iPad App Review : PDF Notes

PDF Notes is one of my favourite app on the iPad.  It is one of the most useful app I have.  Essentially, I use it to read pdf documents, e.g. eBooks and workbooks.  This app basically allows you to write on any pdf document.  You can take notes, write, and highlight on the pdf document.

What Do I Use it For and Why I Love it

1. For the kids to do worksheets/past years papers.

You know how much ink and paper printing of worksheets uses and how much space all the papers take up.  I am just so glad for this app because I can save on paper, ink and space!  You know how we kiasu Singaporean parents will buy past year exam papers of the various schools to let our kids practise doing?  If you have seen those stacks of exam papers on sale, have bought them before, you would know how much space those take up, and after doing the papers, if you have a younger child, you can’t reuse those papers (unless you use pencil and take the time and effort to erase everything). You would have to buy a new set when the times comes.  You would know how expensive one set of those papers cost.  If you can find free downloads of those exam papers or any worksheets, you still have to spend on ink and paper to print them out.

Imagine now you can scan the papers into pdf documents and let your kids do them on the iPad via this handy little app.  You can even mark the papers in red ink.  When you are done with this, you can simply erase everything (just a ‘clear all’ function) and the paper can be used again and again and again.  How cool is that?

If writing with the finger is a bit difficult, you can get a iPad stylus at very low cost from bookshops or computer accessories shops.  Although most of them seem to have thick tip right now,  I have seen advertisements for the fine tip ones too (which means they are easier to use, just like a normal pen or stylus).

2. eBook version of Textbooks and Workbooks

I use some eBooks for teaching my kids and these books are not cheap if I were to order hardcopies.  They also take up quite a bit of space.  After spending a small fortune on them, and after discovering this app, I bought eBook version for all my subsequent purchases.  eBook version tends to be cheaper than hardcopies and I don’t have to pay for expensive shipping either.  They also don’t take up any shelf space at home.  I can write in them, annotate, and highlight on these books just like real books.  For workbooks, the kids can simply write in them straight using this app.

3. Easy eBook Reading

Some free/paid eBooks on the internet are in the pdf format and it is easier to read them on the iPad than on the Macbook.  Even though, unlike workbooks and textbooks, I don’t have to write in them, I still need something to read them with.  On the iPad, there is an app that comes with the iPad which you can use for reading pdf documents.  It is called the iBook.  Although I use the iBook app as well, I just find that it is easier to use just one app instead of two.  Since Pdf Notes allow me to annotate, I tend to just use this app for everything.

Pdf Notes can be linked to your Dropbox Account if you have one.  You should get one if you don’t already have one.  It is a very useful service and it is free.  Sign up for an account here.  Anyway, if you have a Dropbox Account, all you have to do is to save your pdf documents into your Dropbox Account, link your account to your Pdf Notes app through a few simple steps in the app, and you can start pulling the pdf documents from your Dropbox account to your iPad wirelessly.

Technically, you can import documents via email, Safari and iTune as well.  But I have been using only the Dropbox way because it is so convenient!

4. Use it for Scores

The iPad is great for music scores and since the softcopies are usually in pdf format, this app comes in handy for reading them on the iPad.  I usually dislike loose sheets of music scores because if I put them in clear folder, it is difficult to make notes on them as I have to take the paper out of the pockets.  Sometimes, the plastic pockets reflect the glare from the lights and make it difficult to read the score.  If I don’t put them in a clear folder, they are hard to handle on the piano and have the tendency to slide off or get blown off.  If there are many pages, it is even harder to manage because you can’t spread them all out and have to flip them.  Anyway, it is just a messy business.

Now, I simply load them into my iPad and read using the Pdf Note.  To flip a page, I simple swipe my finger across the iPad.  Not messy at all!  No papers flying everywhere.  I absolutely love it.

There are special apps just for reading Music Scores.  Those are useful if they are linked to music sheet stores.  Still, like I mentioned earlier, I find it easier to just use one app instead of having many different ones.

 5. Share, Save and Print

You can share the pdf documents in various formats, e.g. original unannotated pdf, annotated pdf, etc, through email and you can save and back up as well.  If that is not enough, you can even send the file to iTunes. If you have a printer that supports printing directly from the iPad, you can also print the documents.

6. Easy to Organise

If you have too many different documents on your Pdf Notes, you can organise them easily into categories.  If you are halfway through a document when you need to switch to another document, or close the app, have no fear.  When you re-open the document, it will open at the part where you quit so that you don’t have to scroll through and find your place again.

Incidentally, there is also a bookmark function, not so much for ‘recovery’ purpose but for you to mark pages when you have to keep going back and forth from one page to another.

7. It is Free!

Do I need to say more?  There is a paid version but the difference is really minimal.  The paid version has no advertisements, of course, but the advertisements are really small and not obtrusive anyway, so I am really not bothered by them.  The paid version also fully supports multi-tasking.  To be honest, I am not quite sure what that means.  All I can tell you is that the free version is more than enough and works just fine.

Note : Pdf Notes is also available in the Android version.


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