PDF Annotating and Note Taking Apps: HELP!

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by HardHatMac9, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. HardHatMac9 macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2004
    Hi All -

    I did a pretty through search through the Forums, but I'm still stuck...

    I'm looking for a great PDF reader that also allows me to highlight and annotate (write on) PDFs on my iPad 2 (for work and personal use). I remember seeing a PDF reader/annotation App that allowed writing in a "close-up" box at the bottom of the screen which would place whatever was written on the selected portion of the PDF. I can't seem to find this iPad App. Please help! Any other suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm also looking for a solid note taking app that works well with a stylus and occasional keyboard use. I'd appreciate any leads.

    Thank you in advance!!!! :D
  2. thompson11 macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    For PDFs, Zen Viewer HD is getting some good reviews.
  3. HardHatMac9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2004
    Thanks for the tip. Zen viewer doesn't seem to allow any sort of annotating or highlighting on PDFs though.
  4. colmaclean macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    GoodReader offers pretty good annotation support - type, freehand and various shapes.
  5. HardHatMac9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2004
    Does it have at zoomed-in box at the bottom that allows you to write larger (neater) but have it appear smaller on the document?
  6. Rigby macrumors 601

    Aug 5, 2008
    San Jose, CA
    Notetaker HD can annotate PDFs and has a zoom box for handwriting input. I'm not sure if it qualifies as a "great PDF reader" though.
  7. dstar macrumors regular

    May 3, 2010
    iAnnotate is probably the best for marking up PDF files.
  8. ksmith80209 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    I've been really impressed with PDF Expert so far. I find the UI to be far more intuitive/usable than GoodReader with a very similar feature set. Plus — it's got this great "signature" feature where you can sign documents very elegantly.
  9. Readdlemate Suspended


    Jan 26, 2009
    Above that, PDF Expert for iPad is the only app which allows you to fill and submit PDF Forms (even with calculations and flatten). It also has Recent feature, to make your navigation as easy as possible. Annotating capabilities are easy and fast.

    Here is the latest review of PDF Expert for iPad by TUAW: http://www.tuaw.com/2011/03/22/pdf-expert-for-ipad-offers-cloud-storage-editing-more/

    AppStore link: http://itunes.apple.com/app/pdf-expert-fill-forms-annotate/id393316844?mt=8

    We will be glad to hear more feedback and suggestions from you.
  10. HardHatMac9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2004
    GoodReader has been a winner and although it doesn't have a zoomed in writing function, I find the "typewriter" function and annotating options sufficient. I haven't been that impressed with Note Taker HD, mostly because I think it has a poor layout, but it seems to be the best (hand written) note taking app. Penultimate has the smoothest way of entering data (i.e., smooth lines, etc.)
  11. Ruffian829 macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2008
    Try notability. It's all freehand annotation for highlight/underline, but you can write freehand on the PDF (with zoom box) or you can also type on the PDF (like GoodReaders typewriter.
    Also a great freehand and typing note taking app (switch between the two on the same page/note etc)

    I really think it would fulfill all your needs. I've almost stopped using goodreader at this point except Notability cannot import Word/Pages docs so I still use GoodReader to read those.
  12. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I vote iAnnotate and PDF Expert. Both are really good annotation apps.

    ETA: sorry, realised too late that this thread is one year old...
  13. danderton macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2010
  14. jent macrumors 6502a


    Mar 31, 2010
    I use iAnnotate PDF and really like it. Bonus points to anyone who can tell me how to (if at all) sync my PDFs annotated with iAnnotate PDF via Dropbox or iCloud.
  15. palpatine, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012

    palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    Personally, I see notetaking and PDF annotation as two different activities.

    For handwritten notes, I think Note Taker HD is far superior to other ones on the market (for various reasons), but regarding the op's point about the interface, if you value function over form, then this is the one for you :) Of course, you can import PDFs and annotate them, but I don't do it much.

    For reading and annotating (typewritten--great if you have an external keyboard) I think iAnnotate is superior. Faster rendering times and arguably the most functionality out there. PDF Expert is excellent (as mentioned above, it is great for forms -- I find it great for commenting on papers, because it remembers my settings). Goodreader is a fine product as well. But, iAnnotate is my first choice.

    Dropbox in iAnnotate? Go to the Library, select "Connectivity" and set it up. You can download everything, or select files to sync. This is where GoodReader outshines the others: it does the syncing effortlessly, and as far as I know, it is the only one that will sync with iCloud. iAnnotate will not (for example) allow you to add a PDF from another folder into your Dropbox folder. This can be annoying on occasion, and requires you to open the PDF in Dropbox, move it to the appropriate synced folder, then download it into iAnnotate.
  16. David Menzel macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2012
    It was the only sync solution with iCloud!
  17. EmpyreanUK macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2011
    Does it no longer sync with iCloud, or are there now others?
  18. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    Hi. Right. I forgot about that. I think someone on the forums here mentioned that GoodReader dropped this support for new users, but has kept it for us old ones. Obviously, I am unable to confirm with my version. Maybe someone can find this spelled out on the web? Their appstore page just doesn't mention icloud.

