File management?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by marc55, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. marc55, Jan 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012

    marc55 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2011
    I'm looking to understand how I can manage afiles on the ipad, and transfer files between my computer and the ipad. My computer knowledge is based on MS Windows environment.

    Since I'm reading that MS Office will have an app soon for the ipad, I would want to transfer some word, and excel documents between my computer and the ipad.

    Can you create folders on the ipad for these files, or do I need an app to do that?

    I understand there's an app called Dropbox, and would appreciate if you guys could explain how it works.

    Couldn't I simply plug into my computer from the ipad and transfer files that way?

    Could I use itunes to store and transfer MS office files?

    Can I email pictures and files from/to the ipad, and can I save them to the ipad? What's the easiest way? Do I need an app? If so, what's the best one?

    How about pictures?

    Your insight in helping me understand files management on the ipad is greatly appreciated. Thank you
  2. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    Welcome to the world of Apple.

    You are not allowed to set up folders to keep documents in. One of the MOST HATED thngs about my iPhone and iPad. 64gb of space for nothing!:mad:

    Apple allows to to kepp music and pictures via iTunes but the files are worked over and you do not have the original image file to work with.

    Drop box is the best. look at and they will explain all.
  3. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    Wow ....There are so many ways to do this. You can just jailbreak and use iFile( you can create folders too) which also has wifi transfer ability. Or you can use Winscp from your desktop. (This is what I do most).

    Without being jailbroken .... Dropbox is the easiest dummy proof solution for transferring or syncing files back n forth. Just install Dropbox on your PC and iPad, then you just drag n drop files into your Dropbox folder on your PC and it will show up on the Dropbox app on the iPad. Same thing vice versa. Also some apps like USB disk and some document apps allow you to drag n drop files into iTunes then it syncs.

    With Pics ..... On Windows, you can simply drag n drop pics into the pics folder. If you don't see a pop up when you connect your iPad, just click computer and the iPad storage should be visible. Easiest way to also drag pics and vids on your iPad to PC.

    When Emailing pics you must select the option to email from the pic first. you can't start the email first. Stupid I know. There's most likely a jailbreak tweak for that.
  4. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    I have developed my own file system solution for the iPad. Given my usage pattern (see my signature...) this is crucial for me. And yes Dropbox lives at its heart. Here's what I do...

    I still retain a household iMac as a central hub for storage and syncing. I also consider it a backup repository for all my files/documents.

    I set up a pointer on my iMac between Dropbox and my Documsnts folder. This gets the iMac and dropbox in constant sync. I assume there's a way to do the same in Windows.

    Then, on the iPad, I use a (paid) service call dropDAV which allows WebDAV access to Dropbox. Dropbox may offer this natively at some point. Until then, this works well. DropDAV allows me to easily get files in and out of productivity apps like iWork Pages.

    For Pages. Download a file from Dropbox (through pages WebDAV interface). Make some tweaks and changes. Save it back to Dropbox (again through Pages WebDAV interface). Said revised file also gets synced/backed up to the iMac.

    The Dropbox app itself is not all that powerful. For example, you can't rename files directly within it. For that I use Goodreader, which is like the Swiss army knife of iPad apps. Can't do without it really. But it can talk to Dropbox and give greater flexibility.
  5. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    As the responses above suggest, there are workarounds for the absence of a common file system accessible by multiple applications in iOS. Are they PITAs? Yup. So why would Apple do such a dumb thing?

    Two answers. First, Apple has a long standing "philosophy" that decrees users should not have to be concerned with where and how data are stored. The idea is that a user should have to know only what they want to do, not how to access specific data stores. Thus, data storage is placed firmly under the control of the application that controls the data.

    If you're accustomed to a Windows OS you'll be familiar with the "dot suffix" on files that enable only some apps to open a file (e.g. .docx). As a user, you can suppress the display of that suffix. Apple simply takes that philosophy one step further. It places a file firmly under the control of an app. Delete the app and you delete the data. (Usually.)

