Hunt for the best PDF organizing/annotating app

macbook123

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Feb 11, 2006
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Over the last couple of days I tried Papers and PDF Expert on my iPad and iPad Pro, I have issues with both.

With Papers, my main issues are:
-- one can't erase (partial) annotations. E.g., when I write a large formula or drawing and screw up midway through, there's no way to erase part of what I wrote. I have to erase everything and start over. That's really annoying.
-- one can't view a PDF annotated in this app with any other app, because it's hideously buried and spread out over multiple sudirectories of the "papers" directory.
-- one can't click hyperlinks ,i.e., navigate to webpages shown in an PDF. WTF.
-- The "Undo" and "Redo" buttons don't work.

PDF Expert addresses most of these issues (and btw there is now an OS X app, but it costs extra $'s), but one problem at least with the iPad Pro is that it doesn't support muti-page view. The iPP is perfect for viewing two pages of a PDF document at once. PDF Expert is therefore suboptimal for the IPP (each book page is way too big).

Any other apps people can recommend?
 

NDM2015

macrumors newbie
Nov 3, 2014
29
10
Notability is the best out there. This app changed my workflow (for the best.) 100% like if you had paper in your hand. No fla fla, only right to the point naviguation.

On top of that, it supports Ipad pro, mulititasking and apple pencil.

Don't look further.
 
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lax28

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2014
268
145
New Jersey
I've had Notability for a long time, but didn't use it too often, however since getting the iPP it has become my go to app. It works great with the apple pencil, and imports/exports with dropbox flawlessly. I mostly use for annotating pdf documents. I have previously been a fan of one note for note taking, but it hasn't been updated yet for iPP.
 
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sliderbot

macrumors newbie
Aug 19, 2015
9
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I've been using GoodReader. It was updated for iPad pro and has an option to use the pencil. Fast and easy to use. I use it to show PDF's on a projector and it has a lot of tools to make that easy as well.
 

Kristine

macrumors 6502a
Feb 21, 2005
586
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I like GoodReader, but recently started using Notability. Both apps are good.
 

friedmud

macrumors 65816
Jul 11, 2008
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Don't use Papers... it's terrible and has been for a long time. They refuse to do anything about it.

My favorite PDF annotation app is still iAnnotate. The main reason is how well it integrates with Dropbox (you can annotate documents tired directly on Dropbox) and the fact that it produces "real" PDF annotations that can be read/modified by any other PDF application (like Preview on OSX).

However, iAnnotate hasn't yet been updated for the iPP, which is a major bummer.

For the iPP I can recommend Notability. It is good.

Goodnotes is very similar to Notability, but has a few other nice features, like being able to search your handwritten notes. I also like that when you're using the Apple Pencil with Goodnotes or completely ignores your fingers/hands. Not just palm rejection.... it straight up won't make any marks at all with your fingers which is awesome. My only hang up with Goodnotes so far is that it doesn't use a "continuous scroll" between pages... but maybe I just haven't found that option yet.

I used Notability for the last month of classes for taking notes on my iPP... but I think that next semester I'm going to try out Goodnotes instead.

Others:

  • Notes Plus is trash (no proper Apple Pencil support)
  • LiquidText is cool... but it's not really a note taking/annotation app... more for reading and researching
  • Paper By 53 is a no go for PDF annotation
[doublepost=1451982237,1451982164][/doublepost]Oh, one more thing: both Notability and Goodnotes have Desktop (OSX) apps that sync over iCloud with the iPad app. I've only tried Notability's app so far... but it works well.
 
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marcip3

macrumors newbie
Feb 6, 2008
27
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I've been using GoodReader. It was updated for iPad pro and has an option to use the pencil. Fast and easy to use. I use it to show PDF's on a projector and it has a lot of tools to make that easy as well.
it was updated? when?
 
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username:

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2013
705
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PDF Expert addresses most of these issues (and btw there is now an OS X app, but it costs extra $'s), but one problem at least with the iPad Pro is that it doesn't support muti-page view. The iPP is perfect for viewing two pages of a PDF document at once. PDF Expert is therefore suboptimal for the IPP (each book page is way too big).

Any other apps people can recommend?
I never noticed that about PDF Expert! That should totally be an option! It is the best app for PDFs. But yeah they need multi page view for sure. Sorry I can't help, but just wanted to say thanks for pointing out that detail.
 
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lexvo

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Nov 11, 2009
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GoodReader and Goodnotes don't have continuous vertical scroll. For me, that is a big disadvantage.

PDF Expert and Notability both have continuous vertical scroll. Notability added functionality for PDF annotating in the last version, so now it is closer to PDF Expert for this. IMO, PDF Expert is still king if you want extensive PDF annotating.

PDF Expert has a very good build in file manager too. It can connect to a lot of cloud services as well as FTP and WebDav services.
 
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friedmud

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Jul 11, 2008
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GoodReader and Goodnotes don't have continuous vertical scroll. For me, that is a big disadvantage.

PDF Expert and Notability both have continuous vertical scroll. Notability added functionality for PDF annotating in the last version, so now it is closer to PDF Expert for this. IMO, PDF Expert is still king if you want extensive PDF annotating.

PDF Expert has a very good build in file manager too. It can connect to a lot of cloud services as well as FTP and WebDav services.
My big issue with PDF Expert is that it doesn't utilize the Apple Pencil properly. It obviously isn't using true Apple Pencil support. Input is laggy and not precise (like using a "dumb" stylus). It also can't be put into a mode where it only accepts input from the Pencil.

