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July 25, 2007

The Endorsement


I've long been dissatisfied with Apple's Preview program, which is OS X's main software for reading and handling pdf files. It's got no highlighting feature, no integrated note-taking (you can leave stickies, but that's not the same), and generally offers just about no ability to manipulate or mark up the text. That said, I don't like Adobe's Acrobat either, which is too big, expensive, and slow for my purposes. Enter Skim, a freeware pdf viewer with absolutely terrific mark-up capabilities, You can highlight text, and the notation is saved to a sidebar listing all your highlights along with the first few words and the page number. You can leave various types of notes, circle areas to come back to, etc, etc. And it's all free, and elegant, and fast. Why Apple hasn't packaged something similarly powerful, I don't know. But for now, use Skim.

July 25, 2007 | Permalink


It probably just comes down to demand. I'm guessing, but many people are likely just viewing PDF's, and don't have much need to interact with the texts. In fact, Preview seems to have even fewer bells and whistles than Reader does, which makes it an even more appealing program. It does just what I need it to and I don't have to push aside extra unnecessary features.

Posted by: Trevor | Jul 25, 2007 1:48:05 PM

Being a PDF viewer at home, I love me my Preview. At work, those features would be key. Too bad I'm locked into my PC here.

Posted by: verplanck colvin, pe | Jul 25, 2007 2:38:50 PM

I believe Preview is meant to do just that, Preview documents. With the exception of cropping and rotating, I'm not sure there's much else you can do with ANY document in Preview. I just like it because it doesn't take 30 seconds to load like Adobe Reader does.

Posted by: Tom | Jul 25, 2007 3:36:40 PM

Probably because Apple is a feature-cutting simplicity slut. Or perhaps it has something to do with Adobe's PDF license restrictions.

Posted by: brian | Jul 25, 2007 4:04:01 PM

Preview also, um, previews images, with rudimentary editing capabilities, but it really is designed as a previewer, letting you do serious work appropriate to the file type in other apps. And Apple is presumably not too constrained by licensing, since it uses DisplayPDF.

(If you're on a PC, Foxit Reader is much sleeker than Adobe/Acrobat Reader. Not as full-featured, but most people really don't need that for PDF.)

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 25, 2007 7:31:00 PM

Anything like Skim for us PC users out there? I did a quick search but did not come up with anything.

Posted by: Chris | Jul 25, 2007 10:14:25 PM

I'll pile on with the rest of the commenters to say that Preview wasn't meant for interacting with pdf's as documents in their own right like Acrobat is; the idea was just to integrate document previewing system-wide. You can think of it as a precursor to the previewing ability that will be built into Leopard.

Having said that, I (tentatively) agree with you about Skim - it's great and beats the pants off of Acrobat for reading/marking-up purposes. I say tentatively because I used a fairly early version that despite its merits, was pretty unstable. That's been a while ago, and I'd imagine it's gotten much better in the mean time.

Posted by: cerebrocrat | Jul 26, 2007 9:46:21 AM

Umm, not to be a cranky witch, or some kind of knowitall, but the answer to the question of why there isn't a more feature packed version of Reader is because there is one; It's called Acrobat Standard, Pro and Premium or whatever they call it. You can have all the features you want, you just have to pay for them. Sorry, but there's no such thing as free lunch.

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