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I am looking for a tabbed PDF reader, preferably with annotation support (highlighting mostly) for Mac OS X. I looked at the Skim FAQ which said that tabs would never come to Skim.

I am currently writing where I need to have multiple PDFs open for reference (at the moment 17). This is a lot of windows which clutters upp my Exposé.

Does anybody know if such a PDF reader exists for Mac OS X?

I have had a look at Adobe Acrobat Reader, Skim, Preview.app, PDF Pen.

I found Dioretsa which has tabs, but no sadly no annotation.

Update 2012-05-16: Saving annotations in the PDF itself is also a must. E.g. Skim and Mendeley do not do this. Otherwise, Mendeley would have been a good choice.

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+1 for this request. Perhaps someone could create a new PDF plugin for Chrome/Firefox that has annotation.. any bored developers out there? :) –  Dolan Antenucci Jan 22 '13 at 17:38
    
For what it's worth, I tried emailing the developers of Skim, noting that github.com/rsms/chromium-tabs could be used to add tabs to their project (in their feature list, they said the lack of native support for tabs in OS X/Cocoa is the main roadblock) –  Dolan Antenucci Jan 22 '13 at 18:10
    
One more future option: I emailed FoxIt, and they said they're "working on rolling out Foxit Reader and Foxit PhantomPDF for MacOS in mid 2013" –  Dolan Antenucci Jan 22 '13 at 18:41

7 Answers 7

Clearview Reader from Canoe Software looks really promising. I liked their free app, PDFNut, which also supports tabbed browsing, bookmarks, and annotations. Clearview Reader has more features and for the very reasonable price of $7 I'm more than happy to support the developers.

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Do you know if Clearview Reader saves annotations inside the PDF or in their own database? I read this on their home page: "Revisions will be saved in library database automatically, not on the original book files, so "save changes" prompt dialog won't appear in your smooth reading. Line, arrow, rectangle, ellipse, highlight, strike, underline, free text, comments - for PDF annotations;" –  fnurl Feb 1 '13 at 21:44
    
I just downloaded the trial and tested, and unfortunately (for me at least), annotations are not saved to the PDF and are are not viewable in other PDF readers. This is too bad since I liked the tabs and library. By not saving annotations to the original, things like viewing annotations made on an iPad on the Mac and vice versa is not possible. –  fnurl Feb 1 '13 at 21:53

Two years later, I may have found something. There is now an app on the Mac App Store called PDF Reader X. It's free, has tabs and supports annotation!

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Admittedly, this isn't quite ideal, but…

Preview.app has a kind of tab-like behavior in the sidebar when you open multiple PDFs simultaneously, either by dragging them all to to the icon at once, opening multiple files using shift in the open dialog, or by dragging additional PDFs into the sidebar of an already open document.

Once opened this way, you can switch between documents with option-page up/down, which maintains your position in each document.

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It's certainly not the primary function of the program, but what about Safari? It displays and renders PDFs. It doesn't handle annotations natively, but there are Safari extensions like Coda Notes that add the ability to annotate.

Alternately, your web browser of choice could be used similarly.

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Thanks for the input! However, Coda Notes cannot annotate and save the annotations to the PDF. –  fnurl Oct 17 '11 at 18:10
    
'Doh! Sorry. I'm looking to see if there's another extension that might serve the purpose you want. –  Daniel Lawson Oct 17 '11 at 19:01

Check out Scrivener, the writing program. It doesn't use a "tab" metaphor, but it supports PDFs and several other document formats, and is quite good at displaying lots of documents and windows of information simultaneously and enabling you to switch around between them and reorder them while you are writing. It uses its own metaphors for organizing documents, patterned after flash cards and cork boards. You should try it out.

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You should look at 'Mendeley' which is primarily a Dropbox for the scientific Community. The Mendeley Desktop Application has an integrated PDF-Viewer which supports PDF-Display in Tabs, Text-Highlites and Notes. In the Screenshot you see two PDF's open in the Tabs and i have highlighted some Text at random.

The Desktop Software is free and you get 500 MB Space for sharing, like Dropbox you can expand that space with a premium (paid) Account.

Screenshot showin PDFs in Tabs and some random Text highlighted

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Thanks for the suggestion. I recently started using Mendeley, but do not use it to annotate PDFs as Mendeley for synchronization reasons does not store annotations in the PDF, but rather in a separate database. This makes annotations un-portable. The same goes for for Skim sadly. –  fnurl Mar 23 '12 at 8:10
    
ok - you should update your list of requirements with this feature. –  J.C. Mar 24 '12 at 8:23

Mac's own Preview actually works really well when working with multiple documents. I would even say that it's better than the tabbed approach (I tried both MightPDF and PDFNut) as I would often work with 15 or so PDFs all opened, resulting in tabs that no longer display any coherent information. The thumbnail on the side approach of Preview allows me to scroll through and easily locate the document I want.

Also, any annotations made will stick if you go to the print menu then on the bottom left corner, change to "Save as PDF…"

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