Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

2153

April 11, 2010 • How to Do It Yourself!

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

Having been one of the people in my social circle to have an iPad, I have been answering a lot of questions for others who don’t have an iPad, or that can’t be answered by playing with one directly. One of the most frequent questions I get is “How do you load PDFs (and other personal documents) onto the iPad?” If you look at the iPad by itself without a computer running iTunes, you can only explain this verbally. And it’s not the most intuitive process (in fact, not very Apple-like). So, rather than re-answer the same question multiple times, let’s just go through it here with images stepping through the process…

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

In this post, I’m going to go over how to put content onto your iPad. In a subsequent post, I will explain the various methods for viewing PDF files on the iPad, followed up by another post comparing a printed page to the iPad viewing PDF and ePub books.

When the iPad was announced and the iWork applications were discussed, it was mentioned that you could copy your own content onto the iPad for viewing and editing. I was hoping we would have the ability to have a portion of the iPad’s storage set aside as a USB mass storage device so I could simply copy and paste content onto the iPad. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.

Each application can state whether it can handle documents, and those applications have their own, separate data storage area. The main way that Apple provided to copy content into an application’s data storage is via iTunes. Only if an application has explicitly stated that it can handle document types will iTunes make it available for copying content. To make matters more complex, you can only copy files in when the iPad is connected, and files are copied real-time onto the iPad. There is no way to “stage” content to copy on once you connect the iPad.

First, you must connect your iPad to your computer and launch iTunes. Select your iPad from the Devices section on the left-hand pane, and then click on the Apps tab:

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

Scroll to the bottom of the window (I know, very intuitive, right?):

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

Choose a particular application from the list and click on the Add… button, which brings up a file picker dialog:

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

Once you’ve chosen your files, click the Choose button:

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

iTunes will then show the files in the list for that particular application, and it will automatically sync the files to the iPad, even if a backup is currently going on.

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

You can also choose a file from the application’s list and click the Save to… button and save it back to your computer if you happened to edit or create a file on your iPad.

But… How do you delete a file? Click on it and hit the delete key on your computer. Then you’ll get a dialog box asking if you want to remove the selected item:

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

Once you’ve done this one time, it’s not that difficult. It’s just a bit unintuitive and not very Apple-like.

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

Another method to get files into an application is for the application itself to provide an in-application way to download or create content. Those documents also appear in that application’s document/file list. For example, the GoodReader PDF application allows downloading of content from a variety of online sources.

So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad?

I understand the need to use iTunes as a conduit to get your content onto the iPad. That’s how you put your music, videos, audiobooks, and other content onto your iPod and iPhones, so why not do this for the iPad as well? Well, unlike the rest of the content, the documents are only available to a particular application and have to be copied on real-time. iTunes doesn’t actually manage that content for you – it’s not even stored in your iTunes library anywhere, like other content. Even if you load your own ePub eBooks for use in the iBooks application, it gets a dedicated tab in iTunes and the content is stored within your iTunes library. I hope that this helps explain the document copying process!

34 Responses to " So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents onto the iPad? "

  1. gbmiii [ff] – So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://ow.ly/172E4B

  2. McGeneral says:

    gbmiii [ff] – So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://ow.ly/172E4A

  3. topsy_top20k says:

    So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://goo.gl/fb/SLaRH

  4. geardiary: So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto iPad? – http://bit.ly/aFFh8G

  5. So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://bit.ly/9MjMrM via http://topicfire.com/Gadget

  6. Maecvs says:

    RT @GearDiarySite: So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://goo.gl/fb/SLaRH

  7. RT @GearDiarySite: So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://goo.gl/fb/SLaRH

  8. RT @applenewswatch: geardiary: So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto iPad? – http://bit.ly/aFFh8G

  9. abitnerdy says:

    I was just wondering this, it seems a bit round about 🙁 I hope Apple comes up with a more efficient manner. Thanks for being psychic and answering a question I’ve been wondering ahha! 🙂

  10. Haesslich says:

    Clear as mud.

    It looks like Apple forgot what made iTunes and iPod take over the market- and it wasn’t by making it hard to do things or going through multiple arcane steps, a la Microsoft.

    I really hope the interface thing gets fixed soon; if this is how I’m supposed to add documents… either that, or they’re intentionally being difficult so people buy everything they already own through iBooks.

  11. So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://goo.gl/fb/BqmrV

  12. pdhamilton says:

    The Air Sharing HD app has worked great for me. It lets you mount your iPad as a wireless drive and you can simply drag-and-drop to transfer files between your iPad & your computer. I also allows you to open files in Pages, Keynote & Numbers if you have any of those apps installed.

    You can also use it to access files from Mobile Me, you email accounts, etc.

    It’s $9.99, but has been on of my most-used apps for my iPad.

    You can get it here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/air-sharing-hd/id365541415?mt=8

  13. Thomas R. Hall says:

    @Haesslich Your own ePub books import in fine and are managed through iTunes via a dedicated Books section (just like Music, Videos, etc.). It’s just other documents that aren’t so easy.

