Ever get a PDF from someone that looks mysteriously empty on your iPhone? An email like, “I marked up your drawing. See attached for the area I’m talking about.” Then you open the attachment and see your own drawing but no comments? It’s because the default PDF viewer (iBooks) can’t display PDF comments.

Never fear, there’s an app for that. There are actually lots of apps that show annotations. I like Adobe Reader. If you don’t have it on your iPhone you need to go get it now.

Once you’ve installed it, you can skip the default iPhone viewer in your Mail app and other apps, too. In Mail, just hold down on the attachment for a couple seconds instead of tapping. You’ll get a new screen asking what app you’d like to use. (Choose Adobe Reader.) The document is added to Adobe Reader’s library, and all the glorious comments become visible.

What’s more, you can add your own comments from your iPhone. And you can send the doc as an attachment from Reader. Or print it. You can also add it to Acrobat.com, if you want to keep an account in Adobe’s cloud. If it confuses you, there’s help online.

Adobe Reader is great for field work, too.

You can collect PDFs here that are always accessible once they’re downloaded to your phone (unlike Dropbox, which requires a network connection). You can organize them in folders and/or rename the files as you please. So before you do a site visit, load it up with all your construction docs and finish schedules. Much more convenient than lugging around a binder.

By the way, you can “Open in Adobe Reader” from the Dropbox app, too. Look for this button (or a variant of it, anything with an arrow coming out of a box):

open-in-icon

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