5 top-notch apps for reading on an iPad

5 top-notch apps for reading on an iPad
Mac Tip #487, 18 May 2011

The iPad excels as a device for reading, whether it’s books, web pages, RSS feeds, PDFs or material from other sources. Here are 5 apps I find powerful, easy and a pleasure to use.


Dropbox for iPad.

Dropbox for iPad.

OK, Dropbox (referral link that gives you extra free space) has nothing to do with reading, but everything to do with helping to make material readily available across devices. I explain more about it in How to access your files from anywhere — with Dropbox.

Dropbox is free and available for your Mac, Windows computer, iPad, Android or Blackberry device. Just install it on your iPad and you’ll find various apps can make use of it for sending, receiving and sharing files.




GoodReader is very powerful, and totally worth its US$4.99 price tag.

GoodReader is the super-robust PDF reader for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. … With GoodReader on your iPad/iPhone, you can read virtually anything, anywhere: books, movies, maps, pictures. Use it once and you’ll be hooked. …

GoodReader not only supports massive PDF and TXT files, but also handles the most popular file types:

  • MS Office — .doc, .ppt., .xls
  • iWork ’08/’09
  • HTML and Safari webarchives
  • High resolution images
  • Even audio and video!
I use GoodReader to find files in Dropbox that I want to read.

I use GoodReader to find files in Dropbox that I want to read.

Two features I love about GoodReader are that it can access files in my Dropbox and attachments in my Gmail Inbox.

If I download a file, such as PDF that I want to read later I move it to my Dropbox while on my Mac so it’s available on my iPad later when I’m ready to read it.

The screenshot shows that I have GoodReader open and am looking in my Dropx to find the file I want to read. When I select the file it is transferred wirelessly to my iPad and I can start reading.

Grabbing an attachment from Gmail works in a similar way.




ReadItLater is the app and service you need for saving things from the web, RSS feeds or links in Twitter for reading later.

This one has 2 parts:

  1. send an item to the service
  2. read the item.
Send an item to ReadItLater

Some apps include a menu item to send an article or link to ReadItLater, while if you’re on a web page you can use a bookmarklet.

I explain more about ReadItLater in Save interesting links to read later, which also mentions Instapaper, a similar service, also available as an app for iPad.

Send to ReadItLater from Osfoora HD.

Send to ReadItLater from Osfoora HD.

For example, suppose I’m reading through my Twitter feed and someone provides a link to something that looks interesting. Using Osfoora HD on my iPad I can tap on the link and choose Read It Later. The URL is sent to ReadItLater, and when I’m looking for some interesting reading I call it up from my list of saved items.

My screenshot shows that I tapped on a link my friend Shirley had tweeted. Instead of breaking my workflow to read the link right away I selected Read It Later from the options that appeared.

Read an item later

Items you’ve saved to the ReadItLater service are available from a web page, so you can read them on any device you like. However, there’s also an app for iPad that gives you lots of really useful options for reading.

The app is free, but I chose to pay US$2.99 to upgrade for extra options, such as emailing an item, and to help support the developer’s work.


Kindle on the iPad. Home Page.

Kindle on the iPad. Home Page.

Amazon’s Kindle is a hardware device, but you don’t need to buy one if you have an iPad. Instead use the free Kindle app to find and read Kindle ebooks. I wrote about Kindle in Try an ebook today — they’re fun.

A couple of the features I really like about Kindle are that I can receive sample chapters before buying, I receive the ebooks instantly after buying, and I can look up unfamiliar words in the free dictionary.

Find cheap ebooks

And here’s a great trick: many perfectly good ebooks are either free or available for less than $1. In fact I discovered a favourite new author by reading a 99 cent book.

Search for a topic or genre and sort the results by price, low to high. Now find books that look interesting to you.


Share an item from Reeder.

Share an item from Reeder.

If you follow blogs and other websites by their RSS feed then Reeder (US$4.99) is the app you want on your iPad. It syncs with Google Reader and makes it a pleasure to skim, read and share articles, including sending them to Read It Later.

Reeder looks great and works beautifully.

I find I spend a lot of time with these apps. Any time I want to fill in a few minutes by reading an article or while away a day reading a book these are the apps I turn to. What do you like to read on your iPad, and how do you read it?

How do you read on your iPad? Please leave any Comments at the website.

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