Thoughts on Google Docs PDF Support

It's no secret that I love the cloud and try to keep all of my data in it. So when Google announced that they added PDF support a few weeks ago, I was listening. Last night I had the bright idea to move my treasured PDFs from my S3 account to Google Docs, where I would easily be able to read them with Google's built-in preview and access the original files. Furthermore, I figured Google would have tied in PDF support with Google Gears, which allows users to put Google Docs to work even when offline.

Google Docs PDF Preview

PDF support in Google Docs seems to be lackluster at best. While I am fully aware they did not aim to include PDF editing for whatever reason, that's fine with me - just being able to easily read PDFs is enough. Unfortunately, Google didn't even get that part right.

  • The PDF preview mode of Google Docs doesn't include any sort of zoom functionality, so you're left reading your PDF at an uncomfortable size.
  • Google Gears does not allow you to access PDFs in offline mode.
  • PDF search will tell you that there are 314 matches for "ruby" in your PDF but it will let you figure out on which pages those matches are. It would be nice to have a list view for search matches, like OS X Preview.
  • The preview mode stops caring after 100 pages and won't display anything more.
  • Embedded links within PDFs are not clickable.
  • PDFs not viewable in the Google Docs mobile interface.

I want to use Google Docs as an online media hub to store and view various files online without having to download the original and tinker with it locally but that dream will have to wait.

Have you tried uploading a PDF to Google Docs? Do you use Google Docs regularly?

Paul StamatiouPaul Stamatiou

Paul Stamatiou is a designer, developer and photographer living in New York. He has been a product designer at Twitter since 2013. More »

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"Thoughts on Google Docs PDF Support" by @Stammy