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In the past, I have not shied away from expressing my love for the PDF format PDF - The World's Digital Document [INFOGRAPHIC] PDF - The World's Digital Document [INFOGRAPHIC] I absolutely love PDF files as they are very practical. They're easy to read, you can encrypt them, sign them, split, rotate and watermark them, merge them, and navigating a PDF is effortless. In fact,... Read More . There isn’t a more robust way of sharing documents – send to anyone, open anywhere with a huge range of software. Unfortunately, this introduces difficulty when it comes to editing them.

For example, if I need to sign a PDF document, how do I do it without ripping out the little hair I have left on my head? Ideally I’d like to do this on my iPad, and while Dropbox doesn’t do a bad job of opening and presenting them on a tablet, I’ve been looking for something a little more… robust?

So when I was introduced to PDF Expert 5 by Denys Zhadanov, I was blown away at how easy the app is to use. Granted, it’s not cheap ($9.99), but if you are the kind of person who regularly views and would like to edit PDF files on an iPad, then this is most definitely an app for you.

Connecting The Cloud Storage Services

When you open PDF Expert up for the first time the first thing to do is connect your cloud services of choice, preferably where you store all of your PDF files. Most major sharing services are there (Dropbox, Google Drive, and Skydrive) and a few others which are just as good (SugarSync and Box). It is also possible to connect directly to FTP, SFTP and locally to a Windows SMB share too.

Tap on the ones you want, enter your credentials, and authorize PDF Expert 5 to access your files. You can revoke this access at any time by signing into the relevant cloud service and deleting the permission from the relevant page. When you have successfully connected an account, it will show up in the left-hand sidebar under Accounts. Tapping on one will then display the contents of that account.

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Open PDF Expert Via Email

Another way to open a PDF file with PDF Expert 5 is directly from your email inbox.  Just tap on the PDF attachment and select PDF Expert 5 as the app to open it.

Then the file will open in the app appear in the main page as a thumbnail.

Tap on the document you want opened and all of the pages will appear as thumbnails on the screen. Tap the page you want to read and it will appear full-size on the screen.

Signatures

Let’s start look at the feature I am most pumped about – signing documents. Right now, I am going through a huge period of reorganization in my life, and some long term decisions have required the signing of legal documents. Since we live in the 21st century, those documents have arrived via email, in the form of a PDF. And the email is always says the same – sign the relevant pages and send them back to us.

Then I look at my printer/scanner, suffocated under the huge pile of books and paper, and I suddenly feel deflated. The thought of digging the machine out, printing the page out, signing it, scanning it, converting back to PDF, emailing… there has to be an easier way, right?  Yes there is. PDF Expert makes it a lot easier.

Once you have the page you need to sign open, look on the left-hand side and you will see your editing tools. Cast your eye to the bottom of that bar and you will see a pen icon. Tap on that and it will bring up a blank screen for you to write your signature.

I used my finger to make my signature, but if you have a stylus pen, then all the better. Keep in mind that this signature will be shrunk down to a very small size. So although it looks a bit ugly and clunky at this resolution, once it gets shrunk down, it actually looks quite good as you will see below.

Sign the screen, tap Save, and then when you are taken back to the document, tap and hold where you want the signature to go.

You can drag the blue lines to position and scale the signature where you want it to go. Play around with it until you get it exactly the way you want it. If you totally mess it up, there is an undo button at the bottom of the left-hand toolbar, or shake-to-undo also works.

Text

Sometimes handwriting is not good enough and it will become necessary to type in your PDF documents. Using the example above, I also need to insert the date. Rather than make a mess with my bad handwriting, it’s easier just to type it in.

In the left-hand toolbar, choose the T symbol (for text), tap where you want the text to go, and start typing. You can also choose the colour of the text. For some reason, red seems to be the default, so choose black from the selection. It goes better with the signature, don’t you think?

Stamps & More

If you are the boss of a company who gets sent lots of PDF documents to review, maybe you need some form of a stamp to say it has been read and approved?  That’s where the variety of stamps come in. As before, choose your stamp, then use the blue lines and blue circles to reposition and resize the stamp.

Choosing the highlighter will enable you to run your finger or stylus across words to be highlighted.

