iPad PDF Reading Roundup

iPad PDF Reading Roundup


Let me start by saying I don’t yet have an iPad (darn that need vs. want distinction). Therefore, this post is not a review of these different iPad apps for PDF viewing and document management, but more of a roundup of apps I have coveted from afar.

With that said, I have used some of them, but on my iPod Touch, not an actual iPad. If you have anything to add about any of these apps, definitely leave a note in the comments.

Ready? Lets go.

To start with, what some people don’t realize is that you don’t need to find a “PDF reader app” to have a good document experience on the iPad:

Dropbox (Service free up to 2GB, App is free): I am sure you are saying “what the, isn’t Dropbox a file syncing app?’). Yes, yes it is. However, it is also my favorite PDF viewer on the iPhone. If there are any PDFs or other documents I want to be able to access on the go, I throw them into my Dropbox folder and it syncs it up with the app. It’s really great.

Evernote (Service free to store PDFs and images and transfer 40MB/month, App is free): Any regular readers know that I am a fan of Evernote, and they recently released an iPad version of their great app. Free users can sync individual notes/documents for offline viewing, and Premium users can sync entire notebooks and store any type of document.

Box.net (Service free up to 1GB, App is free): Similar to Dropbox, it is a cloud-based service that stores all your files and then you can view them on the app. Box.net also lets you share files with other users. One thing it doesn’t have is local storage which Dropbox and Evernote do have.

Of course, if you just want an actual PDF reading, “there’s an app for that”:

PDF Reader Pro (.99 on iTunes): Allows you to view a bunch of document formats and syncs via Wi-Fi or USB.

GoodReader (.99 on iTunes): Syncs via wifi or USB and has “automatic reflow” to automatically wrap words. It integrates with Box.net, Dropbox, and Google Docs which is pretty cool. GoodReader also views Office, iWork, images, audio, and video.

ReaddleDocs for iPad (4.99 on iTunes): Pretty similar to GoodReader from what I can tell.

iAnnotate PDF (9.99 on iTunes): It’s not just a PDF reader, but it also will let you actually mark up/annotate/highlight the documents. It integrates the PDF annotations right into the file so they carry over to Acrobat or Preview if you send the document to someone. One thing it lacks is integration with Dropbox/Google Docs etc. You have to transfer the files by USB, iTunes sync, or a desktop transfer software.

So there you go, a list to get you started. Any killer apps that I missed? Any good/bad/otherwise experience with any of these? Leave a note in the comments.

Update: I am adding Fast PDF as a write-in vote from people in the comments.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 7 comments

Alex Satrapa - July 7, 2011 Reply

ReaddleDocs also allows annotation of PDFs. I've contacted the developer about implementing OpenMeta tagging and they've indicated that it will be considered for the future. ReaddleDocs can use Dropbox, email attachments, WebDAV services or built-in browser to retrieve documents.

My favourite PDF reader on the iPad is Stanza, but I use Stanza for reference material (instruction manuals, typically) rather than documents that are part of a paperless workflow.

    Brooks Duncan - July 7, 2011 Reply

    Thanks a lot. I need to do an update of this post actually. it's getting pretty out of date!

Luella Dock - September 25, 2010 Reply

Awesome Post, thanks for this great Post. I will come back later .. Great information about ipad : ipad

MacTeo - May 28, 2010 Reply

Yes absolutely add Fast PDFhttp://fastpdf.eu

    Brooks Duncan - May 28, 2010 Reply

    Thanks! Added it to the post as a write-in vote.

Jeff Malone - May 25, 2010 Reply

I've tried most of those you mentioned. Dropbox is great for viewing my smaller PDF's but if it's a manual I put it in Fast PDF. It's the best PDF reader on the iPad – similar to functions of the Kindle for iPad. I saw they tweeted about a new release and the developer answered an email of mine promptly.

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