    @pdhamilton Air Sharing is a great app, but it’s not built-in, and I really hope the user experience for file transfer improves system-wide.

    • Haesslich says:

      Of course, the PDF’s (which I expect the iPad to be excellent at, and which will be -really- useful at college where they’re targeting this) aren’t managed through iBooks… and aren’t going to be easy to import through iTunes, which means those digital textbooks they were talking about promoting won’t be easily done.

      Did Apple actually take the time to do one of their vaunted (and ultimately successful) ergonomic studies, or else actually spend time using the feature they’re advertising, or did they throw this in as a last-minute addition?

  14. Thomas R. Hall says:

    @abitnerdy Too funny. You didn’t know we read your thoughts now? 🙂

  15. I have had several people ask how to get their own files and documents onto the iPad. See my @geardiarysite post: http://bit.ly/drhnBH

  16. AYI DEL says:

    RT @geardiary: So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? http://bit.ly/dpI30q

  17. David Sundah says:

    Rumitnya copy dokumen & baca di iPad krn tergantung dgn iTunes: http://bit.ly/9VbiaW But this is apple made device, so it must be good, yes?

  18. ramfrancis says:

    So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? – http://bit.ly/8X2vIT

  19. Christopher Gavula says:

    It’s kind of funny because I actually found myself liking this option. I like that there is a single, consistent way to get documents into applications on the iPad. AirSharing only worked with some apps (at least on the iPhone) and other apps, like Good Reader, each have their own methods for loading/unloading documents. These different methods can get to be confusing to remember. So I like the iTunes method because you aren’t dependent on different techniques for different applications – you have one set of techniques that works across the board.

    I also like that It makes it very clear which documents belong to which application. Odd how different things like this strike people differently! The only part I found a little dysfunctional was the deletion part. Having to KNOW to hit the delete key is a little annoying but I don’t recall if you mentioned that you can also simply delete it from within the application on your iPad and when you sync, that will be reflected in the document list in iTunes as well. I think that’s easier than trying to delete within iTunes.

    Anyway, the thing I found really interesting is that the document is synced to your iPad as soon as you select it. It does NOT wait for a regular sync to happen.

    • Haesslich says:

      Of course, the way it loads it into EACH application individually instead of giving them all access to a central storage area seems backwards to me. If I can use a single app like TuneWiki to check my iPod’s database (since it’s using some built-in program calls to access it), then why can’t I do the same thing with GoodReader or some other document reading program? Or letting my Stanza and iBooks applications read from the same central database? Or Documents to Go going to the same spot for my Excel files?

      This all still seems a tad dysfunctional, especially as it’s complicating things compared even uploading books into iBooks. Is it that hard to put a ‘Documents’ link on the left side, the way you already have Ringtones, Applications, Music, Videos, and Books?

  20. Rick Barnes says:

    So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad … http://bit.ly/cFCpTI

  21. Bruce Keener says:

    Seeing lots of good articles on @geardiarysite such as this one from my buddy @trhall http://bit.ly/drhnBH Great work Judie and Thomas!

  22. Ian Spicer says:

    Itunes – So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad …: iTunes doesn't actually manage that con… http://bit.ly/8ZGd0i

  23. "So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad?" http://bit.ly/8X2vIT

  24. Shaz says:

    @craigmullins So How DO You Actually Load Your Own Documents Onto the iPad? « Gear Diary http://bit.ly/cdMVou

  25. […] One thing I would have liked to have seen in this book is better coverage of additional apps that are available for the iPad. The last chapter does highlight a few apps, but the coverage is spotty and the number of apps discussed is minimal. For example, the author discusses the GoodReader app as a way to read PDF files on the iPad. I agree, this is a very good app. But I guarantee most users will be befuddled as to how to get the PDF files into their iPad. This would be useful information that Wang should have included in the book. (For those interested, check out the description of how to do it here.) […]

  26. Are iFanatics shaping the future of the Web? says:

    […] in like a flash drive and load your Microsoft Word files, MP3 music, and videos? Nope, not without a lot of steps in the way. You have to go through Apple’s bloated iTunes software (which I originally thought was […]

  27. John Dogherty says:

    Can you use a usb female to female connector to copy content from a pendrive to/from the iPad?

  28. Tom_heaton1989 says:

    I just want to have iTunes on my iPad and I want to be able to play videos online and have a USB. I should of looked into all this before I spent all my savings when my laptop broke down 🙁

  29. faye says:

    thank you this was very helpful, i needed to get my “pathoma” videos on my ipad so i dont have to take my heavy laptop everywhere, which stalls when i move it too much, so thank you.

  30. Jim Raynor says:

    Visuals are much appreciated. The iTunes version I just downloaded had the sidebar hidden. Other “how-to”s only talked about the sidebar, leaving me lost. Only when you showed me what I was supposed to have did I go looking for it. Thank you!

Leave a Reply