If you’re someone who does a lot of work on the road, and needs to reference PDF source material, you’ll find that QuickSearch PDF (US$4.99) from Olive Toast Software is the tool you didn’t realize you needed. It has one job to do — to help you find information inside large PDF files — and it does that job well.

You type search terms into a text field, and QuickSearch PDF finds every occurrence, in every document that’s been added to it. It lets you flip through each match until you find just the information you need. It’s a great way of finding information for someone who wants to search, read, and get the heck on with their life.

As the name suggests, those searches are extra fast but it’s the interface design that shines. QuickSearch PDF lets you tap arrows on each side of the screen to flip from one match to the next, always showing the PDF content in context. You can also scan your finger along the page index at bottom of the screen to move rapidly through all the hits.

Once indexed, searching is super-fast. It can take some time to index large files, so prepare to be patient when loading new PDFs. Getting those files indexed can take several minutes.

Unfortunately, the search field is also the field used to show indexing progress, so while you can search as it indexes (you’ll only find matches in the already-indexed material), you won’t be able to see how close the indexing is to being done unless you clear the search field.

Another small criticism is that you can’t set where the indexing starts. If you’re on a business call and you need to access elements towards the end a non-indexed book, you’d do better pulling that PDF into iBooks. Once indexed, QuickSearch PDF provides a far better search experience but for material that you’re waiting on processing, it can be quite slow. That’s a minor quibble, because I can’t imagine that the number of times you’ve loaded a new file and have to wait for it to finish indexing pops up all that often.

The only way to load documents at this time is to drop them into iTunes or use “Open in” from another app. And if you already have ten other PDF reader apps (as I do), the Open In option may not show QuickSearch PDF as an option (See Open Radar for details of why this is an unacceptable iOS bug. Submit your bug report to Apple).

QuickSearch PDF does not yet support external APIs like Dropbox or Google Drive. The developer tells me that he’s planning to add this support in soon. I look forward to that because I’d much rather drop files into Dropbox and do my management from there.

Those issues aside, QuickSearch PDF is a terrific app, and one I wish were available on OS X as well. The app fully gets how people want to quickly find and use information. This app isn’t about book reading — it’s about locating details quickly, effectively, and simply. It does that, and it does it well.

QuickSearch PDF Reader provides powerful fast text searches originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 21 May 2012 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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