LiquidText for the iPad: complete review

LiquidText is a PDF reader by LiquidText Inc, that is available for iPadOS, macOS, and Windows. It has a complex pricing system on the iPad, which includes a Pro version for a one-time purchase of $39.99, and several subscription packages.

LiquidText versionNormal priceFor studentsDeveloping countries
LiquidText Pro
(paid major updates)
$39.99 once$19.99 once$9.99 once
LiquidText Live$7.99/month, billed annually
$9.99/month, billed monthly
$3.99/month, billed annually
$4.99/month, billed monthly
$3.99/month, billed annually
$5.99/month, billed monthly
Live Unlimited$14.99/month, billed annually
$17.99/month, billed monthly
 $7.99/month, billed annually
$9.99/month, billed monthly
$4.99/month, billed annually
$7.99/month, billed monthly
A breakdown of LiquidText pricing

LiquidText is the only app we’ve encountered so far that has pricing for developing countries. This review focuses on the Live Unlimited version of the app on the iPad. This package unlocks all the features in the app, which is why we are focusing on this one.

New projects 

Every new project in LiquidText starts with importing documents, web pages or photos. LiquidText converts .doc, .ppt, photos and webpages to PDF before adding them to your projects. You can add as many resources as you need, to your project. However, you can only view a maximum of three documents at a time. Your resources can be arranged one above the other, or side-by-side (depending on your preference).

Notes canvas

Most PDF readers, especially with note-taking apps, limit you to just annotating the PDF itself. But, LiquidText, gives you an infinite canvas for taking your notes, right next to your resources. LiquidText is an excellent research tool for the iPad.

You can now customise your canvas to your preferences. The only problem is that you have to make the changes each time you create a workspace. Your canvas can either be on the right or left side of your screen, as well as below your resources. You can resize the screen portion canvas and also zoom in on it.

Annotation tool

In LiquidText, you can annotate your PDF or take notes on the canvas using several tools. The annotation tool selects text in your PDF, so you can do the following:

  • comment
  • highlight
  • tag
  • extract it to the notes canvas.

The notes you extract to the canvas remain editable. You can, therefore, rewrite the notes if you like. Your editing options let you format the text to make it more outstanding. You can make it bold, italic, underlined or strikeout. You can also change the font size and colour (from limited options, though). On the notes canvas, the annotation tool creates text boxes with similar text-editing features to those for the text you extract.

Whether it’s your extraction or text box, you can change their colour. For a minimalist look, this can be subtle, affecting only the left edge of the text box. To make them stand out, you can make changes to the entire box.

Writing tools

The pen tool in LiquidText has an impressive accurate representation of handwriting. Writing in the app feels natural and smooth. It’s one of the best handwriting experiences we’ve encountered on the iPad. Ideally, you handwrite notes on the notes canvas. The pen tool has eight fixed sizes and a preset colour palette. For a PDF reader, that is more than enough.

The straight pen tool doesn’t have a lot of shape-drawing capabilities. You can only draw straight lines with it. Bearing in mind that this is a research tool, that is probably all you’ll need.

The highlighter in LiquidText is similar to what you get in simple PDF readers. It makes information stand out. However, for this research app, the highlighter doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. That is made worse because it looks terrible on the notes canvas.

Wherever there is a pen tool, you need an eraser. The one in LiquidText has no customisation options whatsoever, which makes it the simplest eraser we have encountered in any app so far.

Lasso tool

The lasso tool selects everything on the notes canvas. It is not very accurate, though. In LiquidText, it tends to skip items or pick up what you don’t want. It can be frustrating when you need to move things around to create room for new notes.

It is, however, possible to avoid needing the lasso tool for most of your work in the app. The notes canvas is infinite, so you can link ideas no matter how far apart they are. It is not ideal, but it’s an acceptable workaround. The lasso tool also lets you edit multiple items at once.

OCR

OCR in LiquidText is limited to character recognition and interaction with scanned documents. We love that you can edit the text in extractions you get from your scans.

Workspaces

You can have multiple canvases in one project. LiquidText lists all your resources on the left side of the screen and your canvases on the right. You can organise your workspaces however you like, even nesting them if you must.

Linking ideas

Your pen tool does more than just write notes and annotations, in LiquidText. It can also extract PDF sections as images (these are not always the best quality, though). It also helps to create links between ideas, which helps keep everything connected.

All the extractions you create in LiquidText can link back to the exact place you took them in your different resources. Though the app lacks bookmarks, you can use the pen tool to ‘bookmark’ different sections of your notes. It’s a decent workaround.

You can copy links to different items in LiquidText for use in other apps or projects. For example, you can copy the link to an extraction, comment, and notes canvas. This takes your research outside the app, but it remains easy to refer back to it from anywhere on your iPad.

Search tool

You can search through your resources or notes. For both, you can either search the current resources/canvas or all the ones in your project. The results for your documents are easier to navigate. By simply pinching a document, you can bring all the results together without scrolling through all the pages in the PDF. We love it!

On the canvas, comments, excerpts, and text boxes with your searched term pop out against a dark background. They are easy to spot but not that easy to navigate for a massive canvas. PDF readers don’t search through your handwritten annotations. ‘Tis a shame!

Exporting

Exporting notes out of LiquidText is tedious. As a general rule, documents reviewed in LiquidText best stay in LiquidText. However, there are some options worth noting. LiquidText lets you export your excepts, comments and highlights as a .docx document. It’s a feature most researchers will appreciate. You can also send your annotations to the original PDF, which is a feature we have only seen in LiquidText only so far.

PROS

  • infinite canvas for notes
  • sync across devices
  • available on Windows
  • link all ideas
  • save annotations to the original PDF.

CONS

Verdict

LiquidText is a formidable research tool for the iPad, but it comes with a lot of issues that will annoy you almost every time you use the app. Syncing across devices has been the worst feature our developers have released so far. It doesn’t work 99% of the time, yet that’s mostly why they introduced a subscription for the app.

LiquidText still does not have a redo icon. In 2023, that is also unacceptable. When you undo something by mistake, you’ll hate using the app. The app has no auto backup that you can control, which is a massive flaw. I love all the things I can do in LiquidText, but I hate how the app frustrates me sometimes and that I am stuck with it. As crazy as that is, I’ve found myself coming back to use LiquidText because no app’s quite like it.

Scroll to Top