Best Tips for Using the iBooks as a PDF Reader on Your iPad or iPhone

ibookslogo   Best Tips for Using the iBooks as a PDF Reader on Your iPad or iPhoneThere are a plenty of apps for reading PDFs and e-books on portable Apple devices, but if you’re looking to streamline applications on your iPad or iPhone, the latest version of Apple”˜s iBooks (iTunes Store link) app serves as both an e-book and PDF reader.

This free application doesn’t outshine many of the popular PDF readers in the app store, but what it lacks in features is makes up by its visual appeal and ease of use.

User Interface

The user interface of the iBooks includes a library for downloaded e-books, from Apple’s iBook store, and right beside the Books button is the library for PDFs.

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PDFs can be viewed in two different ways: cover view and list view. If you have a growing PDF library, these two views are great for accessing your collection. In the list view, you can filter books by Titles, Authors, and Categories.

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Navigating PDFs

The features for reading and navigating PDFs in iBooks are both similar and unique to reading e-books. Tapping pages on the left or right side of screen, as usual, “turns the pages”. Users can navigate PDF pages by using the scroll bar of thumbnail pages that appear at the bottom of the screen. However, the thumbnails are so small that they’re almost useless in this regard. The two other methods for navigating pages are better.

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Tapping the pages button on the upper-left of the screen is the best way to get a thumbnail view of all the pages. On the right side of the iPad screen, tapping the list button will of course, give you the table of contents view of a PDF. In both views you can navigate to specific pages.

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Bookmarking and Searching

The bookmarking feature is visually appealing. You can tap the bookmark icon on the upper-right of the application to bookmark a page.

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When you want to view all your bookmarked pages, tap the pages button on the upper-left side and then tap the bookmark icon again. It’s a little tricky at first, but it delivers up a nice thumbnail collection of all your bookmarked pages.

And of course you can search a PDF by clicking on the magnifying glass icon. However, in my tests, the search process is a little slower than with other PDF apps I”˜ve used.

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Importing PDFs

The biggest challenge with Apple”˜s iPad and iPhone is actually importing images and documents into the devices. Apple doesn’t make that process very easy. Apple wants you to import documents via the iTunes application, which means making a wired connection.

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To do this, you drop PDFs into your iTunes library as you do music files. They can then be found in the Books library of the iTunes sidebar. If it’s not there, open iTunes Preference, select General, and click the box next to Books.  When you connect your iPad or iPhone to iTunes, you have the option of selecting which PDFs and e-books you want synced to your device.

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Wireless Connections

Personally, I prefer to import PDFs wirelessly via my Dropbox account. I drop all downloaded PDFs into specified folder on my account. When I open the Dropbox app on my iPhone and iPad, I can select the folder and it gives me the option to import the document to iBooks or similar applications. For more information about using PDFs and other documents with the iPad, see this article.

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PDFs can also be accessed via email, but they cannot be download via Apple”˜s Safari app.

Although it has great visual interface appeal, iBooks is not the perfect solution for PDF storage and reading on Apple”˜s mobile devices. For example, the annotation tools you use for highlighting and making notes with e-books are not available for PDFs. And though you can dim the LCD screen from within the app, you can’t enlarge the font size of PDF documents in the reader.

Despite these limitations, it’s helpful that users can access their e-books and PDFs in one application.

Let us know what you think about iBooks as a PDF reader.

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10 Comments -

0 votes

Yauch

Is there any good way to edit PDFs on the iPad?

0 votes

Michael

Depends on what you mean by edit. iAnnotate lets you markup including highlighting, scrawling written notes and enter typed text. The really neat thing (for me) is that when you email the article to yourself, it can send you a summary of your markup — including all the text from the original that you highlighted.

However, its not designed to actually edit the text in the pdf and change it.

0 votes

Michael

I should have noted, that iAnnotate is $10, but well worth it in my opinion.

0 votes

Bakari

Totally agree; iAnnotate is the BEST for what it does. I now use it to read all my PDFs on my iPad. But I assume Yauch is asking if a PDF can be converted on the iPad so that it is editable?

0 votes

Bakari

No, I don’t think so at this point.

0 votes

Bakari

No, I don’t think so at this point.

0 votes

Michael

Depends on what you mean by edit. iAnnotate lets you markup including highlighting, scrawling written notes and enter typed text. The really neat thing (for me) is that when you email the article to yourself, it can send you a summary of your markup — including all the text from the original that you highlighted.

However, its not designed to actually edit the text in the pdf and change it.