[OS X TeX] Best iPad PDF viewer for math?

Ross Moore ross.moore at mq.edu.au
Sat Aug 22 01:39:09 CEST 2020

Hi all,

On 22 Aug 2020, at 8:38 am, Louis Talman <talmanl at gmail.com<mailto:talmanl at gmail.com>> wrote:

I use Notability.  In addition to the abilities you ask for, it allows one to write on PDFs, either those imported or those created by the app.  Inexpensive styli work, though for good resolution you will want to go a step up to Adonit’s Mark 4.  (In any event, use a capacitive stylus for economy.  I presume that an Apple Pencil or something of that ilk will work, but why spend the $$$!). You can also connect it to a projector, use it as a display in your classroom as you record what you write in class.  Then you can transfer the resulting PDF to a website where students can have access to it.

I use an iPad Pro with Apple pencil.
This was purchased using funds not otherwise spent on travelling to TUG 2020.
When we first went into lock-down mid-March, I ordered it all straight-away, as the need to deliver
tutorials on-screen was so obvious. My Department/Faculty fast-tracked the approval to use those funds.

The natural viewer that comes by accessing PDFs via the iPad's File System app is fine.
(I suppose this is a version of Preview for iOS.)

It supports the Apple Pencil, of course, and lets you zoom and navigate with gestures or move through pages
via small icons for each page, down the right side. (Maybe it can be switched to left, I don’t know yet.)
Basically there’s no obvious need for any other App.
With AirDrop, I copy the TeX-produced PDFs from the MacBook to the iPad, and can place the result
into appropriate folders for each class that I’m teaching. It’s all very, very convenient.

Using an HDMI cable, I share the iPad screen, to be shown in a Zoom session run from my laptop.
Zoom can be run from the iPad itself, but the restriction to a single window/screen at a time makes that rather
clunky to control allowing students to join, and monitoring Chat contents, etc., at the same time as delivering
a lecture or tutorial class.
On the other hand, I have frequently joined a Zoom session with the iPad as co-Host, giving a way to
both see what students are seeing, and have the ability to share the iPad’s screen directly as a
separate Zoom participant.
(There is an issue, however, with Cloud recordings when there are 2 instances of the same login address.
 Recording onto the local computer seems to be fine, though.)

Adobe has a free reader:  Acrobat Mobile  for iOS. Again the Apple pencil is supported.
There’s a popup for Bookmarks, and a slider down the RHS for quickly flowing through pages.
In a sense this is nicer, as you are automatically in full-screen mode, unless bringing up
and using tools with appropriate gestures. Use gestures to smoothly resize/zoom in and out.

You can Save and Export in many different formats; but some features require an extra subscription
— just like you don’t get in Adobe Reader everything that Acrobat Pro can do, without paying a little bit.

Acrobat Mobile also has a new experimental feature called Liquid Mode.
However this is (so far) only used with small documents, of specific types.
It doesn’t work with my teaching materials, as these are regarded as too large
or complex for Liquid Mode. There’s no crash or anything, just the popup
saying that the PDF isn’t suitable for that mode.

As with other iPad Apps, you can share a document to Acrobat Mobile.
This then creates a second copy that is used privately by AM, after some initial scanning
and/or processing for suitability.
Presumably it is at this point that it is determined whether Liquid Mode is appropriate for it,
and whether all the specified fonts are available – in case any are not embedded.

Upon receiving a file via AirDrop, I can choose to associate the PDF to Acrobat Mobile.
Or the association can be done at any later time, by sharing from whatever other App
you may be using to view the PDF.

I suggest you get the free Acrobat Mobile from the App store and see how you like it.
I can see it only getting better, as Adobe does have a real commitment to improving
the experience of reading PDFs.

On Aug 21, 2020, 11:41 AM -0600, Richard Seguin <riseguin at earthlink.net<mailto:riseguin at earthlink.net>>, wrote:
Skim does not make a PDF viewer for iPads. What iPad PDF viewer most closely matches the capability of Skim, especially in regard to math documents? I can view my PDF documents in the Books and Safari apps, but they don’t seem to give me the table of contents in a readily accessible sidebar, don’t have Back and Forward buttons (pages in order of viewing), can't navigate by logical rather than physical page, and don’t give a thumbnail of a \ref if I hoover the cursor over the \ref.

There are a bunch of these viewers available, and I’m hoping that someone has already done research so I don’t have to.

It would be wonderful to be able to be able to carry around 200 page math documents in a svelte one pound package like my iPad Air.

Richard Séguin

Hope this helps.


Dr Ross Moore
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
12 Wally’s Walk, Level 7, Room 734
Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
T: +61 2 9850 8955  |  F: +61 2 9850 8114
M:+61 407 288 255  |  E: ross.moore at mq.edu.au<mailto:ross.moore at mq.edu.au>
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