At this point I can't recommend PDF Expert for iPad Pro users with Apple Pencils.

BTW: Just today I marked up a colleague's research paper using Goodnotes on my iPP with Apple Pencil. It worked pretty well... but I do miss continuous scroll from Notability. Maybe I will just stick with Notability after all ;-)
 
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Loge

macrumors 68030
Jun 24, 2004
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My current thoughts:

Goodreader: Waiting for iPP support. Currently does not optimally support the resolution of the device so the text is slightly fuzzy. Also waiting on split screen multitasking.
Does have great cropping tool (though less important on iPP as it's large enough for most PDFs), and 2 page landscape view.

PDF Expert: Supports the iPP screen res and has split screen multi-tasking. Not tried using the pencil with this. Main problem with this app for me is that on certain large PDFs it seems to "forget" its location and always goes back to the start. Sometimes its difficult to select the navigator button for moving quickly through the document.

Goodnotes: Excellent for making notes, very good fit with the pencil. Not so good at navigating PDFs at the other two.
 
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macbook123

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Original poster
Feb 11, 2006
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Do either PDFexpert or Notability have the ability to edit files directly on Dropbox (so that one doesn't need to export back to Dropbox every time one is done annotating a file)? This functionality is important for me. Thanks.
 

friedmud

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Jul 11, 2008
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(Update: I was wrong about PDF Expert... It CAN sync with Dropbox!!)

Do either PDFexpert or Notability have the ability to edit files directly on Dropbox (so that one doesn't need to export back to Dropbox every time one is done annotating a file)? This functionality is important for me. Thanks.
Nope. Neither do. One of the reasons I still use iAnnotatePDF even though it hasn't been updated for the iPP...
[doublepost=1453580084][/doublepost]I should mention that I'm still doing most of my PDF marking in Notability these days. I just live with the Dropbox limitations...
 
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lexvo

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Nov 11, 2009
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Do either PDFexpert or Notability have the ability to edit files directly on Dropbox (so that one doesn't need to export back to Dropbox every time one is done annotating a file)? This functionality is important for me. Thanks.
PDF Expert can sync with Dropbox, so that changes you make are automatically synced to Dropbox.
 

friedmud

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Jul 11, 2008
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PDF Expert can sync with Dropbox, so that changes you make are automatically synced to Dropbox.
How?

As far as I can tell, it only syncs to iCloud. If I open a document from Dropbox it downloads it locally. Any changes that are made to it are not synced. The only way to get it back to Dropbox is to re-upload it.

iAnnotate does this properly... you can open a file right from Dropbox... add annotations and press the "sync" button at the top to update the file on Dropbox. Works seamlessly.
 

lexvo

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How?

As far as I can tell, it only syncs to iCloud. If I open a document from Dropbox it downloads it locally. Any changes that are made to it are not synced. The only way to get it back to Dropbox is to re-upload it.

iAnnotate does this properly... you can open a file right from Dropbox... add annotations and press the "sync" button at the top to update the file on Dropbox. Works seamlessly.
From PDF Expert open Dropbox and choose a directory. Then tab on the "Sync" button (upper right).
When you have set it up, the directory you chose is now in the Documents folder. When you change documents in this directory, they will be synced to Dropbox.
 
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friedmud

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From PDF Expert open Dropbox and choose a directory. Then tab on the "Sync" button (upper right).
When you have set it up, the directory you chose is now in the Documents folder. When you change documents in this directory, they will be synced to Dropbox.
Awesome! Thanks! That helps me a TON!
 

macbook123

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Original poster
Feb 11, 2006
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Cool, thanks! But PDF expert does NOT support multi-page view, right? This would be handy on the iPad Pro, where two pages can be easily looked at at once. Thanks.
 

friedmud

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Jul 11, 2008
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Cool, thanks! But PDF expert does NOT support multi-page view, right? This would be handy on the iPad Pro, where two pages can be easily looked at at once. Thanks.
Indeed - it doesn't even support continuous scrolling... both of those features would be killer.
 

GerritV

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May 11, 2012
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Indeed - it doesn't even support continuous scrolling... both of those features would be killer.
Click the "AA" button at the top center.: you can choose Horizontal or Vertical scroll.
The latter is continuous.
 

lexvo

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Nov 11, 2009
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Gerrit is right: PDF Expert has continuous scrolling.

I think PDF Expert is one of the best apps for PDF annotating AND file management including connecting to a large number of file services (DopBox, WebDav, (S)FTP, SMB, Box, Google Drive, ...)

If you don't want to spend the money on PDF Expert then Notability is a good alternative, especially since their last update where new PDF annotating functions were added (still not as many as PDF Expert has).

Another good alternative might be Goodreader: it has (almost) all the annotating and file management functions of PDF Expert, but it does not have continuous scroll. But if I remember correctly it has a two page view.
 

GerritV

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May 11, 2012
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From PDF Expert open Dropbox and choose a directory. Then tab on the "Sync" button (upper right).
When you have set it up, the directory you chose is now in the Documents folder. When you change documents in this directory, they will be synced to Dropbox.
Again a great tip lexvo, thanks. How do I "unsync"?
 

lexvo

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Nov 11, 2009
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Again a great tip lexvo, thanks. How do I "unsync"?
Unsync is a bit hidden, I always have to look again how to do it :)
1) in the Documents folder, set the view mode to filenames (instead of icons), you can do this by pulling the screen a bit down and tap the filenames icon on the upper right side
2) swipe over the directory you want to unsync, some buttons appear so you can stop syncing or delete the directory alltogether (the directory and its files will be kept on Dropbox of course)