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Top 5 iPad PDF medical literature management apps for doctors

Iltifat Husain, MD contributed to this piece.

As doctors and hospitals embrace digital systems, many of us have found ourselves wondering, “what is the best app to manage my pdf library”?

Everyday doctors, students and healthcare professionals read and use PDFs on mobile devices for functions ranging from marking up medical literature to annotating lecture notes in PDF format.

We took a detailed look at a range of PDF literature apps available before and in separate posts. We summarized our findings into one post, and only took the top five PDF management apps we would recommend.

5.  Sente


  • Multiple academic libraries which can be imported in multiple formats such as EndNote and BibTex
  • Sente has an advantage as it automatically syncs any updates, articles, annotations, and changes over the air whenever an internet connection is present
  • Papers can sync wirelessly but it must be connected to the same wireless network as the desktop app
  • The Sente Target icon detects references on webpages in the embedded browser which is supported on a wide range of commonly used sites including Google Scholar, PubMed, Web Of Knowledge, JSTOR among many others
  • Organization of references is accomplished using a combination of tags, statuses, and ratings as well as the more traditional formats such as Author, Journal, Year, and Type
  • Basic PDF annotation tools such as highlighting, comments and basic shapes


Sente is a powerful feature filled app that offers a myriad of functions to manage an academic library. PDFs can be annotated and shared with colleagues, although, the best feature is the automatic syncing over the air which keeps Sente libraries in sync with each other effortlessly. There are a number of limitations such as difficulties importing PDFs from other apps which means Sente will have most utility to clinical researchers and academics alike.

 Sente iTunes Link


Tom Lewis


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9 Responses to Top 5 iPad PDF medical literature management apps for doctors

  1. Tania Gottschalk February 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    What about Mendeley
    Maintain a Library of your PDFs, write and cite using an easy to use plug-in for Word, sync you documents to your iPad or iPhone, collaborate with other researchers around the world. As a medical librarian I have been teaching to our residents. They love it. I believe it is similar to Papers but even better in some of social networking aspects.

  2. Chi February 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Do you have a list like this for apps for Android? I am thinking of getting a Nook Color to root, but am hesitant because the annotation abilities of these ipad apps listed here, especially PDF Expert, seem to be lacking in Android. I could be mistaken, since I don’t own an Android device yet.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD February 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      I believe there are one or two apps available for the Android tablets, but significantly, significantly less number of these types of apps for Android, and I can attest to this due to using a galaxy nexus for the past two months.

      • Chi February 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

        @Iltifat Husain – Thank you for replying to my question. I look forward to any similar reviews for android pdf management options, if imedicalapps should do one. You guys have a great site here. Very useful.

  3. drrjv April 30, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Good Reader was handy last week.

    I was at the American Academy of Neurology in New Orleans and they were distributing course syllabi electronically as zip files from a web link.

    GoodReader downloaded and decompressed the files easily and allowed a backup copy on Dropbox, all while attending the course, so I readily had the outline during the lecture.

    PDF Expert sounds great too. They have the advantage of a universal iPhone/iPad App. Scanner Pro by the same developer is a much used App in my collection too.

  4. Shirl October 11, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Writepdf isn’t even listed here and it syncs smoothly with dropbox, shame :(

  5. bauct December 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Using ZotPad with a Zotero account is an excellent method as well…

  6. sanjaya jha June 29, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    I agree with Tania that this review is not complete without inclusion of Mendeley. It is an extremely powerful, cross platform PDF manager, designed explicitly for scientific and medical literature. I have used it extensively, as I have many of the apps listed here, and have found it to be superb. Very highly recommended!

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