Making the Most of iAnnotate on the iPad

Last week Ian MacInnes weighed the pros and cons of various note-taking and PDF-annotating apps for the iPad. One of the apps Ian mentioned was iAnnotate, which Jason had previously praised on ProfHacker. Since Jason’s post covered a much earlier version of iAnnotate, I thought it’d be worthwhile to revisit this powerful PDF tool, available for just under ten bucks in the Apple App Store.

One of the features that Jason had wanted for iAnnotate back in 2010—the ability to insert images into PDFs—is now included in iAnnotate. This means, for example, if you have a JPG of your signature in your photo library, you can insert it into PDFs on the iPad, thereby “signing” the documents. You do this by adding the image to your stamp library (accessed by the big rubber stamp icon in your toolbox).

Another feature of iAnnotate that I’ve found useful is the Mail Summary option (found by pressing the standard Send To or Share icon). Instead of emailing the document itself, Mail Summary sends a copy of all your annotations and highlighted text. By emailing the summary to yourself (or perhaps, to Evernote), you can easily get a digest of the PDF—a handy list of all your notes and the document text that stood out to you. I often use these summaries as quick guides to my class readings or journal articles I’m using for research.

Finally, there are iAnnotate’s experimental features, which must be manually enabled by opening up the preferences menu (with the Gear icon), and selecting the Advanced sub-menu. There are several experimental features I frequently use, such as converting Microsoft Word documents into PDFs. You do this by first opening up any Word document in the standard way on the iPad (via email, Dropbox, etc.) and then selecting the usual Share icon in the upper right corner:

Saving Word Documents as PDFs on the iPad

Choose to Open in “iAnnotate PDF” and that’s exactly what will happen. iAnnotate converts the Word file into a PDF, which you can then mark-up and annotate. Perfect for grading papers!

The other powerful experimental feature is the ability to convert any web page into a PDF. Simply visit a web page in iAnnotate’s built-in browser. Select the Share icon to the left of the URL box, and you can Save Page as PDF. This is an elegant alternative to the PDFMyURL service that Billie wrote about last year, and I’ve often used it to convert pages (say, from ProfHacker) to PDFs on the fly.

iAnnotate includes many other powerful tools in addition to these four. I’m singling them out simply because they’re ones I discovered accidentally but which I’ve come to rely on. What about you? If you use iAnnotate, what little known features have you used for your teaching or research?

Important photo courtesy of Flickr user Quinn Dombrowksi / Creative Commons Licensed

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