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The Best PDF Manager You Don’t Know You Have

Most people have a ton of PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files scattered on their hard drives. Most are downloaded from the web, some are receipts of purchases made from the web, some are actual documents created on your computer or sent to you by co-workers. How can you keep track of all of these PDF files?

How about using iTunes? It can mange your PDF files as well as your music and video. On the Mac, in the Finder, create a new “Smart Folder” [File menu, New Smart Folder]. Set the “Kind” to be “PDF” Remove the second rule by clicking the minus on the left. In the top of the window, choose where to search, by default it will search your entire computer. I hit “Others” and added my desktop to the list, then I unchecked the “Computer” option. I hit “OK.” Then hit the “Save” button” and name the search something makes sense (e.g. Desktop PDF) and choose the option to save the search in the Sidebar.

In iTunes, go to the File menu, and choose “Add to Library.” Choose the Saved Search from the sidebar. You should see your PDFs from your desktop. Click in the file list, hit Apple A (or pick and choose the ones you want) and hit the Choose button in the lower right.

In iTunes, then create a smart playlist (File, New Smart Playlist) Match the following rule: “Kind” contains PDF. Hit OK, and you’ll have a new rule that will pull all of your iTunes PDF files into the playlist. You can double click a PDF (it will have a small book icon to the right of the filename) and it will open in your standard PDF reader (Preview usually).

You can edit the Artist and other fields by simply selecting the item, and pressing Apple-I (File, Get Info) and clicking on the Info tab.

I’m not sure how well (if at all) this works under Windows.

(This posting was inspired by the article at LifeHacker: Download of the Day: Yep (Mac).)


  1. Dan says:

    Works perfect in Windows too. It opens in Adobe Reader for me.

  2. […] The Best PDF Manager You Don’t Know You Have: Some tips on how to use iTunes for managing pdf files. A little bit outdatted, but most of the stuff is still relevant. […]

  3. Roy Johnston says:

    Hey, thanks for the advise I’ve been looking for away to manage my PDFs for awhile now, I never would have thought of Itunes.

  4. Gilles says:

    This allowed new dogs (OsX Snow Leopard and Lion) to learn old tricks. Still works like a charm. Thanks a bunch.