Maybe underlining is your gig?  Change colours, and run your finger across the relevant words to see them underlined.

If you are working your way through a list, striking out the ones that have been done is a huge help. As with underlining, choose your ink colour, then run your finger through the relevant words to see them struck out.

While reviewing a document, you may have a stray thought in your head that you don’t want to lose. That’s where the notes function becomes useful. A yellow note will appear on the screen where you can type whatever you want.

You can see many of these features in action thanks to the video embedded below.

The Bottom Line

There’s more to this amazing app than we can fit into this post, making it perfect for PDF addicts and professionals alike. Download the app, put it through its paces, and let me know what I’ve missed.

Download: PDF Expert 5 ($9.99)

Do you have any other favourite PDF tools? Let us know in the comments, below.

  1. jasonh@auamed.net
    February 7, 2016 at 5:32 am

    A quick question, how would you prevent the file go back to the first page after you close a document. For example, I was reading on pag 115 and I close the PDF to search on Safari and then go back to the file, the file always show 1st page! Is it anyway to prevent this? thanx in advance

    • Mark O'Neill
      February 7, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      I'm sorry but I haven't used this app in 2 years! So I can't remember how it all works. The best thing to do would be to pose your question to the developers. Their website link is usually on the App Store download page.

  2. David Arildsen
    December 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    just got PDF expert for my new iPad. I use it for my work on another iPad and I can send a 8 page PDF document with pictures on it and the file is 7MB big. The new iPad with the new software is sending the PDF Document out at 50MB and my server and no server will let that pass for an email size. I also can't see why it is doing this. Can someone help me with what and why this is happening and how do i fix this so i can share my work on the new iPad.

  3. Gabe
    March 8, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    just bought PDF Expert 5 and downloaded it to my iPad 4th generation. Signed in to my google drive account. The account is on the left side bar. The downloaded file appears on the documents section. It appears in the list when I tap my account. It is there when I tap network. But still, I cannot open it. PLEASE help!

  4. Marc
    April 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Mark,
    Good work .

    I have a question about How the Ipad talks to PDF Expert. I have been using it for a few months now and was just wondering if there was a way to set up PDF Expert as the default program when opening a PDF file instead of having to select it from a list every single time.

    On a PC you can set up programs as default (IE for example) is it possible to do the same on an Apple Air?

  5. R
    February 7, 2014 at 7:08 am

    OK, I want to give my two cents.

    I use my iPad mainly to read Documents and I can say that PDF expert is for me the best PDF app in the app store.

    I agree with other comments that Foxit is a great free app for most common task such annotations, bookmarks, signs and the night mode is great because images keep their original colors (not like others apps).

    Back to PDF Expert 5 I find useful the next features that are not mentioned in the article or in the video:

    - Text to Speak (Available only in iOS 7), it is VERY useful if you're doing something else because you don't have to focus on the PDF

    - Search content in many PDF files. You can look for something in all your PDFs

    - Crop Mode, Automatically detects the margins for the PDF you want to read and crops the margins, so you only see the content in the display.

    - Sepia theme, This is a really great feature because you can read for hours. In my experience I found the night mode a little annoying because it is black background with white font and that's not so good to read for most than an hour. I couldn't find a PDF app that have the sepia theme (Except kobo App, but you can't take notes in the PDF). If you don't have flux, this is something you should consider if you're going to spend time reading PDFs (ePubs are completely different).

    - The rest of the main features are on the video (Preview mode is awesome, although I don't use it on a daily basis)

    - Support, you can send an email to the developer and report something or just to know if there's gonna be a feature in a future update and you're going to get a real answer.

    TL;DR If you only want a PDF reader with basic features, use foxit. If you're going to spend a lot of time reading in your iPad or need advance options like forms or edit PDF content, you should buy PDF reader

  6. James B
    January 16, 2014 at 9:25 am

    You have a curious excitement for signing PDFs. That feature is built into OSX, so I can't quite relate. ;p

  7. Rigoberto G
    January 15, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Great article Mark. Thanks

  8. zach
    January 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Have u evr tested foxit?though i did nt test inandroid so far ,at least in windows it has ability to modify a pdf

    • Justin P
      January 16, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Looks like there is a free FoxIt for iPad, and we haven't reviewed it yet. Interesting...

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