iOS Safari’s Reader View… when will it support PDF?

iOS Safari Reader ViewAnd who might beat Apple and Adobe to it?

It’s pretty easy to visualize what support for tagged PDF on mobile devices might look like, because the feature already exists in iOS’s default Safari browser. Unfortunately, as of February 2015 it only works for some web (HTML) pages, and not yet PDF.

By leveraging the logical structures of tagged PDF, Reader View could work just the same way for PDF documents.

For many users, especially those who have difficulty reading PDF files in a fixed layout, extending Reader View to use tagged PDF would revolutionize their experience.

Beyond Reader View’s current functionality, which is limited to presenting the body text on HTML pages,  tagged PDF could be leveraged to deliver a rich, highly navigable experience of a PDF document’s content, with text and navigation optimized to the user’s needs.

For example, software developers would be free to apply the TAdER guidelines to PDF viewers, allowing users to make adjustments in font, size, color, leading, character spacing and more.

Since it’s a PDF, the user would always be able to “drop back” to the original document’s page layout if needed.

As applications like pdfGoHTML and VIP Reader already prove, tagged PDF provides both the original document and a fully customizable extraction of that document’s contents. Where users need it most, however, is on mobile devices.

Let’s hope developers will respond to US Access Board’s adoption of PDF/UA with these sorts of innovations!

Demonstrating how Reader View reflows the page.


  1. February 24, 2015 at 09:51

    I’d love that sort of feature to (even without an accessibility issue) but I’m sceptical it could work well enough on enough PDFs.

    I’ve tried Acrobat’s re-flow feature on quite a few PDFs, and a lot of them become un-readable. I don’t think it is purely a lack of tagging either, as some tagged PDFs (with complex layouts) didn’t work. Given that people usually use a PDF to create a more complex layout than they could on their (probably CMS driven) website, I’d guess the success rate would be low.

    If the acrobat feature isn’t reliable, there is little chance of it working for others.

  2. March 1, 2015 at 17:38

    Hi Alastair,
    Acrobat’s Reflow feature does not use tags, so it’s not a meaningful comparison with a tagged-PDF enabled “Reader View” option.
    pdfGoHTML and VIP Reader already provide that a “Reader View” solution based on Tagged PDF would work just fine on tagged PDF files.

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