iPad has changed the way I do everything digitally. The way that I interact with devices, read, write, organize, and get things done. It is engrained into my life and I wouldn’t want to go back to the way I was before without it.

One of the apps that have slowly creeped their way into my life is GoodReader for iPad. GoodReader is an app that allows you to read, manage, organize, access, and annotate just about any file that you would want to. It was released as primarily a PDF reader / “annotater” at first, but now hos taken on a life of its own with ways to download files, sync with Dropbox, create, edit, and manage annotations on PDFs, and much more.

Here are a few ways that I use GoodReader to get things done.

Syncing documents with Dropbox

This is what I use GoodReader for the most and without it, my PDF reading / annotating on iPad wouldn’t exist. This feature allows you to sync an entire directory of documents from your Dropbox folder and with a decent WiFi or 3G connection you can keep documents and PDFs in sync with all of your other Dropbox enabled devices.

I have an extensive collection of technical PDFs that I use for reference as well as to learn new languages and technologies that I keep synced between a Dropbox folders and GoodReader on my iPad. I can then make annotations, create new bookmarks, and search these documents on iPad. Any changes I make can be easily synced back to Dropbox.

Where this workflow gets very interesting (and possibly dangerous) is if you have a shared folder in your Dropbox that many people are using a well as synced to GoodReader with your annotations and changes. In my very limited experience with this, having multiple accessors of a single document or folder and those documents syncing with GoodReader seems to work but I have a feeling that it wouldn’t if there were multiple editors of the same document.

Better (paperless) meetings and discussions

One of my issues to resolve this year is to make my life more paperless. GoodReader helps with this.

Instead of printing out email and agendas for meetings I can create a PDF copy, upload it to Dropbox, email it to myself, or even sync it manually through iTunes. I can then open all documents that I need for the meeting or discussion and use GoodReader’s tabbed interface to view each document when I need it. And, of course, I can make a new annotated copy or annotate the document directly and sync it back Dropbox.

I can see this process is going to save paper (and headaches from missing notes) this year.

Signatures

One of the quickest ways that I have found to sign a digital document is with GoodReader. Yes, I do use PDFpenPro on my Mac, but if I have access to a PDF on iPad that needs signed, I open it in GoodReader, use the freehand drawing tool with my handy stylus (oh, the horror!), zoom in, sign it, save it, and load it up to Dropbox or email it to whomever I need.

Showing things off

The first rule of doing any type of freelance work is too assume that everything will go wrong. I remember about a year ago I was going to show off an interface design to someone and how it would work. I asked them beforehand if they WiFi there I could use. “Of course they did.”

As I got there, took out my laptop, and then quickly realized that there was no WiFi connection, I was out of luck and couldn’t show anything. Of course, no one that knows the freelancing game would do this; they would always have a backup.

When I am showing off a design or interface to someone I am working with, I take images of them on my Mac or PC, create PDFs, load them to Dropbox, and bring them down to GoodReader. I even go as far as including hyperlinks on interface buttons in the PDFs that will link to the next screen of the interface to show off the flow of the system.

Accessing Documents from (almost) anywhere

One of the greatest things that I enjoy and use with GoodReader is its excellent file access options. You can always sync a folder or document with Dropbox like I pointed out above, but you can also access documents from a ton of different places including mail servers and providers, your Google Docs account, box.net, a WebDAV server, and much more.

One of the things I love to do with GoodReader is access my Gmail account and see the entire list of attachements that have an @Action or Read/Review label. I can then quickly go through my list of attachements that need attention on my comfortable chair, leaned back, like Steve Jobs. Perfect.

 

I also offload most of my photos to box.net, mostly because of my huge, free 50GB account. I can then access these photos from GoodReader and through email or Apple’s Document Interchange, do just about anything with them.

Conclusion

As you can see, GoodReader for iPad is in my “top iPad app list” and made its way to my list of best productivity apps for iPad. With its outrageously small price tag of $4.99, you may be slightly insane for not using it for all of your document reading and handling needs on iPad.

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