Tue
Sep 15 2009 1:36pm
GoodReader: Huge advance in PDF handling on iPhone

Short and to the point: GoodReader is a really significant advance in the state of the art for PDF reading on mobile devices. It loads just one page at a time, which means that it no longer matters how big the overall file is.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “So what’s the big deal?” you have probably not tried reading a large PDF on an iPhone/iPod Touch, or PSP or anything else of the sort. If you have tried it, then you’ve seen how truly awful it can get, with files making the machine slower and slower and slower, and finally simply not working. There are a lot of book-length PDFs I’ve been wanting to look at on my iPod Touch, and couldn’t.

Until now.

It’s a $4.99 app (on sale for $0.99 at the moment, but I am unsure how long that sale will last), available from the iTunes store, and there’s a handy link to that along with more information here at the publisher’s site. It’s ingenious: it can download files from the web, and transfer across a local wi-fi or Bonjour network, or set itself up as a network folder for very rapid copying from another machine. In addition, as the screen shot here suggests, it’ll let you organize transferred files into a folder arrangement of your choice.

Since I got it, I’ve been using it to read recently roleplaying game rulebooks in PDF form, and by golly, it works. The big ones are as easy to handle as the small ones, and standard iPhone OS pinching and zooming lets me sail around each page without much fuss.

I still don’t think that PDF as a format is anything like ideal for ebooks, but since it is in such widespread usage, may as well be able to read it easily, right? Right!


Bruce Baugh spends a lot of time lugging around more books than he ever dreamed possible without ever even sweating, and really likes this whole e-book thing.

6 comments
Rajan Khanna
1. rajanyk
Thanks for this. I've recently been trying to read a PDF ebook on my phone through Docs to Go, only it's a pain to load up and it doesn't remember where I am and every time I go in I have to scroll back to where I was when I last exited.

This looks much better and is well worth giving a try for $0.99 (which it was a minute ago).

I'll report back on my experience with the actual document.
robgonzo
2. robgonzo
I read a lot on my iphone, so I may give this a shot; but, so far Stanza works the best for PDF novels.
Chris Meadows
3. Robotech_Master
OK, I went out and bought it (you can do so here (will launch iTunes)) and have played around with it a little. On the whole, I'm pretty impressed. It's certainly a lot better at viewing huge PDFs than Air Sharing or iSilo.
Bruce Baugh
4. BruceB
Robgonzo: Stanza is my tool of choice, but it doesn't handle much in the way of layout formatting. That's where GoodReader comes into play.
Mary O'Dea
5. thorn
i've had this app for a couple of months. i paid 4.99 for it, and have found that it's worth the five bucks.

to use it, you do need to install a little free app on the machine you use to sync your device. that will allow you to move pdf documents to your iphone/pod touch; and itunes has to be running while you use it. it allows you to create folders.

the user interface for navigating loaded documents is pretty cool and fairly intuitive.
Chris Meadows
6. Robotech_Master
Thorn, you don't have to do that. If you have Bonjour installed, you can mount it as a network hard drive in "My Network Places" (for Windows, or whatever equivalent Mac uses) and drag and drop files over wifi. Or you can download PDFs directly from the web into it.

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