Quick Review: GoodReader document manager, viewer for iPad

GoodReader for iPad [on sale for $0.99 - iTunes store (opens in new tab)] is a gem of an app for anyone who wants to access and manage their documents on the go, especially large PDF files. It is upscaled from the iPhone version, but while the interface isn't radically different this is one case where bigger translates effectively into more and better.

The large iPad screen means you get to see your documents on the left and your panels -- Preview, Find Files, Manage Files, Web Downloads, Downloads in Progress, Recent Downloads, Connect to Servers -- on the right.

Tap on a document on the left, including those super-large PDF's and GoodReader brings it up full screen and in our experience, fast. Now navigating a PDF is a bit of a chore at this point due to the iPhone up/down paradigm being retained, but the developers are working on a better, more iPad-like page turning paradigm and we should see that in an update.

GoodReader can show pretty much any file type supported by iPhone OS, including images (JPG, PDF, GIF), Microsoft Office docs, Apple iWork docs, HTML, TXT, and all the sound and video you'd expect. It will even reflow PDFs for you if that's your thing. There's a search and a preview on the right side so it's easy to find the local file you're looking for.

Document management is powerful, even if the UI is... awkward. There's a strange assortment of little buttons, but they do wonderful things like protect/un-protect, star/un-star, mark as read/unread, zip/unzip (yes, ZIP!), copy, cut, emial, and more.

To get the files into GoodReader you can browse the web or enter a URL, connect to an online repository like iDisk, DropBox, Box.net, Google Docs, or any WebDAV, IMAP, or POP3 server. You can also connect to a local server and transfer files right over from your computer. GoodReader also supports Apple's USB file transfer via iTunes, and the latest version includes Document Sharing so you can open compatible docs in GoodReader from other apps (i.e. if you receive a PDF in iPad Mail, you can open it directly in GoodReader).

While the UI inarguably needs some refinement, there's no arguing about the power of GoodReader for the iPad. If you have big doc needs, check it out. And do it soon, since it's on sale for $0.99!)

YouTube link

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Great app for the price. It's a step towards making the iPad into a more useful platform.
  • GoodReader is the S#)($... my #1 app on the iPad. This is a must have. Incredible functionality - I would say an iPad could be a useful tool even just running this app alone. I like how you can connect to other servers to pull down additional documents, and how easy it is to organize files. I appreciate being able to secure separate directories as well as my iPad gets passed around a lot. Good to see you reviewing this one.
  • I just bought this on your recommendation. I am pleased. I've been trying to find a way to completely replace my portable with my iPad, and this is a major step in that direction. This is just awesome!
  • Man this is a great app. I bought it early and watching this video I still saw things I didn't know it did. Truly a great app., perhaps the best there is on the iPad, and only .99!
  • Great app!) regards to developers!) I m pleased that they are Russians too!
  • It's good at what it does, lots of capabilities. And it crashes frequently.
  • Slow as heck opening cloud sources like drop box, MobileMe. Can't open iDisk because it keeps asking for username and pad even though I enter it correctly when I set up the account in GoodReader. Very disappointing.
  • Yes, this maybe good application but once you have a document open you cannot close it (and go back to application). Very disappointing.
  • @Jerry G: I use it for my iDisk all the time and it works perfectly! Maybe you are typing your full email address in the account section? It specifically tells you NOT to use @me.com towards the end. JUST the username.
  • Anybody know how to open PDF's that are in iBook from GoodReader.
    I have a ton of PDF's in iBook - I am not able to locate or open them from GoodReader ? I have e-mailed then twice but no response.
    Is it possible to open PDF's that are in iBook while in GoodReader ? or I'm I trying to do something that is not possible. Thanks for any help.
  • Wow, almost like a Windows machine ... I just tried to transfer a photo on Skype to iPad and could not do it and could view it ... is there any other system so restrictive and awkward as iOS?