So, you are on the go and need to edit some files? If you have your iPad, the iPad versions of the iWork applications and a Dropbox account, you can easily access, import, edit and deliver files while on the go.
Note: If you don’t have a Dropbox account, go get a free one and thank me later. Also, if you don’t know how to use Dropbox, watch the short video at the Dropbox website and you’ll be up and running in no time.
Now, you won’t be using the Dropbox iPhone app to do this. While Dropbox has a killer iPone app, in my initial testing, I had problems with the iPhone app properly displaying documents on my iPad. So, to accomplish the import, you’ll be accessing your account on the Dropbox website using Safari on the iPad.
Once you have your Dropbox account open in Safari, click on the file you want. On a desktop computer, your browser would either display the file or download it depending on your preferences. On the iPad, mobile Safari displays the file. While the file is displayed, a black bar across the top of the document displays the document title and a button asking whether you want to open the file:
The black bar disappears after a few seconds so simply tap the screen to make it appear again. Tapping the “Open in…” button downloads the file to “My Library” (your library, actually) and displays it in the proper application. From there, you can edit, save, export, etc. While you can’t save it back to your Dropbox account from the iPad, you can send it off to its final destination by email or move it off the iPad when you get back to your computer. Moving files saved on your iPad to your computer and vice versa is a subject we’ll cover later (for those who can’t wait, see this Apple Support article)
Safari is context sensitive to the type of document being opened. So, open a Pages or a .doc file in Safari, and you get “Open in Pages” button. Find a Numbers or .xls spreadsheet, and the button asks “Open in Numbers.” In my tests, the imports from these various formats worked flawlessly. Below is a list of import compatibilities:
I know some small and solo firms that use Dropbox essentially as a server for all firm documents. Note that you can use this tip to pull editable documents from anywhere on the net, not just your Dropbox account. There are products similar to Dropbox that have similar features (I think Box.net is one of them) that should work the same way.
Let us know in the comments how you are managing files on your iPad.