Browsing Internet Archive With Documents

The Documents app [iOS – free] is more than a PDF reader – a lot more. Not only can it read an impressive list of document formats, it is also a document management tool. With Documents you can connect to iCloud, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and many other cloud storage services. You can copy, move, rename, email and delete files in any of your connected platforms. Then there’s the builtin web browser. No, it’s not fancy, but it does have the basic components you’d expect in a browser. Although I wouldn’t recommend using it for everyday browsing, it can be very useful when you’re wandering around the Internet Archive looking for records, local histories, published genealogies and other public domain goodies. Let’s see what it can do.

Documents home screen
A view of the Documents home screen showing the menu in the left sidebar.

From Documents’ main screen, tap the Browser icon in the left sidebar. Swipe to the left to remove the sidebar so the browser takes up the whole screen. The three line icon you see at the top left side of the screen will bring that sidebar back whenever you need it. The other browser tools are (from left to right):

  • last/previous screen
  • address/search box
  • downloads
  • bookmarks
  • share

NOTE: The row of icons you see in the example below are part of the Internet Archive site and not to be confused with the Documents browser.

Document screen
A document screen in Internet Archive.

In the example above, I’ve found an interesting Florida tourist guide from 1890. After browsing the booklet online I’ve decided it’s something I want to download. Both PDF and ePub are download options that Documents can read but since this document’s layout and graphics are as important as the text, I’ll tap the PDF option.

Download to Documents
Tap the download format you want. When the download icon appears, tap again.

When the little download icon appears next to the chosen format, tap again and the cover or first page of my chosen document appears on the screen. Next I tap the Share icon in the browser toolbar (at the far right).

Saving the document
Tap the share icon to display the save panel.

The Save File panel appears so I can rename the file if I wish and choose the folder for the document. After making my changes, I tap the Done button. Once the download is complete, I open the menu sidebar and return to the Documents display. From there I navigate to the folder where the document is saved to view it.

Documents screen
Document maintenance screen.

Notice the Edit icon in the top right corner of the Documents screen. I can tap that to perform document management functions. First I’ll select the document(s) I want to action then choose the tool in the sidebar. Note that the copy and move actions support my connected cloud storage platforms too.

This is just one of many features that makes Documents an important part of my research toolbox. Next up is a look at Documents’ reading and annotation tools . . .

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