Friday January 18th 2019

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iPad: Document Reader apps

Right, here’s the second look at using the iPad in your knitterly or crocheterly life.

Now, let’s face it. For a stitcher, the important thing (if not the most important thing) is, how do I get my patterns onto the iPad, and how do I read them, and how good is it to use for reading patterns, really?

Very very first thing. As you have probably already heard the iPad is a fingerprint magnet. Yes indeed. You will have greasy looking fingerprints all over the place in a very short time, no matter how clean your hands are. There are two things to remember about this: a microfiber or other cloth (preferably the kind that you can get for cleaning glasses or camera lenses) is easy to tuck into the case or carry in your bag (and you will definitely want to do this), AND, when you turn on the screen, the prints pretty much disappear. I promise.

There are a few good document readers on the market at the moment, and you will want to look through what they can do.

But here’s the dirty little secret: just like with knitting needles, which app works the best for you is a highly individual thing. It’s like, some people love driving a Jaguar, and other people think a Jag is a total waste of space and money, as well as a good way to sprinkle oil over the roads as a public service, to keep the roads black. The problem is that you’re going to have to try them out to see if you get along with the interface.

Probably the four most popular readers on the app market right now are GoodReader, Air Sharing HD, ReadDLE, and PDF Reader. (Yes, I know there are others. If you love your PDF/document reader and I don’t have it listed here, feel free to comment about it below and tell us all about it!) There’s an excellent overview of all four readers at App Advice.

I have ReadDLE on my iPhone, and GoodReader on my iPad. There’s not a whole lot to choose between the two, and I personally have no preference of one over the other. (These are the only two I’ve personally used, so I can’t say too much about Air Sharing HD or PDF Reader.) They both can read multiple kinds of files besides just PDFs. They both allow you to wirelessly connect between your desktop computer and your iPad to easily get documents onto the iPad.

ReadDLE also offers the option of loading up files to their servers, where they give you a free account, which can be handy.

The interfaces are different, and you may find that you prefer one strongly over the other. My advice: try GoodReader first, because it’s only $0.99. ReadDLE is $4.99. $4.99 is not a whole lot to pay for a piece of software that works the way you want to work, but at least this way if you discover that you love GoodReader, you’ll have only paid $0.99…and if you discover that you don’t like GoodReader and need to try out ReadDLE, you’ll have spent a total of $5.98, which is, let’s face it, not a terribly large sum of money.

Two comments on Air Sharing and PDF Reader:

Air Sharing apparently makes it very easy to print documents directly from your iPad if you have a wireless printer. (As opposed to a printer on a shared wifi network.) you have a Mac OS X or Linux computer on your local network, with Printer Sharing turned on. It doesn’t talk directly to a wireless printer, according to Dave Howell of Avatron (who ought to know); thanks for the input, Dave!

PDF Reader only reads PDFs, where the others will read many, many other files. If you only ever plan to use it to read PDFs and you find you prefer the interface, it may do for you.

That said, here’s what knitting patterns look like on the iPad using GoodReader. (Click on each thumbnail to get a full sized version of the picture.)

The GoodReader interface

The GoodReader interface on the left. Note that you can easily set up folders, change the colors of the interface, etc. On the right, as all pictures do on the iPad, pattern pictures look fabulous! You can easily zoom in on details, too.

how big can you get the text?

How big can you get the text? Pretty darn big. This isn’t even as large as it goes. So if you’re tired of squinting at your pattern, working on an iPad will come as a huge plus for your tired eyes.

chart sample

Charts can be zoomed in on or rotated into landscape mode if it fits better. (This chart is Ice Queen from‘s 07 issue, by Rosemary Hill.)

Many apps that stitchers have used on their iPhones and iPod Touches have not released iPad versions yet. These apps may still be used on the iPad, but will appear at their normal size in the center of the screen. Down in the right hand corner, a “2x” button will enlarge the app up, but be warned it will be jaggy and maybe even a bit pixelated.

As an aside, I have yet to try iAnnotate. This PDF reader app (at a fairly hefty cost — for an app — of $9.99) apparently allows you to mark up a PDF, using a highlighter or other annotation, and then saves it as part of the PDF. I do plan on trying it, but it’s low on the list of priorities right now. Take a look and see if it’s something you want; one obvious application is marking the rows of a lace chart, or keeping track of where you are in your pattern.

Next week, I’ll talk about apps and work flows, especially using an iPhone or iPod Touch along with the iPad to make your stitching life just that much easier.

Reader Feedback

4 Responses to “iPad: Document Reader apps”

  1. Dave Howell says:

    Hi. Nice article. Small correction: Air Sharing HD lets you print if you have a Mac OS X or Linux computer on your local network, with Printer Sharing turned on. It doesn’t talk directly to a wireless printer.

    Dave Howell
    Avatron Software

  2. Dawne says:

    I was surprised yesterday with an iPad for my birthday. Your blog was the first place I went to read up on Apps! I have GoodReader & several patterns loaded already. I’m thnking about iAnnotate for later and ReadDLE but for now am very pleased with GoodReader. Thanks for sharing your research & trial and error with us; saved me lots of time.

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