Looking back through my old posts, I was simultaneously astonished and chagrined that I had not yet written anything about Goodreader.
It was one of my early purchases on the iPad and has been one of my top, go-to apps since. It might not be the prettiest pdf reader out there, but I have found it absolutely invaluable, thanks to its easy, integrated functionality.
Highlight, Annotate and Export like the Champ that you are
I purchased my iPad 2 while I was in law school. And by invoking “law school” I mean to evoke volumes upon volumes of required readings. Thanks to the advent of pdfs, custom courseware, online versions of journals and searchable online databases of cases, much of this documentation is in pdf form. The iPad purchase meant that I wasn’t stuck with the laptop and the restrictions that arose from having to sit in a laptop-friendly position for hours and hours at a time.
And Goodreader meant that in addition to just getting through the readings, I was also able to highlight, annotate and mark up those pdfs like nobody’s business, then export those annotations and highlighted excerpts into an email with two clicks–excerpts all ready to be cited when the time came to draw on useful quotes for term papers and essays. The excerpted highlights and annotations even feature the file name at the top of the excerpt and the page number from the file, listed above each quote (of course, this page number wasn’t necessarily useful for citations because it is the page # in the pdf file not the journal–often those are quite different–but it makes the quotes easy to look up in the file, in order to find the actual page numbers when the time came for the hell that is citations). The other caveat of course is that the easy-excerpting of highlighted text only works on OCR pdfs–not on ones that are image only. BUT, even with those, it’s easy to add in annotations, summarizing points made in the article and other useful observations, and those are exportable.
I cannot tell you how much time this has saved me over the years. I used GoodReader when I was doing my first read of the Bar exam materials. I’ve used it to proofread the novels that I’ve published these past couple of years, as well as to make notes about the novels of people in my critique groups. I continue to use it to read cases and articles, as part of the legal research I do at work.
GoodReader has been indispensable for all of this. I have loved it, and it has saved me hours upon hours of time, as well as many cricks in my neck and stiff shoulders.
The only thing that would make it even more amazing would be if you could tag any highlights or annotations based on user-defined topics, then have the option of compiling the highlighting and annotation by tags or groups of tags. And to be honest, it’s possible that one of the new updates adds that feature and I just haven’t had a chance to explore and discover it.
And that’s just the amazingly awesome, powerful and flexible annotation, highlighting features in the app.
Reading Musical Notation
My husband is a professional musician, and GoodReader is his go-to app as well for reading pdfs of sheet music. He has told me on more than one occasion that though he has a number of pdf readers that are supposedly designed for musicians to use at gigs, he keeps coming back to GoodReader, thanks to its easy, intuitive interface that allows him to define, for instance, whether he wants a single or two page display, to select whether he wants the display to begin with odd or even pages, and to make quick notations in rehearsal.
Other Fantastic Functions
Of course the OCR documents are also searchable. You can do dictionary, Google and Wikipedia lookups. You can, of course, add bookmarks and take advantage of other standard features such as viewing single or two page layouts and so on. There is also the option for making freehand notations on the files, if you’re a stylus user.
And if you want to force yourself to bustle through a text, there is also a re-flow option for OCR pdfs. In the re-flowed mode, you can set the text to scroll and adjust the speed of the scrolling. I found this feature helpful when I had reached that point of over-saturation, such that I found myself reading the same line over and over. Eschewing the annotation/highlighting option (you have to go back to the actual pdf, rather than the reflow in order to do either of those), I would set each page to scroll through the text. This would force me to skim and got me through many a long reading session when I needed to plough through the material and wanted at least a general idea of what it dealt with.
Pdfs are easily imported into the app–any pdfs opened in emails and on Dropbox generally feature the “open in…” menu option. GoodReader is always on the list that pops up. In addtion, If you’re as big a Dropbox user as I am, you’ll be happy to learn that GoodReader plays very well with it. You can open pdfs in the Dropbox app, and use the “open in…” option to select GoodReader, or you can go into GoodReader itself, sign into DropBox from there and pull the files in that way. It’s an easy setup, and the advantage of this method, of course, is that you can also upload the annotated files to DropBox once you’re done with it, for use on your other devices. Both the download and the upload are painless and quick (though the latter depends, of course, on the file size).
Goodreader also has an option to flatten annotations. In that case, it leaves the little annotation bubble where you made the comment, but inserts the text of all the annotations at the end file, by way of end notes.
And for those of you who need to share files, it’s also worth knowing that Adobe reads the highlights and the annotations (unflattened), so I’ve also been able to send the pdfs I’ve marked up to those not fortunate enough to have GoodReader. This is often how I’ve sent my comments to my critique group, as well as to editors and writers for projects I’ve worked on as an editor or when I’ve done layout–there has never been a problem, so long as the other person has a computer loaded with Acrobat.
There are numerous other features in GoodReader that I could rave about–and in all honesty, I don’t know if there are newer, better readers out there because frankly, GoodReader has pretty much all the features I’ve needed, so I haven’t had any inclination to spend the time searching further afield.
Bottom line: I cannot say enough positive things about this app–worth every penny (and indeed, in retrospect, knowing how invaluable it has been to me, I would have paid more). It has saved me a good deal of time and a lot of hair-pulling through the years, thanks to its easy, but feature-rich interface. I’ve also found it to be a stable app–I can’t remember the last time it crashed on me, even through 1000+ page documents (yay bar exam materials!). Highly recommended if you have to spend a lot of time reading pdfs!