The Right Way to Handle PDFs in iOS

Viewing PDFs just got a little easier with the new app PDF Cabinet. It’s hard to find an app that will do what you want with storing, annotating, and organizing PDFs. The iBooks app in IOS stores them easily, but it’s far from a joyful experience. Other apps that handle PDFs do so, but they do so many other things other than just PDFs, that it can be difficult to manage.

The goal of PDF Cabinet is to handle PDFs the same way you would handle them if they were printed on paper. The goal is to handle them simply, and it does what it advertises, and promises to do even more in upcoming versions.


The first order of business is what to do with a PDF after you receive it in email. The iOS system is set up so that you can just download and save it to iBooks, but it just never seems to handle PDFs the way I want it to. Instead, by clicking the share menu in your email, you can send the PDF directly into Cabinet. Alternately, to import PDFs into Cabinet, you can download them directly through a URL, from your Photos, or through an iTunes connection. The developers promise that iCloud and DropBox integration is coming very soon. I chose to email PDFs to myself, then import into Cabinet, rather than go the old-fashioned iTunes route, simply because it was easier.


Viewing PDFs in Cabinet works very naturally. Having to scroll up on some PDF systems to see the individual pages just doesn’t seem to work right. Instead, you can just flip through the pages left and right here. It’s more natural. The app also allows for easy organization. All documents are automatically imported into the “Unsorted” folder. You can begin new folders and use a simple drag and drop to move the PDFs from the Unsorted to a new folder.


Additionally, Cabinet allows for great annotation possibilities. By either using the pop-up menu at the top, or by doing a long click on the PDF image itself, you can call up the annotation menu. This allows you the standards, such as drawing arrows, writing with a pencil, typing, etc. If there are others in your area using Cabinet, you can also do a live simultaneous collaboration with them on the same document which would be great for meetings. Documents can then be shared via Bluetooth or WiFi.


To share the PDF with others, just drag it into the Outgoing folder. This is great, because it allows for you to send multiple PDFs at the same time, instead of having to create separate emails. It also allows you the option of just sending the annotations, just sending the PDF, or sending the two together.


Cabinet also includes some fun extras. In the Misc. folder, it includes three “notebook” PDFs of squared graph paper, plain paper, and lined paper, just to give you a start on creating your own notebook PDFs in any style that you wish. Additionally it includes a notebook of UI Mockups and a book of Pencil and Paper Games. These consist of Paper Soccer, Capture a Square, and Noughts and Crosses. You can either play by passing the iPad back and forth between players, or by finding someone to play with via Collaboration with Bluetooth or WiFi.

This app has already found its way into my Utilities folder on my iPad. It’s already a great find the way it is, and makes it truly the best way to handle PDFs. When it picks up iCloud and Drop Box capabilities, it’s going to be even better.

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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