Spreadsheets? How many spreadsheets are available? Not many. Word processors? Dozens and dozens. Photo filters and effects apps? Even more dozens. Even the Portable Document Format (PDF) segment of Mac apps has plenty of competition. Are they all the same? Neither in price, nor in capability. Here’s an example.
Read, Take Notes
A quick look at the Mac App Store and a search for PDF readers turns up plenty of examples of how healthy the app segment is these days. PDF readers range in price from free to nearly $50 and everywhere in between.
This one is free and does much of what Apple’s built-in Preview PDF reader does, but with a twist. It’s called Skim and it has a few features that anyone who uses PDFs will find useful.
Not only does Skim let you open and read PDFs, but it also lets you highlight text in a variety of colors and create and edit notes; embedded into the document. As PDF readers go, Skim appears somewhat standard; table of contents in the left sidebar, tools on top.
Where Skim really shines is in the extensive preferences options.
All your highlights and notes are easily viewed in Skim. There’s fullscreen mode, too, and built-in transitions between pages so you can use Skim as a presentation tool. The magnification tool makes it easy to zoom in on a section of a PDF, notes can be exported as text files, and Skim can also download remote PDFs with a URL.
Skim goes well beyond the standard PDF reader and Apple’s own Preview on the Mac with integration with BibDesk, AppleScript support, and built-in cropping tools. If Preview isn’t enough, and it’s not for many Mac users, Skim could be a good choice because so many features are different than the traditional PDF reader but it’s free.
While Preferences are a place to start, Skim is packed with features that keep you coming back.
- Viewing PDFs
- Adding and editing notes
- Highlighting important text, including one-swipe highlight modes
- Making “snapshots” for easy reference
- Navigation using table of contents or thumbnails, with visual history
- View all your notes and highlights
- Convenient reading in full screen
- Giving powerful presentations, with built-in transitions
- Handy preview of internal links
- Focus using a reading bar
- Magnification tool
- Smart cropping tools
- Extensive AppleScript support
- Saving passwords in Keychain
- Export notes as text
- Automatic download of remote PDFs
- Support for Apple Remote Control
- Interaction with LaTeX, SyncTeX, and PDFSync
- Integration with BibDesk and other third party applications
- Spotlight support
Compare Skim’s extensive and detailed preference settings with those in the Mac’s Preview app. There is no comparison. Skim does more. Not shabby for free, right?