    EDIT: I just checked and cannot find the icon. I never synced with iCloud, and it has been a long time since I have used GoodReader regularly, so maybe it is just hidden away somewhere. I think I still could sync if I was willing to fiddle with it more.
  19. David Menzel macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2012
    Here you go! Goodware's customer service sent me the following information:

    "Thank you for your email to GoodReader Support.

    We were forced to remove the iCloud feature for legal reasons. To avoid the experience of "loosing the existing feature" for existing customers, we were able to keep it for those who already used it before and is upgrading from an earler version of the app. Unfortunately, this feature will be unavailable for new customers who just bought the app and does a fresh app installation (and therefore never used this feature before). We are currently evaluating the possibility of bringing this feature back in the nearest future. We apologize for the inconvenience."

    See also: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1352946
  20. Ruffian829 macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2008
    I have tried both Notetaker HD and Notability (and pen ultimate, noteshelf, etc) and still fine notability to be the best by far. Easily integrates writing and typing, full bullet points, notebook organization, I use it for PDF annotation that is relative to my class work (like if I want to take handwritten notes on a document for class vs typing up separate notes) and otherwise I use goodreader just because I always have and it works great so I never tried iAnnotate although I heard good things about it. There was never something goodreader didn't do that I felt the need to buy another app for but I was super happy when notability allowed for PDF import and freehand annotation.
    I've had several people approach me about using my iPad in class and I've told them all to get notability and they all love it. Before I got my iPad I could find one other person using it for class and he used Notetaker HD so that was the first thing I looked at but quickly switched to Notability. Mainly because I want something to primarily type notes with (external keyboard) BUT with the option to handwrite when needed- Notetaker HD seemed primarily handwritten notes.
  21. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    note taker hd works fine for typing as well, as i recall, and does fine with pdfs. it gives you far more control over your handwriting, in my opinion, but they are bothe good apps. notability's popularity is probably due at least in part to its low price. for .99 it is difficult to find anything as full of features in any category.
  22. aCuria, Apr 7, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    aCuria macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2011

    I tried out notability after reading this... big mistake - it lags horribly when theres nothing on the page, and if you put any kind of picture on it, it gets worse.

    Notability 4.2 is also useless for reading pdfs, nevermind annotating. - My Pdf's are high resolution scans (~3000x2000) and they take forever to render. Whenever I scroll to another page, we are talking 8-9s of render time before I can see the whole page. (I used a stopwatch). Worse still, if you zoom in at all, we are talking another 8-9s. ibooks is MUCH better

    Screenshot of the jaggy handwriting render:


    Notability 4.3 has been released

    1) Everything is nice and sharp now, thanks to the retina update
    2) Typing is now much much faster, no more issues with that
    3) Image performance is much improved, the app does not lag to hell, but it seems like this is done by reducing the resolution of the input images.

    Problems (that were not improved)
    1) PDF viewing performance is still ****, takes forever to render
    2) Zooming in is still really slow, ~2-3s lag time before the app is responsive again
    3) If you rest your hand on the screen, you will get ink marks. The guard only helps if you write above the area where your palm is rested, which doesnt really happen for me.Furthermore it flashes to a grey color when doing this, which is really distracting
    4) Moving a picture around causes the screen to flash (and re-render?) all the images on the screen
  23. kooskoos1814 macrumors member

    Apr 6, 2012
    Same problem here, I'm looking for an app that can read and annotate pdf documents (handwriting if needed but basicaly typing) and I've seen Goodreader and Notability.
    The later is really cheap (1 CHF) and Goodreader is 5 CHF.

    Could someone give some advice from Goodreader vs Notability please ?
  24. DrMotownMac macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2008
    Notability ROCKS!

    I have both, and I never use Goodreader since Notability seems to do everything Goodreader can do, and then some. Furthermore, Notability just submitted their most recent update (version 4.3) to the App Store yesterday (according to their blog: Ginger Labs Blog), and it supports the retina display on the new iPad and it has text box support which was notably absent from the previous version.

    In addition to being a great PDF annotator and note taker, Notability actually has an audio recording feature, so you can record audio while simultaneously taking notes. All of this for 99 cents??? Pretty amazing. The only thing missing is handwriting recognition, but I expect to see this by version 5.0.
  25. epicmar macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2008
    Northern Florida
    Sorry this reply is not timely, but GoodReader does have a zoomed in handwriting function. Just tap on the freehand tool (the squiggly line icon). It actually has pretty good inking, auto line advance, and auto line feed.

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