I'm a big fan of note-taking in plain text with Markdown, whenever possible. But sometimes we all need to annotate PDFs. Maybe it's a slide deck, lecture notes, diagrams, or a report. Maybe you're highlighting and writing on your PDFs during a conference presentation. But then you'd actually like to see those annotations on your Windows PC.
Here's how you can set up seamless sync of your annotated PDFs between your iPad and your Windows PC (and your iPhone too, if that's helpful for you).
Step one: Download the PDF Expert app for iOS
There are free and pro versions of PDF Expert for iOS available, depending on what kind of PDF editing you need to get done.
Step two: Annotate your PDFs
Open your PDF file in the PDF Expert app on your iPad or iPhone. Use your Apple Pencil, keyboard, or finger to highlight, make notes, scribble ideas in the margin, whatever you like.
Step three: Choose your cloud storage option (Dropbox, etc) on your iPad
Here's the key step to set up your seamless sync-- in the PDF Expert app, click "Connections" then "Add Connection". You'll select your cloud storage option of choice (such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive). Navigate to the folder you'd like to save your PDFs.
Step four: Open the PDFs on your Windows computer
Open your Dropbox or other cloud storage folder on your PC-- and they're all there. You can edit the PDF on your Windows computer, and have any changes synced there as well.
Congrats! You're done and ready to go.
Next steps for developing an efficient, effective digital note-taking system
PS - You may have come across this post because you're trying to organize PDFs to build a personal knowledge management system. If you're ready for a systematic approach to crafting your own custom PKM system that's targeted for your unique goals and projects, you might be interested in the Calmer Notes approach.
I've created Calmer Notes: Personal Knowledge Management for Busy People based on my own two-decade experience with personal knowledge management. The Calmer Notes method will take you through the process of creating and maintaining a tailored, mindfully-designed personal knowledge management system to organize your digital notes and files.
This self-paced course (which includes digital book + workbook + PKM app database) is now available for purchase.
- What personal knowledge management (PKM) means -- and why busy people need a PKM system to stop feeling overwhelmed 📚
- How to identify the existing pieces of your PKM system 🔍
- How to choose the right note-taking app that actually works for you (instead of switching apps every few months) 📝
- How to design and create a personal knowledge management system that works for the reality of your right-now life 🕰️
- Years of hard-won, first-hand knowledge about personal knowledge management I've accumulated after years of completing a PhD, an MD, and working as a physician while parenting 👩⚕️
If you'd like to learn more, check out an overview of the Calmer Notes approach or visit Calmer Notes. You'll also get a free guide to the 5 most common note taking myths (that just might be stopping you from building a sustainable personal knowledge management system) when you sign up for my newsletter.
Wishing you all the best on your personal knowledge management journey!