Mobile Toolbox – Documents by Readdle

The Documents app [iOS - free] is at the top of the must-have apps list for genealogy research. It serves as a document reader, media player and file manager – all in one beautiful package. With Documents, you can search, read, bookmark and annotate iWork and MS Office documents, read PDF documents and ebooks (ePub and FB2), view photos and videos and even listen to music.

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The file manager screen in Documents for Readdle.

Need to view a document attached to an email message? No problem. Just long-tap the attached file and choose the Open in Documents option. There is also a built-in browser so you can find and download documents from web sites.

If that’s not enough, Documents also serves as an impressive file manager, giving you access to your computer and cloud services. Using the Wi-Fi Drive feature, you can upload documents from your desktop computer to your iPad using your desktop browser. You can also share files with your favorite cloud storage service and download online files directly to Documents. Of course there are tools to copy, move and delete the files saved in Documents. You can even select and zip a number of files. Use the Share icon to send any of your files to someone via email.

Other Readdle apps work with Documents to give you even more functionality. For example, adding Printer Pro [iPad - $6.99] makes it easy to print attachments, documents or web pages from your device to either Wi-Fi or USB printers. (Note: USB printing requires a free helper app installed on your computer.) PDF Converter [iPad - $6.99] can convert the files managed in the Documents app – including those stored in cloud services such as Dropbox – to PDF documents. Need to fill in PDF forms, sign documents or markup documents for review? Then PDF Expert [iPad and iPhone - $9.99] is the app for you.

Readdle’s suite of document management apps give your iPad an amazing amount of functionality and access to your files and documents wherever they are stored. All of this in your choice of easy-to-use and affordable packages.

A Letter Archive Option

From the Gazette archives . . .

A while back there was an interesting discussion in the Technology for Genealogy group on Facebook about handling letters – scanning, transcribing and displaying them. It’s a great discussion and full of useful suggestions. Since I’m also working on a collection of letters, it’s been very helpful.

Grandpa’s letters.

My project is a collection of letters my grandfather sent my grandmother before they got married. She came to the tiny Holland, Georgia, community to teach school in 1908. There, she met my grandfather. She was only there for one year before moving on to teach at other rural schools around Georgia. For the next five years, they corresponded – and met occasionally – until he finally convinced her to marry him in 1913. He died in 1921 so these letters and a few photos are our only connection to him.

I’m slowly scanning and transcribing the letters using Keynote, Apple’s presentation graphics app, as my publishing tool. As you can see here, each page of the letter gets its own slide with both the page’s image and its transcription. I chose Keynote because it is a very flexible platform. Each slide can be treated as a separate entity to be quickly reordered or even pulled out of one presentation file and inserted into another. Slides can be duplicated for use in other projects. I can quickly export a presentation as a PDF document, an HTML slideshow or a video. I even have the ability to export each slide as an individual image file.

Currently I’m building each letter as a separate presentation file, but as this archive grows, so do my options for creating things from them. For example, I can pull out an individual slide as a graphic image to include it as a figure in another document. I can combine several letter files – like those he sent discussing a trip to Lookout Mountain – with new and old photos to build a slideshow documentary. Add some narration and that slideshow can become a video documentary.

Keynote is my presentation app of choice, but PowerPoint, Presentations (from the WordPerfect suite) and Impress (from OpenOffice) all have much the same capabilities and would all work well for this type of project. And, if you’re looking for an online archive platform for these project files, Scribd will store and display them quite nicely. You won’t get the multimedia capabilities of the online slide-sharing platforms, but your transcriptions will be searchable.

Take another look at your presentation software. You may find it has many uses for presenting your family’s history.

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon just announced Kindle Unlimited – a subscription service for Kindle books. For $9.99 a month you can read as many Unlimited books as you want for as long as you want. You don’t have to check the first one in before you can check another out. And, if there’s an Audible version of the Unlimited book you’re reading, you can listen to it too! I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of genealogy books that are part of the Unlimited program!

KindleUnlimited

Amazon’s offering a 30-day free trial. Check it out and see if this isn’t a great way to get access to some great books without destroying your budget.