Life Long Learning in Action

Friday, February 1, 2008

Great PDF Document Viewer for the Mac: Skim

A trend that I am beginning to see more and more of in the graduate classes that I am taking is the lack of textbook purchases that I am having to make. I think that this is wonderful. There were plenty of textbooks from my undergraduate years that cost a ton, yet were rarely used. In the place of textbooks the professors select journal articles or specific chapters from books that the library scans in using an electronic reserve system. The journal articles are typically accessible through the university library subscription service database (ProQuest, EBSCO, JSTOR, etc.) In the past I would go straight to the campus computer lab and print 20-25 page articles out, one at a time.

Such a waste of paper!

Instead of this I have been doing the best I can to utilize Adobe Reader as a way to read the PDF's and take notes on paper or with a word processor. The new Adobe Reader 8 has some nice highlighting and note taking features. However, with any free software released by a major corporation, it is expected that the consumer pay for more functionality (Adobe Acrobat).

I found a really nice, open source, PDF/Note taker application called Skim.

Dock.jpg

For a free application there is plenty of functionality. Below is an image I snapped along with some text pointing out the key components of the user interface.

101 Resources.pdf (page 4 of 20).jpg

Even when switching to full screen mode the user still has the ability to use all of the markup tools for commenting and taking notes on the content of the document. There are a few easy to remember keyboard shortcuts which helps the user accomplish the task much smoother. Using it today in full screen mode I had a new discovery when I moved my cursor toward the edge of the screen. The notes window pane and the thumbnail window pane would appear, alternating based upon the side of the screen that I moved the cursor towards. I was pleasantly surprised and I feel that this is great for jumping from page to page, or note to note without ever leaving the fullscreen mode.

Overall I am quite pleased with the application, and it serves my educational reading needs! For the Mac user I would suggest it over using Preview or Adobe.

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