The iPad is a fun and entertaining gadget but, thanks to a range of business apps, you can actually use the iPad to do real work, too. The snag in the system is transferring files to and from your iPad. Let’s face it, cranking up iTunes each time you need a file doesn’t look very professional. Worse still, your network administrator may not let you install iTunes and, even if you can, it only works with a handful of apps.
It doesn’t make sense that the biggest problem with using the iPad for work is its appalling lack of support for transferring files back to a PC. However, to make it easier for you I’ve rounded up some tools and methods for sharing files with the iPad.
Email: Simple and Sure
The simplest way to get files on and off your iPad is to email them to yourself. Most iPad applications offer email as an output method, and you simply append the project or file to an email as an attachment.
By sending the file to yourself, you can access the file from any computer that has access to that email account. You might even set up a free email account with Gmail or some other Web-based email provider for this express purpose. You can then access files from the iPad using nothing more than a browser and an Internet connection.
Even if you use another option for getting data off your iPad, email can provide you with a backup solution in case the other system fails.
The new iCloud/iWork combination that launched in Q3 2011 with iOS 5, thankfully makes iTunes obsolete for sharing files if you are using Numbers, Pages or Keynote on the iPad. Instead, you can use the iCloud/iWork tools to ensure files are available anywhere — and you don’t have to plug your iPad into your computer to use them. By configuring iCloud on a Mac or a PC, you can get access to documents directly from your iPad, and you can upload them, too.
If you’re using a PC, you’ll need to be using the latest version of iTunes and you’ll need to install iOS 5 on the iPad if you haven’t already done so. Then install the iCloud control panel for Windows. On your iPad, configure iCloud in Settings so it will synch documents and data.
You can choose whether to sync using your cellular data plan or only Wi-Fi depending on your circumstances. Then, still in Settings configure Numbers, Pages and/or Keynote to use iCloud — you need to do this for each app individually and it is disabled for each by default.
On the PC, the iCloud application allows you to sync your Photo Stream and Bookmarks, as well as your Calendars and Tasks, Contacts and Mail with Outlook. It doesn’t manage your documents however, for that you need to visit iCloud. Sign in using your Apple ID, and install the browser plug-in if prompted to do so.
This gives you access to the documents, presentations and workbooks from your iPad. The links at the top of the browser page take you to the files you have created in Keynote, Pages and Numbers — these are automatically synced when you create them — you don’t need to do anything additional to set this up. If the files exist in the file list for each of these applications, they’ll appear here, too.