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Good Luck Getting Annotations To Stick With GoodReader [Review]

by on October 2nd, 2010

The GoodReader PDF app recently got a huge update with the introduction of annotations arguably the most interesting of the changes (check out the long list on the developer’s website).

The new annotations function works beautifully and intuitively (once you understand that you annotate by pressing and holding the screen).

I had lots of fun marking up and adding notes (sad, I know) but felt totally cheated when I tried to open my annotated document. I tried opening it in iBooks, SmartNote, DocsToGo, from an email attachment… You name it, it didn’t work. Open it in the GoodReader app: hello lovely annotations. Anywhere else? Don’t hold your breath.

I’ve read a couple of forums and some folks are getting results with Preview in Mac (I haven’t tried it myself, so can’t confirm or refute).

(10/5/10 Edit. The annotations can be seen in Preview, Skim and Adobe Acrobat Reader on the Mac and in Adobe Acrobat Reader on the PC. Hopefully some of the PDF apps on the iPad itself will soon be able to see these annotations).

Don’t get me wrong. GoodReader is a fantastic app for reading large PDFs on your iPad and iPhone, especially for (the current sale price of) $0.99.

But the annotations function is pretty half-baked if you can’t see the annotations anywhere other than in the app itself. Let’s hope they get
that sorted soon.

Let us know below if you have been able to get your annotations to stick.

Danielle Saul is a technical writer and all round geeky chick. You can follow her on Twitter at @GeekyCh1ck

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Posted under: Reviews

  • Anonymous

    I’d say a somewhat poor review of an app that is quintessential to the world of iDevice. Perhaps a different view of it (good app, here’s what it does, and this, and this too, but one point to work on is:) would have been more appropriate.

  • Anonymous

    Hey @dash8311. Thanks for the feedback but I think you’re maybe missing the point?

    GoodReader has been around for a long time. There are plenty of reviews on the app as a whole. It’s a great app (as I point out in the post).

    However, this was a ‘first reaction’ to a function I (along with many others) have been waiting for since it was first released. I thought I’d be able to use it right ‘out the box’ to do some PDF marking up for (my real) work but was disappointed. I wanted to make sure others didn’t have similarly high hopes at this early stage.

    Cheers 🙂

  • bobbd

    Let’s be fair here. First off, I can confirm that the annotations do appear in Preview on the Mac. And they also appear in Acrobat Reader in Windows. But they don’t appear in iBooks, DocsToGo, or in Mail. So I ran some tests. I shipped a test PDF off to Windows and opened it in Acrobat Pro. Annotations and highlights were present. Then I highlighted a different section in Acrobat Pro as well as modifying the note I wrote in GoodReader. I then mailed the revised PDF to my iPhone.

    Guess what? Mail didn’t show the highlight that I added in Acrobat Pro. Neither did iBooks. But GoodReader did. Showed both the new highlight and the revised note.

    This tells me that probably the others aren’t set up to look for annotations, notes, highlights, etc.

    So to my mind, GoodReader is working perfectly. I mean you’ve got to figure that Acrobat Pro and Acrobat Reader would be the gold standards.

    Please revise the review to be fair. It’s actually those other Apps that are at fault, not GoodReader.


  • Actually, Goodreader just released an update for annotations. Others have had issues with the missing option.

  • Anonymous

    Bob – thanks for your input but I think it would be ‘unfair’ to change the review as it was my “first impression” – and I can’t change that!

    I use Skim on my Mac and can confirm it works on that – I’ve added that to the review.

  • bobbd

    As a followup I tested again with iAnnotate and iRead PDF. Both of these will read GoodReader’s annotations and GoodReader will read iAnnotate’s annotations. But iAnnotate’s annotations do not appear in Mail or any other reader that uses the iPhone’s built-in PDF reader. I conclude that iAnnotate and GoodReader use the Adobe Acrobat standard and that Apple hasn’t added annotation support to iOS yet.

    So let’s point the finger where it should be pointed please.


  • Wasgo

    I think you’re missing the point. People are saying you shouldn’t blame GoodReader for adding support for a feature that other applications aren’t supporting. It isn’t something they can fix and your article, first impression or not, is overly critical. It’s not a ‘half-baked’ implementation, they’re using the PDF standard for annotations.

  • Captorian

    Gotta say I’m with Bob on this one.

  • Mike

    Agree with the other commentators. If Apple is not able to implement state of the art PDF technology into their mail-software, that is not the fault of GoodReader. Their app is amazing and working as advised. The review suggests the app was the one to blame.

    What I would like to know is, how do I get annotations etc into GoodReader? I use Skim on the mac and when I add annotations and the like to a pdf, save and reopen they are all there. But when I send that PDF to GoodReader I can’t see all this info. Can someone help me with this?

  • Mike

    Choose File -> Export… -> PDF With Embedded Notes and you should be able to see the notes in other PDF readers. This is documented in the manual (http://skim-app.sourceforge.net/manual/SkimHelp_46.html#SEC120)