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, and highlighted its jump to iOS 7, 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!
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.)
The Manage Files section of the app allows you to tap and view recently read or added documents, and organize files into folders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 had this same type convenient access at the bottom of its reader, instead of being tucked away in a menu at the top.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.