#iPadOnly book » Section 3 - There's an app for that! » Chapter 13 - File Management

Chapter 13 - File Management

You can store your files on the iPad and the cloud seamlessly…

Altogether, the iPad brings this paradigm shift from the files to the apps. However, to ensure compatibility with the rest of the computing world, we do have to deal with the files on the iPad. We’re working with fewer files than in the past, but still a necessary evil. When we talk about ‘file management’, we focus on the three main applications that helped us in our #iPadOnly journey, Dropbox, Evernote and GoodReader.


Things may change and evolve as is everything with technology, but as we write this book, Dropbox is the gold standard for private file sharing and storage. This might change with iOS8 and iCloud drive, but for now, Dropbox is in fact, the king of cloud file storage.

One of the main strengths of Dropbox for an #iPadOnly user, is that many apps use Dropbox as their ‘syncing’ mechanism. Particularly the apps that have their Android, Mac or PC counterparts. That’s what makes Dropbox one of the primary tools to going #iPadOnly. Many apps prefer to sync via Dropbox rather than iCloud. This provides a more universal approach to accessing the information.

Michael on Dropbox:

“When I create files (or retrieve files others send to me), I store them in my Dropbox. I’m paying for additional storage as I want every file I touch to end up in Dropbox.

When a file is in Dropbox, it’s not only available on any device I own (my Mac, iPhone and the Android phone I use to test Nozbe) but I can also easily share it with anyone. I simply tap on the file, tap to share and send a unique email link to the recipient. It’s easier than sending attachments, which may be heavy (i.e. occupy lots of MBs of space). In this way, each file sent from Dropbox is a short email with a link. That’s it. The recipient may then view the file in the browser and optionally download if needed.

I do like the fact that you can ‘star’ a file to make it viewable and accessible offline but I’d also like the ability to download an entire folder for offline access. I hope that’s a future feature of Dropbox.”

Side note: Even after a year of writing this, Dropbox still hasn’t implemented the feature of saving entire folder of files on iOS. Bummer.

Augusto on Dropbox

“Without Dropbox I would not be able to work #iPadOnly. I write in text files that are stored on Dropbox and from there many apps have access to these files (Scrivener on the Mac, for example).

I also use Dropbox to pull photos from my iPad and iPhone as an additional measure of backup until I can sync the pictures with iPhoto on my Mac.”

Final Comments on Dropbox

As mentioned in the beginning of this section, Apple is closing in on Dropbox. With iOS8 it seems that the new thing will be the “iCloud drive” where you’ll be able to access your other apps’ files from within the iCloud. It definitely looks promising and we like the increasing competition in this space. Let’s see what the future brings!


Evernote calls itself ‘your digital brain’ and we must admit it feels like it’s in fact our additional brain, too.

Michael on Evernote

“Thanks to Evernote I’ve simplified my file management! Instead of writing something in a Word document or a text note and saving it as a file, I write it as an Evernote note. Luckily for me, I started using Evernote extensively 2 years prior to switching to the iPad so when I did switch, I had most of my notes already in Evernote. Now, thanks to the iPad, I use it even more.

Three features of Evernote I use extensively on the iPad are ‘the email gateway’, ‘offline notebooks’ and ‘document/business card scanning’.

Thanks to my personal, individual Evernote email address, I can send emails directly to Evernote where they are converted to notes. This way, when I’m processing my email on the iPad, I often just forward it to Evernote. On my laptop, I’d fire up Evernote and create a note in a separate window. Thanks to the limitation of ‘one window at a time’ on the iPad, I learned to use the email gateway. Fast. Clean. Efficient.

Evernote is a free service but you can upgrade to ‘Premium Account’. When you do, you can have notebooks in the Evernote app work offline - meaning - you can access easily all of the notes in these notebooks when your Internet connection is flaky or non-existent. I have several notebooks marked for ‘offline’ viewing - especially the ones with my documents scanned - this way I can access them anytime I want.

Speaking of scanning documents, the latest version of Evernote brought great photo capabilities. Now you can just take a picture of a document and it’ll look like a scanned document… or of a business card and not only will it take a great picture of the card but will also read the person’s info and add to the note… and even find their Linkedin profiles. Very useful when networking on conferences.

There are lots of apps that sync with Evernote and send data to Evernote. I explore these in the future chapters of this book. I’m sending articles, scans, photos, notes, sketches and many other things from many other apps directly to Evernote. Works like magic and makes Evernote my real external brain on the iPad and my central information hub.”

Augusto on Evernote

“Evernote is one of those apps that have been part of my iPad since the early days. I don’t consider myself an Evernote power user. I have played with it many times, but I have never been able to use it for more than a file cabinet.

On my journey to working #iPadOnly, I scan documents and send them to Evernote. I love the fact that Evernote adds OCR technology onto documents, thus making even photos searchable.

Again, Evernote is my digital file cabinet. I don’t want to use a physical file cabinet. I use the iPad and the iPhone to scan all the documents I send them all to Evernote.

That said, I also scan most of my reference material and send it to Evernote (unless I receive them by email in which case I email directly to Evernote). This includes all of my tax related documents. When the time comes to do my taxes for the year I can simply email the notebook to my accountant and she will take care of the rest. She rarely needs the actual paper copy. The scan is simply enough.”

Final Notes on Evernote

Evernote is a very powerful application that can do as much or as little as you need. Even though they offer a free version, the ‘Premium’ version is really worth it. There are people like Brett Kelly (the author of the ‘Evernote Essentials’ ebook) who produced an incredible amount of information on how to get the most out of Evernote, but many of those tricks are beyond the scope of this book.


GoodReader is one of those unassuming applications. It’s easy to underestimate just how powerful it can be. Most people believe it is just a PDF viewer and since the iPad can natively view PDFs, what’s the point? The reality is that GoodReader is an all-in-one file-management app with PDF viewing capabilities.

Michael on GoodReader

“First off, almost every item, in almost every app has an ‘Open in GoodReader’ option. With that option, the file is copied to GoodReader where you can do whatever you want with it. You can view it, annotate it and save it… or just copy it somewhere else. Save to your Dropbox? No problem. Upload to your FTP server? No biggie. Rename it? Move it? GoodReader does it all.

Sometimes I need to send a file to someone, upload it to Dropbox, and upload it to our secure server. GoodReader does all that and more. I call the GoodReader app the central ‘file management’ hub on my iPad, and even though I try NOT to manage too many files on my iPad, this app makes the transition from a PC to a post-PC, #iPadOnly world, a lot easier.”

Augusto on GoodReader

“Working and annotating PDF’s is one of the things that I love about the iPad. It works great and is so easy. Annotate, fill, save it, email it, send it to Dropbox and much more.

You can also send your PDFs to iBooks or the Kindle app but you can’t do anything other than read in these applications. With GoodReader you can do so much more.

I use less than 10% of the capabilities of the application, but I’m so glad I’m able to annotate, sign, fill forms, email or fax them. This makes GoodReader a key application for me.

Actually, before this book was ready I worked on the file and sent it as a PDF to my iPad and made a lot of annotations using GoodReader. It really helped me get the book ready.”

File Management and the #iPadOnly model

Just like we discovered on our #iPadOnly journey that we didn’t use the keyboard as often as we used to, we also realized that we reduced our file management when working on the iPad. In the post-PC world, the #iPadOnly world, files are less and less important as the apps themselves are being used as a means to store information. However, the above mentioned apps help make the transition smooth and help maintain compatibility with the more traditional computing world.

Next Chapter: Chapter 14 - Note taking

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