Q: I travel a lot and work with a lot of PDF files. Can you recommend a PDF editing app for my iPad? — Lee
A: This question was answered on October 12, 2012. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
The breadth of productivity apps for the iPad continues to improve its ability to do the work of a traditional laptop, making it more of a ‘go-to’ device especially when you are travelling.
Depending upon the level of editing that you require, I have a couple of recommendations.
If your editing needs are simple, you may be able to use the free Adobe Reader app that works on iPads, iPhones and the iPod Touch ( http://goo.gl/3pFJ5 ).
It’s capable of doing simple annotations such as highlight, strikethrough and underline as well as basic mark up using the freehand drawing tool.
You can add comments to any section of the PDF with sticky notes and you can add text to forms with the Typewriter tool.
You can also fill out forms, add digital signatures and e-mail the PDFs right from within the app. This latest version is even capable of filling in form fields that have validation, calculations and formatting.
Another great feature is the ‘Ink Signature’ tool that allows you to sign any document using your finger and there is support for a multitude of languages.
One of the areas that Adobe Reader is lacking in is the integration with the multitude of file syncing services such as DropBox and SugarSync or private FTP servers.
It can only work with other apps and services that support the ‘Open In’ feature built-into iOS devices.
If you want a more robust PDF editing app that’s also fairly intuitive yet easy to use, you can’t do much better than Readdle’s PDF Expert ($9.99 http://goo.gl/iVC93 ).
It has superior file management capabilities for those that work with lots of documents and the thumbnail file view can save you lots of time when you are searching for a specific document.
It has all of the form filling and signature capabilities that Adobe Reader has but when it comes to drawing options, it’s far superior.
You can draw boxes, circles, lines and arrows as well as add stamps or images to any part of the document.
When you press and hold on any part of the PDF, you can insert a note, text, stamp, image or signature in a snap.
You can also easily add audio notes or your corporate logo and it supports the playing of embedded video.
When you press on a signature field, you are presented with two options: My Signature or Customer Signature. This allows you to insert your own stored signature or have someone use their finger to sign the PDF which you can then easily resize to make it fit into the form field properly.
PDF Expert really excels in the area of file syncing with direct support for DropBox, Microsoft’s SkyDrive or any WebDAV server.
You can also download and upload files directly from an FTP server, Google Docs, Box, SugerSync and MobileMe accounts and store up to 512Mb of your files for free on Readdle’s Storage servers if you don’t already have cloud storage account setup.
If you’re not sure if you’ll need all of the additional power that PDF Expert offers, start by using the free Adobe Reader until you run into a problem that PDF Expert solves!