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Recommendations for PDF app on Mac?


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Not really VW, but anyways: I've switched to Mac from Windows and it is a source of much happiness in my life 🙂 Now there is one major piece of software missing for the Mac and that's Bluebeam. It's really starting to become an industry standard where I live and even if I've managed without it now for a while I miss it dearly. I don't use all the features but for simple annotation, measuring and just viewing it's really outstanding. So 2 questions:

 

  • Is anyone running Bluebeam on their Mac? Opinions on Fusion, Parallels, CrossOver or other solutions? Sooner or later I'll probably end up in a project where Bluebeam is mandatory.
  • Recommendations for other PDF apps for the Mac? On my short wish list are: easy callouts/annotations, simple zooming function with the scroll wheel, ability to take measurements on scaled drawings.
    I've tried the following without luck:
    • Adobe Acrobat. For some reason just really slow, even on my M1.
    • Apple Preview. Fast but can't take measurement, no smooth zooming without a trackpad and annotations aren't perfect.
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I don’t know if it has your full desired feature list, but this is what I use: https://pdfexpert.com/


I’ve seen this recommended but it looks like ownership has recently changed: https://pdfpen.com


And I’ve also wanted to try this out but haven’t had a chance yet: https://www.liquidtext.net

 

I also bring PDFs into a note taking app - Notability - primarily for meetings, so I can take notes (and record) while marking up drawings on Mac or iPad. GoodNotes has a similar feature set without recording.  

 

I’d appreciate your posting what you end up with. 

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On 12/15/2021 at 7:05 AM, Anders Blomberg said:

Is anyone running Bluebeam on their Mac?


Yes, I am, but with one big caveat.
 

The last version release available, Bluebeam Revu for Mac version 2.1, does NOT run on MacOS 11 Big Sur or newer — it crashes immediately on trying to open the app. But the previous older version 1.9.3 does work on MacOS 11 Big Sur. 
 

Note that you can no longer purchase a new seat purchase of Bluebeam Revu for Mac.

 

I have tried other PDF applications on the Mac, but I have not found one which can take measurements the way that Bluebeam Revu can.

Edited by rDesign
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I used to use Bluebeam on the Mac, still use it on the IPad occasionally.  Was a big fan of their products, especially when taking plans and specs to big sites.  But they let us down as typical with the mothership.

 

When I need to measure or markup a pdf now on the computer, I just do it in VWX or Acrobat, depending on the nature of the work.  Bluebeam and similar are effectively dead to me, especially when working on projects that have hosted PM systems being used correctly.

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7 hours ago, rDesign said:


I have both PDF Expert and PDFPen Pro, and neither of them allows you to measure and/or dimension objects / drawings.

So I don't see any reason to use any of these alternatives for Mac over the native Preview.app. What do they provide that Preview.app doesn't?

 

It should also go without saying that Vectorworks is missing a trick here with their own Nomad app. It too can't dimension. It can measure (although I find it doesn't work on my Viewports for some reason) but it can't add these measurements as a dimension markup and it can't draw a manual dimension markup either. We can only sketch them free hand.

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My experience with preview on mac is that annotations are not safed properly in the pdf file. We had a case where we did annotations and filled out the documents in preview and a lawyer that was on Windows and using Acrobat Reader couldn't see anything. We had to redo everything in Adobe again to avoid the issue. Since then I am very careful with annotations in preview. Might be again an Apple propriotary thing.

 

 

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Yes, I've experienced that problem, but I've also experienced it (and other issues like annotations turning 90 degrees) with some of the other options as well, including maybe even Acrobat. Although Acrobat seems to be the most robust of the lot.

 

There's a real gap in the market on macOS since Bluebeam bailed out.

Edited by Christiaan
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12 hours ago, elepp said:

My experience with preview on mac is that annotations are not safed properly in the pdf file. We had a case where we did annotations and filled out the documents in preview and a lawyer that was on Windows and using Acrobat Reader couldn't see anything. We had to redo everything in Adobe again to avoid the issue. Since then I am very careful with annotations in preview. Might be again an Apple propriotary thing.

 

 

 

One of the features that I used most often in Bluebeam Revu for Mac is the ability to Flatten the document, which is what I do right before I send out the PDF. That way the comments & annotations all appear exactly as I want them and you do not have the problem that you described. There is also an Unflatten command.

 

It looks like PDF Studio also has this Flatten / Unflatten functionality, perhaps other PDF applications have this functionality as well. 

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3 hours ago, Andrew Pollock said:

Import pdf's into VW and snap to geometry. works very well.

 

Just gonna add here in my experience, leaving 'snap to geometry' on slows my machine to a crawl, so I ID the points I need snapped to, drop locuses on those, then turn 'snap to…' off.

Edited by mjm
spellcheck did a bad thing
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47 minutes ago, Anders Blomberg said:

Sorry to hear that there doesn't seem to be a good solution out there. @jeff prince I was also considering Bluebeam on the iPad but the ratings for the iPad app are really discouraging. How's it working for you?

It’s ok, not stellar.  Does a good job rendering the line work and such.  Handles big sets of drawings fairly well.  I’ve never been a fan of the GUI.  Taking and placing photos is good, as is measuring real world distances by setting the PDF scale.  Markup tools are ok, but not as fast and easy as paper or making up single sheets in procreate or similar graphics programs.  If you need trackable markups and comments, it is ok.  The file management and transfer is archaic at best, seems they want to sell cloud services to make it work, but my job sites rarely have cell or internet service.  Seems like there is a big opportunity for a developer to do this right and it has been missed by blue beam.

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On 12/16/2021 at 4:09 AM, Christiaan said:

So I don't see any reason to use any of these alternatives for Mac over the native Preview.app. What do they provide that Preview.app doesn't?

 

It should also go without saying that Vectorworks is missing a trick here with their own Nomad app. It too can't dimension. It can measure (although I find it doesn't work on my Viewports for some reason) but it can't add these measurements as a dimension markup and it can't draw a manual dimension markup either. We can only sketch them free hand.

PDFexpert allows you to group multiple PDFs into one PDF--Preview doesn't.

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  • 2 months later...

It does seem something that is missing on mac - something lightweight that allows you to open a PDF, annotate it (including in freehand), and save it as a "flat" file that you know will appear exactly the same at the other end. Even without dimensioning capabilities, it's something I've looked for but so far failed to find. I often find myself opening the PDF in Affinity Designer or Photo, annotating there and then exporting (or even just doing a screenshot). But these apps seem overkill for most tasks.

Edited by line-weight
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