning or notification… just easily gone. I have heard today just by accident and I hope still that something good like the new developer, etc… happen.
    my software and all its functions (without Sync) is still working. all attachments of my library are on my Mac. do you think the software also goes down? I mean do you think migration to an alternative is urgent?
    I have spent so much time on Sente. I am really angry.

    1. Hi Moli. From what I know so far, Sente has been gone for about a year and no one has picked up its development. I was angry too, I only found out two months ago – I don’t live in my reference software since most of the references are in a bibliography somewhere. I don’t think you have to panic and run out to update your software, but you should plan on it. One day you may try something and it doesn’t work, or the app or Sente library could just break, then you are really stuck with no support. A few of us have moved to Bookends, and it has an import function for Sente users. I really like Bookends a TON more than Sente, and it’s getting updated all the time with features, and I’ve only used it for a about two months now.

  12. For people trying to migrate from Papers 3 to Bookends, I’ve written a script to export your publications, PDFs & annotations from Papers to Bookends:

    It would be great to have something similar for Sente, but it’s simply not scriptable enough. And direct database access is a tricky business. Not sure if Sente Assistant ( could be re-purposed to help with automated data migration from Sente.

    1. For Sente, I used Automator to go to each citation row in Sente, open the PDF within Sente, export the PDF with Annotations and then delete the citation. It can be fun to watch the arrow move around with each step. Since it’s running manually, you have to leave your Mac alone as it exports the files.

  13. If I do this:

    …in your “Library setup”, for “Attachment handling”, use a directory that maps onto a cloud…

    Will the .pdf files stored in the chosen directory include annotations made within Sente?

  14. Hi there again – with the highlighting issue, I’m just wondering if it is to do with the version of Sente. It is notworking with 6.7.11 – I’m getting the highlighting at the bottom of the PDF even with a brand new library. Will make finally transferring a bit painful! Cheers – Deb.

  15. Longtime user of Sente and I invested a lot of time, like others, on getting my library organized and integrated in my workflow. The ease by which I could annotate PDFs on an ipad, make notes/tags on them–and Sente was the ONLY reference manager that actually recorded the REAL page numbers with your notes–and then export the notes, was unmatched (and still is) by any reference manager out there. I was also a beta tester back in the day for new features. The loss of Sente is felt deeply, But I wanted to write in and ask if anyone has had any progress in the note-taking function of Sente, which to me was its most valuable function. I have found

    Margin Note : which also reads epubs and you can export your notes to OPML or omnioutliner

    TagNotate , which MIGHT be abandonware, as it hasn’t been updated in a while.

    No other reference manager offers the extensive note taking features Sente did, or do they? The only one that comes close is Citavi which only runs on Windows..though a beta has been in the works for a while to get it on the web. Citavi allows you to take PDF notes, but also to organize those notes into outlines. Really incredible actually. We need this on a mac platform!

    Anyway, if you have any thoughts on notetaking, that would be great, Rich

    1. Bookends has annotation and note taking features. The IOS version of Bookends specially is very nice to annotate and take notes. The problem I have with the Bookends ios is that it requires subscription (for icloud and for the app itself).

    2. Hi Rich, having worked for reference managers like Citavi and Papers, I agree that, for an academic workflow, it’s crucial to have some good tools which integrate bibliographic knowledge with annotation & note taking. This motivated me to start working on a (yet to be released) Mac app for personal info and knowledge management:

      The app is meant to ease a typical academic reading & note taking workflow: When you highlight some text in a PDF, it will extract this quotation (together with its real page number) into a plaintext (MultiMarkdown) note. It can also automatically add the PDF’s publication info (citekey, formatted reference & DOI) from your reference manager. You can then add a title, assign a color label, rating & keywords, and add any comments or cross links. This will allow you to create a network of semantically rich and linked notes.

      The app will be nicely scriptable and integrate with other scriptable apps such as Bookends & DEVONthink. See the website for more info (the latest status report in the Keypoints forums also offers a little screencast).

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