What is Literal?

Literal is:

  • A browser-based & cloud-connected PDF reading application with a minimal user interface designed to let you focus on what you're reading.
  • A Chrome extension and a Firefox add-on that replaces your browser's default PDF reader with Literal.
  • A digital librarian that archives and performs optical character recognition on the documents you view.
  • A reading activity tracker that monitors your progress and habits.
Why would I want to use Literal?

Literal is designed to greatly enhance your reading experience.

You may want to use Literal if you are unsatisfied the interface of your internet browser's built-in PDF reading application or even system level readers like Adobe Reader. Additionally, Literal also contains many features that other readers lack, such as integrations with popular cloud storage providers like Google Drive and Dropbox and optical character recognition (OCR) support.

You may want to use Literal to automatically maintain your PDF document library. Literal will keep track of and archive documents that you discover while browsing online as well as documents you open from your device or cloud storage providers. Your Literal Library is automatically synced between your devices, so you can access your documents from anywhere. You can use this feature in a variety of ways, from forming "Read Later" lists, to making sure you never lose access to an important or otherwise difficult to find documents.

You may want to use Literal for its reading analytics and activity tracker. Literal keeps track of what documents you opened and how long you spent reading them. This data is displayed on the dashboard in a heatmap visualization as well as a raw activity log.

How do I use Literal?

Using Literal is easy and involves just a couple of steps:

  1. Set Literal as your browser's default PDF reader by installing the Chrome extension or Firefox add-on.
  2. Sign up for a Literal account in order to archive your library and track your reading activity.
  3. Browse the internet normally. The next time you open a PDF in your browser, it will open in Literal.
  4. View your Dashboard to view the documents you've opened and your reading activity.
What is Optical Character Recognition?

Optical character recogition (OCR) is the conversion of images of typed or printed text into the actual text it represents.

PDF documents are often scans of physical documents, and therefore contain only images of the text on its pages. These documents can not be searched and the "text" cannot be selected or copied.

Once Literal applies optical character recognition to a scanned document, a real text layer is applied. You can then search the document and select and copy its text.

What data does Literal collect?

Literal collects the minimum amount of data required to provide its features.

In practice, this means that Literal will collect data and metadata derived from the documents you open. We take a copy of the PDF document itself and store it in a private and encypted storage solution in order to enable access to it from other devices. The PDF document is completely private and only available to devices associated with your account. Metadata collected includes datapoints like the title, author, and cover image of documents.

Additionally, Literal collects data on your reading activity in order to provide reading analytics. This includes datapoints like what documents you read and how much you read them.

Are my documents shared with other people or services?

Your documents are completely private and available only to you - they are only visible in your library, and only accessible from your account. Literal will not sell, share, or otherwise make these documents available to other users or services.

Is my reading activity shared with other people or services?

Your reading activity is completely private and available only to you. Literal will not sell, share, or otherwise make this data available to other users or services.

Why does Literal request permission to "Read and change all your data on the websites you visit"?

This permission is required by the browser extension in order to detect when you're attempting to open a PDF document in your browser. If Literal detects that you are, action is taken to open that document in Literal instead of the default browser behavior.

Literal does not read, change, or otherwise inspect any data on the websites you visit other than the browsing metadata required to determine if you are navigating to a PDF document.

Is Literal free?

Literal is free to use to read PDF documents and make use of core library management and activity tracking features.

Literal's free Basic plan is supported by the display of non-intrusive advertisements on your Dashboard. Literal will never disrupt your reading experience with advertisements, and will never display "pop-up" or otherwise intrusive advertising. Users that do not wish to see advertising should consider upgrading to the ad-free Plus plan.

Why should I upgrade to the Plus plan?

Users on the Plus plan have unlimited access to documents in their Library instead of the 30 day age limit for Basic plan users. Additionally, Plus plan users do not see advertisements.

Can I cancel a Plus plan subscription?

You can cancel your Plus plan subscription at any time by downgrading to the Basic plan from your account page.

What does "Advertisement supported" mean?

Free users on the Basic plan will see non-intrusive advertisements on their Dashboard. Literal will never disrupt your reading experience with advertisements, and we will never display pop-ups or other types of intrusive advertising.

What does "30 day library history" mean?

Free uers on the Basic plan will only be able to open documents in their Library added in the last 30 days. Free users will still be able to see older documents in their Library and will be able to open the older documents again when they upgrade to a paid plan.

What does "OCR" mean?

Optical character recogition (OCR) is the conversion of images of typed or printed text into the actual text it represents. PDF documents are often scans of physical documents, and therefore contain only images of the text on its pages. These documents can not be searched and the "text" cannot be selected or copied. Once Literal applies optical character recognition to a scanned document, a real text layer is applied. You can then search the document and select and copy its text.