August 27, 2011

Print to PDF provides Instapaper to GoodReader link

Instapaper's clean display
I love Instapaper. It's a simple service that makes reading websites much easier.

You know how junky some websites are -- I'm sorry to say my employer's is among them -- with multiple columns and ads and gadgets blinking for your attention. Add the propensity of web designers to use gray text, and it means a lot of web pages are hard to read.

Instapaper solves this problem, along with that of "this looks like a great article, but I don't have time to read it right now." Install the Instapaper bookmarklet on your browser's toolbar, and you can send those articles to your Instapaper account for reading later. You get just the article, in an easy-to read font with no surrounding distractions. I use the iPad app to read articles on my lunch break.

It's hard to complain about a simple service that does one thing really well. But the feature I long for in Instapaper is the ability to annotate. I like to highlight articles and write marginal notes.

Print to PDF is prepared
to export to other apps;
even its competition.
Figuring I couldn't be the only one who felt this way, I searched for an Instapaper annotation solution. I was 2.5 hours on the hunt before I found this thread, which offered two solutions. Then I had to pick.

Unfortunately, the only way to try most apps is to buy them. So, given the multiple accolades for Save2PDF for iPad, I bought that one. It's got more features, and got a good review from MacWorld.

I was disappointed. The PDFs it rendered were not attractive. For example, an article that appeared in Arial rendered in Courier once Save2PDF was done with it. Its user interface is nonintuitive, with inscrutable icons. And getting the PDFs out of the app and into GoodReader so I could annotate them? I can't figure out how to do that, other than e-mailing them to my desktop Mac and then syncing to GoodReader. Not an elegant solution.

So then I bought the newer, cheaper app that had fewer referrals. It does what I need it to much better. Print to PDF is a simple app that that does one thing really well. And it has a "Share" button that includes an "Open in…" command, and GoodReader appears in that list, along with iBooks, Dropbox, and Evernote. Perfect.

In GoodReader, I can
highlight all I want.
You might well ask why I don't just send the articles from Instapaper to Evernote and mark them up there. Well, sometimes I do. But Evernote, so far, lacks a highlight feature. So I use Evernote when I'm adding a lot of notes, and the PDF method when I'm making a lot of highlights.

The Internet offers a flood of information, and an increasing number of ways to manage the flood. How do you manage your flood?


  1. UPDATE: Evernote's iPad app now includes highlighting.

  2. FURTHER UPDATE: Instapaper now includes a command to send articles directly to GoodReader. It's in the Share menu.