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Popular PDF reader and annotation app GoodReader recently reached version 4.0 of the now universal app for the iPad and iPhone. GoodReader has been called the Swiss Army knife for reading, marking up, and managing PDFs.

We reviewed the previous iPhone version of GoodReader How To Turn Your iPhone Into A PDF Reader & Text Document Viewer How To Turn Your iPhone Into A PDF Reader & Text Document Viewer Read More , and highlighted its jump to iOS 7 GoodReader Gets Long-Awaited iOS 7 Update, Including New Audio Player GoodReader Gets Long-Awaited iOS 7 Update, Including New Audio Player A long-awaited iOS 7 update of the GoodReader PDF reader was recently released with a revamped user interface, faster PDF rendering, a new auto player, several improvements for managing documents, and support for iWork 2013... Read More , but the latest version is a new app ($6.99, universal) and includes all the features of the original GoodReader, in addition to a new document management features, a refined user interface, and a handy collapsible tool area on the main screen.

But is GoodReader 4 worth the upgrade price? Let’s see!

Importing Documents

GoodReader provides several options for importing PDFs, including cloud-based providers like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and SugarSync. Documents can also be downloaded from the app’s in-built web browser, iTunes file sharing, a local Wi-Fi/Bonjour connection on your Mac, or via a special mobile Safari link, which requires you add the letter “g” directly before the URL of a downloaded PDF (there’s an in-built manual for exact instructions.)

GoodReader connection

The Manage Files section of the app allows you to tap and view recently read or added documents, and organize files into folders.

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A useful GoodReader feature gives you the option to save annotations you make to either the original file or to an annotated copy of that file. Annotations made in a PDF are permanent and will appear in the original or the annotated copy of the file.

GoodReader file options

The page layout for PDFs in GoodReader allows for reading documents in vertical or horizontal view, and as single or double pages. There’s also an experimental read-only view, which strips away images in a document and allows users to choose the font style and size of the document. This feature includes an automatic scroller, but it didn’t seem to work too smoothly in my tests.

For imported PDFs that have a wide margin, GoodReader actually includes a crop tool that hides extra page layout space in a document. Users can select to apply the crop to odd and even pages.

GoodReader crop

Other features in the toolbar include individual and whole document page previews (a new feature in GoodReads 4), whole document search, full screen viewing, lock orientation, and a button for sharing selected pages or annotations via email or directly to a printer.

GoodReader toolbar

Another significant new features of GoodReader actually enables individual pages to be moved around, deleted, rotated, and shared in a document, and you can even add blank pages to documents, useful for notes and drawings.

GoodReader pages 2

And perhaps the most useful toolbar feature is the pop-up view of bookmarked pages, annotations, and the document’s table of contents, if it has one. It would be great if ebook readers like the Kindle app iOS Kindle 3.6 Now Includes Multicolor Highlights & Other Nifty Features iOS Kindle 3.6 Now Includes Multicolor Highlights & Other Nifty Features As I'm an avid user of the Kindle app for the iPad and the iPhone, I eagerly look forward to version updates. I've been using the app ever since its initial release back in 2009,... Read More had this same type convenient access at the bottom of its reader, instead of being tucked away in a menu at the top.

GoodReader outlines

Making Annotations

The new version of GoodReader includes a collapsible menu of annotation tools for highlighting text, bookmarking pages, typing inline or sticky notes, and adding drawings (including boxes, arrows, and rubber stamps.) You can also long-press selected text to activate the same menu of annotation items. Tap again on a highlight to bring up other options for changing the color, copying the selection, or deleting the annotation.

GoodReader annotations

If you have a lot of annotations to make, tap on an annotation tool in the side menu before making a selection. This will open the quick single tap tool at the top of the app, which allows you to navigate pages and apply annotations without first having to tap and bring up the menu each time.

GoodReader single annotation

You can pin the side menu of tool to remain open as you read and annotate, or you can have it hide automatically. Tapping anywhere on a page will quickly bring it back.

Worth Upgrade

Some users of the original GoodReader app may feel as though the additions to GoodReader 4 are not significant enough for a purchase upgrade, and they would probably be correct. On the other hand, GoodReader has been a stable and leading app for heavy PDF readers, and so the upgrade helps support the work of the developers and the continued development of the app – which is arguably one of the best in class.

GoodReader compares favourably with other PDF reader apps like iAnnotate, and the annotation-focused MarginNote MarginNote Offers Unique Approach To Annotating & Reviewing Documents MarginNote Offers Unique Approach To Annotating & Reviewing Documents MarginNote provides a unique way to view a document and your notes at the same time. Read More . The app provides more tools, and it seems to be easier to navigate documents and apply annotations compared with other PDF reader apps. As ever, which app is better depends on your needs as a user.

Download: GoodReader 4 ($6.99)

Let us know what you think of GoodReader and how useful it is for your reading and studying workflow.

  1. mike
    July 3, 2014 at 9:58 am

    My vote is for files-finder edition as I consider this complete file manager. Its features are awesome that make it different from other productivity apps. It has browser so navigation of files is easy to manage. Searching and sorting option are wide so that files can be searched via tags, files size, file name, file type and date of creation. I think you should consider files-finder edition once.

  2. David
    June 2, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I'm not a fan of Goodreader. It was my first PDF reader on iPad, purchased on the recommendation of various internet sites. It worked decently, but seemed very buggy. Under iOS 6 some pages would occasionally be skipped over, requiring me to swipe back and forth to reload them. Even worse, this wasn't always apparent until I tried to highlight; the highlighting would appear strange, because it was highlighting text from another page - but it wasn't actually displaying that page. The final straw came with iOS 7, where the app had major issues. An update was taking too long.

    I switched over to Documents (made by Readdle). It has many, many strengths compared to Goodreader. It's free, for one. The interface is superior, in my opinion. And while it seems to cater to PDFs (and includes most, if not all, of the annotation features that Goodreader has), Documents is a general file system manager and can handle a wide array of files, including video. It has become one of my top three most-used applications. And I'll say again, it's free. If Readdle charged for it, I'd gladly pay. It's so incredibly useful.

    The reason why I checked out this article wasn't to shill for Readdle, but because I was curious about a feature comparison: search speed. Documents version 4 used to be pretty fast, but version 5 slowed down the search somewhat. I don't remember how version 4 compared to the older version of Goodreader. Bakari, if you have the time and are up for it, I'd be very interested in seeing a comparison between the two.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      David, I've heard about Documents and definitely need to check it out. For a long time I used iAnnotate, but its highlights tool takes three taps to apply. Thanks for letting us know about Documents.

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