Yep, it is like iTunes for PDFs

by Bruce Stewart

I just discovered Yep, which bills itself as "iTunes for PDFs". And I'm hooked. Like most of us, as the PDF format has continued to get more widespread acceptance, I have been accumulating more and more PDF documents on my mac. They're scattered all over my system, in my mail attachments, in various folders, and I often have a bunch sitting on my desktop at any given time. And far too many of those pesky PDFs that came from some link I clicked on somewhere come across with meaningless filenames.

With Yep, I'll no longer waste much time searching for that particular PDF I need, or wondering what that cryptically-named PDF on my desktop is. Yep does just what it claims to, it provides a friendly interface to all of your PDF documents, with expandable thumbnail views and every possible bit of info and meta-data you could want about them. The Yep interface is simple but powerful, with features like tagging and searching across all of your PDFs.

Yep doesn't copy or move your PDFs like some other similar products, but rather builds a smart interface on top of Spotlight's searching capability. (One potential downside, if Spotlight can't find a PDF on your system because you've restricted what Spotlight indexes, Yep won't see it either).

The real power and convenience of Yep comes from its tagging features. It automatically tags all of your PDFs with the folder name they live in, but it also allows for adding more tags to improve your PDF organization. If you like organizing things by tags and the simplicity of tag clouds, and have been wishing for better system for your PDFs, you should definitely give Yep a try.


2007-05-03 05:29:24
Great article Bruce. I wish I had known about this about a week ago because I just purchased Yojimbo to do a similar thing. I like the tag/tag cloud features maybe the folks at Barebones could build something like this into the next release of Yojimbo.

The only thing that really sounded like a turn off for me though was the fact that it only points to your PDF files. That sounds like it could be a royal pain when moving your PDF's from your desktop to some other folder within your documents folder. When you do this does it/spotlight keep track of that files new home?

2007-05-03 06:18:00
since apeture now handles all my images, iPhoto now has taken over all my pdfs. The print pdf to iphoto buttons works and i get all the benifits of iphoto for sorting and organising, plus can have books printed.
2007-05-03 06:25:01
That's a great tip Don. I didn't even know that feature was there. Are you able to search for words inside the PDF if you send it to iPhoto or does it just capture it as an image?

Thanks - Rob

2007-05-03 06:39:19
Just capture it as an image. But you can keyword it, and title it, and rate it.
2007-05-03 06:48:23
best of all you can use the calender function to find it by date, and you can email them.
2007-05-03 08:29:48
I use Papers ( It can be used to download PDFs directly from the web. It automatically catalogs it for you. Too many wonderful features to describe in comments. Very useful for research. Check this one out. You will be surprised. Another great program from Mek and Tosj.

2007-05-03 08:35:11
Here, here for pages! I love it too. It'll be great when I have to do my Lit. Review: Summarie 30 Journal articles in a month... eek.
Bruce Stewart
2007-05-03 09:17:42
Rob, Yep handles moving your PDFs around with no problem at all. As soon as a PDF's location has changed, it seems to instantly know and reflect the file's new location.
2007-05-03 12:12:53
Try Papers by mekentosj

Neil Chapman
2007-05-03 13:48:27
I looked at Yep awhile back but didn't bite. I can't imagine that it would suit me better than DocumentWallet, which is an iPhoto-like application for PDFs. These PDF managers are a God-send to a Mac-using attorney like me. I will give Yep another look; however, I left DevonThink for DocumentWallet, a killer app that works seamlessly with my new Fujitsu ScanSnap S500M. The developer has already improved DocumentWallet several times, now at version 1.0.6. Those shopping for something like this should definitely give DocumentWallet a look as well. (No connection to the developer other than loving the software!).
2007-05-03 15:40:04
I hate to state the obvious, but because nobody has mentioned it yet, I feel obligated to at least remind everybody, that iTunes stores PDFs. And yes is is EXACTLY like "iTunes for PDF's." :)

And yes it WAS designed to do that. Apple Inc. delivers their digital booklet extras this method as PDFs.
iTunes will store, find, and sort at the blazing speed one is accustomed to with searches their music collection. iTunes can also provide information (Size, Title, Date modified and file location) about the PDF automatically. One can also store metadata in the various ID3 tag fields (Comments, Grouping, Composer etc.) and then display and sort all of those items in iTunes.

With several free utilities (or automator/applecsript) one can also create multiple libraries of PDF's and songs. This is usefull for those that don't like the "You got PDFs in my MP3s. You got MP3s in my PDFs" :) or those people that may want to keep separate PDF libraries for individual clients or projects etc.

Last on the really obvious list, is that it is priced right. FREE !
2007-05-03 19:03:48
I'm with Parr - I've been using iTunes for PDFs for a year or so now, and find it's a great way to organize, search for and access them. There are a couple annoyances, such as no (apparent?) way to put "cover art" on a book so it looks nice in coverflow, but that doesn't bother me very much.
Simon Hibbs
2007-05-04 09:08:06
All we need now is an iTunes for prøn and we're done.
Pedro Melo
2007-05-04 14:15:37
I know that DevonThink is a lot more expensive, but if you can give it a try.

I have abot 3000 documents in it from PDF to Web page snippets and email messages. It's amazingly fast and the See Also feature, to find similar documents, is very very good.

Best regards,

2007-05-06 10:47:32
It is difficult, but not impossible, to keep a large (very large) PDF collection on Mac OS X. Yep crashes, Finder crashes, but applications in other OSs don't (like, KDE), so it can't be the number of files. More the way software handles them.

Yep crashes, and doesn't really allow full text searching (only across titles and meta data).

There is a reason why people who really require systems to provide functioning computing power don't think "Mac" right away. How to really work with your PDFs:

- Name them sensibly. Don't let them stay "0.pdf" or whatever they downloaded as. That you can do on Windows, Linux or OS X.

- Put them into sensibly named folders. Not many, but just a couple. If necessary, duplicate files. Also, this one is platform independent.

- Let your file system (Google Desktop on Windows, Beagle on KDE, Spotlight on OS X) index all of the text while you're asleep. Then you'll have full text searching at your finger tip, right where it belongs. Also, you will find other formats indexed as well. Far more satisfying solution, that one.

- Finder crashes upon Spotlight / window handling, but you can still use the terminal, and type the mdfind -only command.

That's it, then you'll find all of them. No additional software required. No particular OS required, anyone will do :-)

2007-05-09 17:13:58
swisswuff: I've never had any problems with the Finder or Spotlight crashing when working with PDFs. If you're experience such a large number of crashes, it could be that your system is hosed. I can't say that my experience has been at all like yours.
2007-05-25 09:45:51
One issue that needs to be addressed is that of setting metadata when building and delivering a PDF as part of a Podcast. When the file is downloaded it always pops up in music along with the feed in the Podcasts dir. I've tried everything to get the tags set properly so that when coming down from a feed that it stays in the Podcast directory only. Anyone found a nice way to set this perameter?