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  • Back to School App Spotlight: PDF Expert

    Posted on Nathan Parker Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems macOS Back to School App Spotlight: PDF Expert

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        Nathan Parker

        Welcome to another Back to School App Spotlight. This week I want to feature an app I use heavily in school (and it’s also great for everyday use and business use): PDF Expert.

        Macs come with Preview, a built-in PDF and image viewer. There are even some basic annotation features in Preview. While Adobe Pro is a powerful option for PDF editing on the Mac, it can be overkill for some users, and there are some who simply don’t want to be tied to an Adobe subscription.

        On the Mac, PDF Expert is an excellent option. It has a simple, easy-to-use interface with plenty of power, and currently, no subscription required (it’s $79.99 for most users or $39.99 for students. It does have a companion app for iOS (iPhone and iPad), although the one drawback with the latest version is while the app’s basic functionality is free, it now requires $50/year for a subscription for the Pro features (although any features included in the previous version remain for those who purchased the app before the new version). I wish this is one area where Readdle would offer two different forms of in-app purchases: a one-time purchase to unlock all the features of the current version (currently version 7) as well as the Pro subscription for those who wish to subscribe.

        Overview of PDF Expert for Mac

        PDF Expert for Mac has a clean, easy-to-use interface that beautifully displays PDF’s, as well as offers powerful features for those needing more than what’s included with Preview. Searching long documents is speedy, re-arranging, combining, or removing pages from PDF’s is a breeze. Powerful annotation and editing tools are a click away. It also syncs beautifully with iCloud and its companion iOS app. PDF Expert offers just about everything I’d need out of a PDF editor, without the cost or subscription of Adobe Pro, and in a fresher interface. The only feature missing that I could benefit from is the ability to convert PDF files to text files (such as Word), and Readdle is working on the feature in a future update (and since Adobe has butchered conversion of some PDF files with complex fonts when I’ve used it in the past, I’m fine with Readdle taking their time in hopes they’ll release a conversion feature that is better than what Adobe offers).

        Overview of PDF Expert for iOS

        PDF Expert also runs well on iOS (both iPhone and iPad). It has a clean interface that is familiar to PDF Expert on the Mac, with similar features to PDF Expert on the Mac. Annotations and editing work flawlessly, and PDF Expert also works great with Apple Pencil. The latest update now runs on Metal for a faster and even more fluid experience. It syncs perfectly with iCloud with PDF Expert for Mac, and it also supports third-party cloud services and even custom web servers. Everything is pretty much perfect with it except I wish Readdle would bring back a standalone cost for the Pro features on a per-version basis instead of using only a Pro subscription for them.

        How I use PDF Expert for School

        I am constantly needing to work with PDF’s for school. In my PhD program, I need to keep track of my comprehensive bibliography reading and my reading and research seminar schedules. I use PDF Expert to annotate the PDF’s to track my progress. I also use PDF Expert to merge PDF’s together, edit PDF’s when I export papers to PDF and need to perform some post-PDF cleanup, and well as leverage iCloud syncing to ensure my PDF’s are across all of my devices and available no matter what device I’m working on or where I go. It is an excellent tool in my toolbox, with more power than Preview and easier to use and more cost-effective over Adobe Pro. Once PDF conversion to text files (such as Word documents) is added, that’ll be a huge benefit for me to bring documents into Nota Bene (my academic word processor) when I need to manipulate the text inside Nota Bene (even though Orbis+ can index and search PDF’s).

        Bottom Line

        PDF Expert is simple, easy-to-use. fast, fluid, beautiful, and powerful for editing PDF’s. It offers more power than Preview in faster and more beautiful interface over Adobe. The cost for PDF Expert for Mac is reasonable, especially for education users. PDF Expert also syncs well with iCloud and its companion iOS app, which is faster and more beautiful than ever. While it is great that the iOS app now offers some functionality for free, I hope that Readdle will include a per-version one-time purchase option for Pro features for new customers so new customers can own the Pro features without being locked into a Pro subscription, as the subscription-free aspect of PDF Expert was a huge selling point that helped pit it against Adobe Pro. Other than that and a couple of remaining feature additions such as PDF conversion to text documents (such as Word documents), PDF Expert is a fantastic option for Mac and iOS users needing PDF editing, and it is ideal for students to add to their toolbox.

        Nathan Parker

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