GoodReader for iPad: View, Download & Share Files

GoodReader has earned a lot of praise online and in the App Store for being a superb PDF reader, showing the high demand for this kind of functionality on both the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch. It was one of the first file management apps for the iPad, and connects to a huge range of different servers and devices.

As this review is going to show, GoodReader’s capabilities are not limited to just viewing PDF’s, but a large number of file types including audio and even video.

Getting Your Files Into GoodReader

Once installed, GoodReader presents itself in a split pane view, both in landscape and portrait mode. The left pane shows your folders (yes, you can have folders!) and files, while the right pane offers you an overview of certain actions you can take concerning file download and file management.

The Main View

The Main View

By far the most interesting functionality – and I think the main selling point of GoodReader – is its ability to snatch your files from a large number of online services, including Wi-Fi, MobileMe iDisk, Dropbox, Google Docs, FTP servers or even simply through an URL. The setup of the individual services is very simple – if you’ve managed to create a Dropbox account or if you set up an FTP server, connecting to it via GoodReader will pose no challenge.

As you can see, there are quite a number of places where you can get your files from:

Connection Options

Connection Options

Downloading Files

Downloading Files

Above and beyond that, you can download files through the in-built browser and transfer them via Wi-Fi.

Download via Browser

Download via Browser

By default, all files are being put into your Home directory, so to speak. Recently downloaded and not yet opened files are shown in blue and if you have trouble finding a file, you can either search for it or just tap it in the Recent Downloads tab and it’s being highlighted on the left.

Wi-Fi Transfer

If you need to organize a large number of files, the Wi-Fi transfer mode is really helpful. Simply tap the Wi-Fi icon on the iPad, and use one of the presented methods to connect to it from your computer.

Wi-Fi Transfer Mode

Wi-Fi Transfer Mode

Even though you can’t pick multiple files at once, you can easily create folders and upload files into them.

Considering the data transfer speed, the Wi-Fi option is very comfortable to use when handling larger files – especially if you want to sort them properly into folders right away, because by default all files you download via the iPad interface are put into the home directory.

Managing Files

Even with the option to somewhat manage your files through the Wi-Fi interface, the iPad interface itself is pretty amazing as well. By selecting the tab Manage Files on the right and then picking a file on the left, you are presented with a multitude of options.

Managing Files

Managing Files

Especially noteworthy is the ability to upload files to any place that you can connect to. Simply cut or copy the file in question on your iPad, then go to your Dropbox, your iDisk or your FTP server and paste the file there. Easy, comfortable, and incredibly useful if you just need to make a file accessible to someone and can’t mail it for whatever reason (file size etc.).

Handling files

This couldn’t be easier. Simply select the file you want to view and – if it’s a text document, PDF or similar, a reader will show up. This is where the praised PDF readibility comes into play. GoodReader renders PDFs quite clearly and even if you enlarge/zoom them (double-tap), the text will stay crisp and sharp.

Something that needs getting used to are the so-called tap-zones. Tapping the bottom or the top makes the page scroll (smoothly!) when it’s zoomed in. But what if you want to bring up the menu again or perform other actions? The help provides an answer to those questions.

Tap Zones

Tap Zones

Other functionality is often discovered by reading the manual on GoodReader’s website or by pure accident: for example, when you’ve zoomed into a PDF document, for example a street map, a single tap with two fingers anywhere in the screen will zoom out again. Neat, but far from obvious.

Additionaly, there are of course the options to set bookmarks, search for specific text or phrases or even go to a certain page.

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Search

Search

Jump to Page

Jump to Page

A somewhat experimental feature strips your PDF files of everything but the text and makes it readable as a plain text file. While it does work, it ignored a lot of the other formatting as well – paragraphs and such – so I am not sure if it’s useful in its current state.

Non-PDF files

As mentioned in the introduction, GoodReader does more than its name implies. It not only allows you to read files like PDF documents, but it also allows you to look into many other file types, for example Microsoft Office and iWork files, normal .txt files, images or music files (tested with .mp3).

Excel Support

Excel Support

It’s nice to see that the developer implemented the fly-out method for many actions. You are not yanked out of the app or the screen you’re in when listening to an audio file or sending an email, which makes using the app even more pleasurable.

Enjoying an Audio File

Enjoying an Audio File

Verdict

For its price, GoodReader brings quite a lot of value to the iPad. It’s a universal file viewer with the option to grab those files from a large number of different places, rename them, manage them, email them and upload them to almost any place you can connect to.

The ability to open large PDF documents and work with them comfortably is worth the one dollar the app currently sells for. Add to it all the other possibilities on offer, and GoodReader should not be missing from your iPad.


Summary

GoodReader makes it easy to read and view a wide range of different files on your iPad. You can download them directly from your Mac or PC, or connect to a wide range of different servers and sharing services.

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