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Gmail adds a PDF viewer

December 18, 2008

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As of December 12, everyone's (OK, well, my) favorite web-based email client has officially added fast PDF viewing to its bag of tricks. This functionality is not entirely new, of course. As Google Software Engineer, Marc Miller's official blog post notes, the PDF viewer in question was already available as part of Google Docs. Nevertheless, its integration into Gmail was both a nifty addition and a natural evolution of the technology.

The new feature will add a "View" link each time Gmail recognizes a PDF attachment. According to Miller's blog post:

Clicking "View" quickly opens the PDF inside your browser, complete with the graphics and formatting you expect to see in a PDF. ... If you want, you can still view in plain HTML from a link at the top of the new viewer. And if you want to download, save, and view your PDFs later while offline using client software, you can still do that by hitting the "Download" link.

Loading times will be (relatively) brief using the lightweight PDF viewer. The viewer also allows for rapid, page-based navigation and features a built-in zoom function that smoothly scales text. According to CNET's Josh Lowensohn, zoomed text scales far more elegantly than it does when using browser-based text resizers. In any case, to try out the new PDF viewer, simply log in to Gmail and open a PDF attachment.

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