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If you have amassed several hundred or thousands of PDF documents like I have, you probably have experienced the challenge of managing and accessing them in various folders on your computer. I used to dump all my PDFs into one folder, but I didn’t always find exactly what I was looking for when searching with Spotlight on a Mac. I’ve also downloaded PDFs and have forgotten that I saved them.

Since I have gone practically paperless in my day-to-day workflow, an application like PDF Stacks ($39.00) is one I should have started using a long time ago. This program does for PDFs what iTunes does for music files. It enables you to organize, read, print, search, and share your PDFs, and it alleviates the hassle of scattering PDFs throughout different folders. We’re giving away 25 copies of PDF Stacks for both PC and Mac. Find out how you can win one after the review.

Main Setup

PDF Stacks consists of a simple, straightforward user interface with only the most essential features you need for managing and reading your PDF documents.

PDFStack 1

After you install the program, you can enable it to locate and import all the PDFs it discovers on your computer. If it finds several thousand PDFs that you rather not take the time to filter out which ones you want to import, you can simply close the Import window, and use instead File > Import PDF Files… in the menubar. PDF Stacks copies imported PDFs into its own file directory/folder, which will automatically be added to your Documents folder.

PDFStack 2

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If you later decide to use the global import process, you can find that feature under Help > Getting Started…

PDF Stacks displays all your documents in its Library, and it includes copyright information (e.g. title, number of pages, author(s), year of publication, source) that it finds embedded within each document file. You can manually edit and add information for each file via the Inspector. This information is of course, searchable within the application.

PDFStack 4

What’s convenient about PDFStacks is that you can preview and open documents within the Library. You can read documents full-screen or in a separate tab, which alleviates desktop clutter. PDFStacks doesn’t include annotation tools, but it does contain a handy pop-up notebook which you can access in the Inspector or as a separate window while in full screen mode. A nice plus is that your notes are also searchable.

PSFStacks notes

Other Features

You can organize your imported PDFs into collections, based on topic, projects, author, etc.. If your library contains several hundred unorganized PDFs, you’ll probably want to use PDFStacks’s search and filter feature to assist you in locating PDFs to be placed in the proper collection. You can also right-click on the titles of individual files and add them to one or more collections, or to reveal them in the directory folder.

PSFStacks collections

If you’re using PDF Stacks for academic purposes, the application includes a feature for searching Google Scholar and PubMed. You can save the results of searches, and you can even match searches to existing PDFs. Search results will include the URL and other references for imported articles.

PDF Stacks runs on both PC and Mac, and you can download the fully functional trial version and use it for 15 days. A purchased full version of the $39 program never expires. We have 25 copies of PDF Stacks to give away this week, so join the contest to be in the running to win one.

How do I win a copy of PDF Stacks?

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. MakeUseOf giveaways are open to readers worldwide.

The giveaway code required to activate the form is available from our Facebook page, Twitter stream and Google+ page.

The giveaway is over. Here are the winners:
  • Abhi S
  • ahmad saeed
  • aldar sierra
  • Aleksey Borodyanskiy
  • Alizsa Franco
  • Catherine McCrum
  • chathura
  • Chris Knopff
  • David Bevington
  • Donald Baldwin
  • Dr Anthony Parsons
  • Geoff
  • hezi
  • Howard Gevertz
  • Jan Daniell Paragas
  • Jodi marciano
  • Michael Sidartawan
  • osama javaid
  • phillip ho
  • Richard Mcfarland
  • Rui Bidarra
  • Sandra Tolliver
  • Wade Potter
  • Will

Congratulations! If you were selected as a winner, you would have received your license via email from If you require any assistance, please get in touch with Associate Editor Jackson Chung before March 31. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Step 2: Share!

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post!

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(Note: no points will be awarded.)

By participating in this giveaway, you agree to the giveaway rules Official Giveaway Rules Official Giveaway Rules Read More .

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, March 1st. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

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  1. Soryna
    November 24, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Hello, I have experienced many problems with this program as many times it won't open or it opens after 10 minutes (in windows PC) and it asks me all the time for the licence key. I had to uninstall it and install it again and now I get an error message saying something about not finding the local key. Another thing is that I can see in the pdfstacks website that they have now the 2016 version available and I didn't receive any notification from them about it in my e-mail. I'm very disappointed as they say on their website that when someone buys their product receives unlimited licence and all the upgrades. I downloaded the free demo and I tried to activate it with my key and it didn't work. I still get the same error about the local key missing. I tried to send them an e-mail regarding this problem from the on-line form and it doesn't work either, it gets stuck in sending...

  2. Catherine M
    March 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for the win! Need to figure out best computer to put it on - laptop or desktop -

  3. RustyPolo
    March 21, 2013 at 8:21 am

    thanks for the info. but just looking at it in the finder is fairly easy for me too

  4. Ankit Sharma
    March 2, 2013 at 5:18 am

    I also feel is a better option. Also its free upto a limit.

  5. Chará Boulá
    March 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    How is it different from Mendelay which is free?
    Even if ih has a couple of features more (which so far I haven't spotted yet), is it worth paying $39? Definitely not.

    • Chará Boulá
      March 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      ***Mendeley (correction)

  6. John McKnight
    March 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I have been lookin for something like this to keep my archives somewhat organized.

  7. Mohammad Wasiullah
    March 1, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Thanks for giveaway count me in

  8. John Walker
    March 1, 2013 at 3:41 am

    Great program Hope I win...

  9. Crazie Flawed Narcissistic-VampDoll
    February 28, 2013 at 8:43 am

    DID I MAKE THE DEADLINE ???????????? arggghhhh

  10. James G
    February 28, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Yeah i need something to sort all my pdfs, I collect millions of books on pdf and read them on my phone, but there needs to be an easier way to combine them all and easily find exactly what Im looking for. Hok me Up

  11. Kathy Davis
    February 27, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Great stuff, would like to win it....

  12. snowd
    February 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Questions about PDFStacks

    Question 1: Will it allow me to use the arrow keys and / or mouse buttons to click through the pages of a pdf and then go on to the next pdf in the folder and do the same without having to stop and open each file? I have a project in which I update the collection with new pdf's interspersed among the old ones and would like to be able to just click through the pages of all the pdf's without having to stop and open up each one successively.

    Question 2: Does it OCR pdf's that don't already have that text layer on them, e.g. pdf's I have made with my flatbed scanner? I don't see that mentioned in your review.


    • Bakari Chavanu
      March 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Snowd, great questions. The application does have page turn arrows in the menubar, but appears that there's no keyboard shortcut to navigate pages. As for question 2, I can't verify the OCR import. I do believe you can download a trail version of the app and test it out.

  13. Mac Witty
    February 26, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Sounds a bit like iDocument for Mac. Nice and handy - but they copy everything into their database and if you have a lot of document in folders where they are related to other stuff you end up with 2 copies of everything. Not much of a problem when hard drives was were reasonable cheap but now with smaller SSD you will soon run out of space. Anyhow - if you have space or don't save things together then I think this is a good app

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Good points, Mac Witty. But I think I'd rather have it copy into one data base, because then the files are not scattered into different places.

  14. Yang Yang Li
    February 26, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I rename and individually file every PDF I have into subfolders I have created. Takes minimal effort and time to sort each PDF as you get them, saves me from spending much time searching for one. The Windows search function also works wonders. It's unbelievably thorough.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 26, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Yang, thanks for your feedback.

    • harley bellwood
      February 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      I do this as well & find it just as easy to file manuals, recipes etc. in their respective folders.

  15. az raja
    February 25, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Checked the web-site. Program has not been updated since 2011 ???

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