Create a PDF Library with FingerPDF

After email, the PDF file format is the one that many users complain about, a lot. The file format is now ubiquitous and each one of us end up having a handful of them for either personal or professional use. PDF files are extremely light weight, keep the document structure intact and in most cases can be accessed even without a specific app installed.

The locked down nature of the PDF format is a major bottleneck though. It’s tough to add notes, annotations or to search the contents of the PDF files in your hard drive. But, it might not be a problem going forward. Turn your collection PDFs into a functional and searchable PDF library with the help of FingerPDF. After the break let us see how exactly to do that!

Getting Started

FingerPDF is in public beta. Yet, the app is resourceful and helps you organize and browse your PDF files as a library of knowledge. It lets you search across thousands of pages in seconds, annotate and share your notes and to manage your library’s metadata.

The Web Mode

The Web Mode

FingerPDF has three modes of operation – organize, search and web. The app opened up in the web mode, which predictably is a web browser built into the app. It loads up their homepage with a video tutorial explaining the best ways to take advantage of the app.

I tried searching for some college prospectuses by typing in the built in address bar. Pages loaded a bit slower than it usual when compared to a normal desktop browser, but they showed up nonetheless. The navigation works just like a regular browser, until you stumble upon a PDF file. They are downloaded and displayed in Google Chrome style. Hover at the end of the page to bring up the menu bar.

Organizing Stuff

Organizing Files by Creating Folders

Organizing Files by Creating Folders

You can organize all your PDF files by creating multiple folders. To do that, right click on the left pane and create a new FingerPDF folder. After doing that, click on the + button to specify a particular folder from the hard drive you want to link to the newly created FingerPDF folder. To make the app add new files as and when files are added, use the Add Watched Folder option instead of the Add Folder option.

PDF file previews are displayed whenever a file is selected. Toggle the layout buttons at the top to move the previews to a position that’s convenient for you or disable them altogether. It might take some some getting used to if you are a fan of full screen reading without distractions. As a workaround, you can double click on the files to open them in Preview (or another default PDF reader).

Searching Files

I thought it would be better to cover search after talking about adding tags, notes and metadata. But then it won’t be a fair since I would be the one doing the heavy lifting by adding relevant details to the files. So, in essence FingerPDF should be able to come up with better search results even without metadata and the refine the same results once metadata details are updated to the files.

Search Results on Display

Search Results on Display

With that as the yardstick, I searched for a few different keywords on files without any metadata and was amazed by the results. All the pages from multiple files that contained those keywords were displayed with appropriate highlighting. Timestamps, page numbers where the keywords appear and the toggle mode between pages and files make the search experience whole lot better.

Adding Tags, Comments and Notes to Files

Adding Tags, Comments and Notes to Files

Every time you search your pdfs, you can tag your results and then use those tags to filter just what you want. All tags are listed neatly on the left pane for quick access.

Adding Annotations and Metadata

Highlighting the Content

Highlighting the Content

Add comments, tags, ISBN information and your own notes to any pdf so you can look up what you want, when you want. You can highlight content that’s important to you in any pdf file and export those highlights as well. Of course, you have a few color choices when it comes making your selection stand out.

Final Thoughts

FingerPDF is fast and responsive. It races past a lot of modern day PDF readers with its performance. However, once in a while the app hangs up and recovers after a few minutes. Hope this issue gets resolved before the app graduates from beta. People might not be willing pay for an app that stutters in the middle of a productive research session.

It’s a great idea and a perfect niche that FingerPDF goes after. There aren’t many efficient apps that help maintain an exhaustive PDF library. Another aspect that works in favor this app is that there is very little bloat. It has just the right set of features that majority of target audience is looking for. There is no better way to take control of your PDFs!


FingerPDF is an all in one easy-to-use application to create a searchable PDF library.



Add Yours
  • Looks like an interesting app, but it’s high time that someone creates an organizer that can handle multiple file types simultaneously. For example, I have code books, but also screencasts and sample files. Am I to use “fingerPDF” (what a weird name?) for the PDFs, and “usher” for the videos? Yes, I could just use the finder, but I want something better… Is there nothing out there? I am aware of Yep/Leap (what’s the difference between these apps anyway) but I never liked these. Anything else available that is fast and flexible?

    • You may try DEVONthink. It’s fast, stable, reliable, allows tags, search by content, uses openmeta tags, etc.

      However, I store my more than 5GBs of pdfs in a regular folder. All the pdfs are tagged (openmeta; most with multiple tags) and I use Tembo for my search (e.g. tag:history).

    • Besides DevonThink, there are Together and Yojimbo as information organizers which can search multiple types of files.

      I am a Together user and find it excellent. At this exactly moment I am using a Together library with 613 itens, including pdf, doc, rtf and other files. Any search is done almost immediately and the files can be organized in multiple groups, including normal and smart ones. As the files are just linked, you can integrate them in more than one group, keeping a flexible structure. It also supports tagging and Finder integration.

      With Together you can not make annotations inside pdf files, but you can add comments which are stored in the library and associated with the file. As long as I tested, DevonThink and Yojimbo have a quite similar set of features.

  • I stopped reading at “going forward.”

  • Together is a great alternative for handling multiple file types.