Did you know that the amazing Documents app [iOS – free] has a built-in browser? Not only that, but it’s the perfect browser to use when you are wandering through the Internet Archive looking for books, documents and other publications. Why? Because using the Documents browser, you can quickly and easily find, download, organize and read all kinds of historical publications. Here’s how.
From the main screen, look at the tools in the left sidebar and you will see the Browser icon. Tap it to open the browser.
Notice the toolbar at the top of the browser. Tap the three bar icon on the toolbar’s left to display the Documents sidebar at any time. The arrow icons will move you forward and backward as you browse the web. On the right are the bookmark, download and share icons. I’ve typed in the address of the Internet Archive and here’s what the home screen looks like in the Documents browser
Did you notice the SIGN IN item on the site’s toolbar. Internet Archive has a number of useful tools but you will need a free user account in order to use them. Click on the SIGN IN icon to get started. Provide an email address and password to create your account. Once this is done, any documents, books or other items you “favorite” will be added to your My Library page. Tap your user icon in the toolbar and choose My Library to view your personal collection.
Take advantage of the bookmarks feature to easily return to the collections you frequently use. Here you see I’ve bookmarked the American Libraries collection inside the archive and I also have bookmarks to take me to the Genealogy Gophers and my Moultrie Creek Gazette blog. To set a bookmark, go to the screen you want to bookmark, tap the bookmark icon on the browser toolbar then tap the Add to Bookmarks button at the bottom of the panel. When the bookmark panel is displayed, you can use the Edit command at the top right of the panel to reorganize your bookmarks list, delete bookmarks and edit bookmark titles.
In the American Libraries, I used the search box on the left of the screen to look for things related to the area I’m researching – St. Augustine, Florida. I’ve got 106 hits. Not bad! The first four items are visible in this screen. Notice that the item on the far right is a fairly recent – and copyrighted – publication. Because of that I can’t download a copy, but I can “borrow” it to read. A user account is required to borrow things and at times it may mean you can only read it in your browser.
Here is the book I selected to view. In the black space to the right of the book you see two icons. The four arrows icon will enlarge the book so it fits your screen. Use the magnifying glass icon to start a search inside the book. Below the book viewer is the metadata and download area. The three box icons you see on the right just above DOWNLOAD OPTIONS make it possible to favorite, share or flag this document. Remember, when you favorite an item, it is saved to your My Library area.
As you scroll down into the metadata area, you will see the download options available. Since the Documents app can read ePub, text and PDF files, you can choose the one you prefer. Here I have tapped the PDF option. Once I did that the tiny download icon appeared next to it. Tap that icon to begin the download. The Documents app takes over from here.
The strange red thing you see here is the cover to this book. The next step is to tap the download icon in the browser’s toolbar. When the Downloads panel appears, tap the Save Page button at the bottom of the panel.
The Save File panel appears showing the file name of the item and the default download folder. Internet Archive has its own naming conventions, but they seldom make sense to me so I usually rename the file. Just tap the name field then remove and replace the text you want. To move your download to a different folder, tap the arrow icon to the right of the folder line and select the folder you want.
Since there is a limited amount of space on my mobile devices, I keep most of my documents, books and journals in cloud storage. As you see here, I have connected Documents to my iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive accounts. The publications you see in this example are stored in the eLibrary folder in my iCloud account. All I have to do now is tap the item I want to read.
One other little goodie. The Documents reader component can also search the text. Tap the magnifying glass icon at the top of the reading screen and it will turn into a text box so you can enter the appropriate search terms. Tap Done and a panel containing the results list appears. The number to the right of the page number shows how many times your search term is found on that page. Tap any text item and you are taken right to it.
Documents’ find/capture/organize/read capability works with more than just Internet Archive. Genealogy Gophers is another great site for finding historical books and publications. I’ve downloaded several of Ancestry’s state research guides using Documents along with speaker notes posted on my genealogy society’s website.
This is just one of many useful and time-saving things you can do with Documents. It is a must-have app for researchers both on the road and at home.