Papers to Go: Papers2 (Mac & iPad)

papersAs suggested in some of the comments on the Mendely / iPad post a week ago, I also took a look at Papers2 for the Mac (with a beta version available for PC) as a way of organising papers and optimising the workflow of reading them.

First-off, the good stuff: Papers is a “native” Mac application – and as you would expect, it is simply gorgeous – both on the iPad and on the Mac.
On the iPad takes advantage of the retina display of the new iPad – so the pixelated view you can get in Goodreader until they update is replaced by crisp and sharp letters.

I understand there are a lot of fans of Papers out there – but I have to admit I was a quite disappointed (maybe those who like it can tell me what I’m missing). Firstly, on the Mac it lacks the function to sync across different machines – I find that is a pretty serious flaw. Further, and maybe more specific to me(?), I had to delete the preferences (a tip I found in the support forums) and attempt to sync several times before it synced with my iPad. Before doing that, it refused to sync papers between the Mac and the iPad. Once I got that sorted – it seemed to work well though – and synced automatically when launching Papers on the iPad.

As you’d expect, papers let’s you highlight and add notes to PDF files – both on the Mac and iPad. However, it’s lacking the ability to write onto the PDF, something I find very useful (as notes don’t print well). A somewhat strange omission on the iPad is the ability to mark a paper as read (you can only do this on the main computer). This means, the paper you have read on the iPad remains marked as “new” until you select it on the main computer – and even then it does not appear in the “Recently Read” folder on the iPad. The iPad version can import from iDisk (but not iCloud?) and Dropbox – but does not offer a sync facility. A nice addition though, not available via Goodreader and Mendeley is to have a separate “note” attached to a paper – which also syncs.

On the Mac, Papers also offers the ability to insert citations into virtually all documents. That is quite good – and the cross-application flexibility definitely a plus over free competitors such as Zotero or Mendeley. However (again!), Papers does not offer the ability to edit the citation after inserting it (such as both Mendeley and Zotero) or supress the author (as Zotero can), if you write sentences like Miller (1993) said….

All in all, I think Papers looks great, and is very nice to work with (and probably a lot less “techie” than the Mendely->Sugarsync->Goodreader solution). But, it is lacking some essential features to be really useful beyond a (quite expensive) way of syncing papers to the iPad (but remember no “marked as read” function). If you are a pure Mac & iPad user – and only work on one machine – then this is probably a good programme. But, with a licence costing €70.21 (incl. of VAT) for the computer version and £6.99 for the iPad version – I’d have expected more functionality than what the software delivered, especially syncing between computers and more annotation features.

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