    Second, and more importantly, the iOS approach provides a strong barrier to viruses and other malware infecting the device. Because data cannot be "just sitting" in the file system with access from multiple applications, it means that the likelihood that a virus can "escape" and infect other apps is considerably diminished. Thus, Apple's widespread reputation for being "immune" to viruses and malware. (Not completely true, of course, but also not without some justification.)

    The user does pay a price for this protection, primarily in the difficulty of sharing a single file among multiple apps. i.e. Each app has its own copy of a file. But Apple is very unlikely to change its approach and to cease fighting jailbreaking attempts that open their devices to potential harm.
  6. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    Well said (though I would counter that my workaround is not a pita once in place).

    To me the biggest drawback in Apple's approach is one of organizational style and approach. I like my documents stored by topic, not file type. For example, a folder filled with stuff about, say, my home. It might contain PDF scans of receipts and mortgage closing documents, excel spreadsheets tracking repairs or expenses, word documents of letters to the town assessor, photos from an insurance claim, etc. No way to do that with Apple-provided solutions.
  7. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    I agree that your solution is a good one given the constraints imposed by Apple's design. And like you, my organizational bias is toward subject matter rather than access method. (I grew up in a Unix environment where "folder," (i.e "directory") management and file "linking" provided a very flexible organizational structure.)

    I would not even try to reorganize my life (represented by many gigs of files) into the approach dictated by the iPad. But I also wouldn't try to use the iPad to manage my personal and work life for many other reasons. As a portable (and mainly temporary) repository of information I need for a specific purpose, I can use Dropbox easily. And I do appreciate the fact that I can largely ignore the need for virus protection on the iPad, in part because of the Apple design.

    All design is a matter of satisfying priorities and making compromises. Apple's approach is (imo) a good one for most consumers working with relatively limited data stores on a portable device. The fact that it fails to meet more stringent requirements is just a compromise that one either accepts or not.
  8. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    iPad apps such as GoodReader can do that.
  9. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    Agreed. I this regard I may be trying to shoehorn something in which doesn't quite "belong" or fit the criteria set out in Apple's choices (compromises) but so be it. I find the overall user experience and convenience of the iPad to be so far superior to that of an MBP or MBA that for me there's no going back!

    If you look through my post above you'll see the file system work around I've developed and works very well. Goodreader can't (easily) sync with a complete Documents folder on a Mac, nor can it you open documents which reside in Goodreader WHILE in iWork apps. You can do both of those things with my 'system.'
  10. macbookman83 macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2011
    New York
    I'd personally use dropbox but now there are a mulitude of cloud services that are available.
  11. Stealthipad, Jan 24, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012

    Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    Dropbox is great and I have used it for several years, BUT there are times when i am not on WiFi and do not use 3G to access Dropbox and want to have my files set up in a folder on my iPad.

    It pisses me and others off that Apple refusE to do it when it would be so simple. Things like this will always keep iOS a restricted landscape. :mad:
  12. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    Dropbox does store files for offline usage. You can select a set storage size from 100MB to 1GB in the Dropnox settings. I think it's set to 500MB by default.
  13. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    How does this work on the iPad or iPhone?:confused:

    When I put my iPad or iPhone in Airplane mode, I get unable to show files due to No Internet Connection
  14. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    When you open the Dropbox app, tap the box icon on the top left if the side banner isn't already open. Then on the bottom of the side banner tap the settings button. Then side banner should now say Local Storage and show the selectable options.
  15. garybUK Guest


    Jun 3, 2002
    Apple could very easily solve this issue with their old iDisk technology, just do the same as Dropbox does, but make the iDisk cached area accessible by other app's....

    granted iDisk was useless due to it's slowness but it opens the possibility... they do have the iCloud data storage, but only in the iWork app's iirc.
  16. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    Apple could make it easy by giving us an on device file system.:eek:
  17. Rampant.A.I. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2009
    I don't know what the deal with that is, either. I remember storing and viewing documents on the 1st Gen Nano. Why this functionality was ever removed, I'll never understand.
  18. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    Yes, they could. But for reasons already cited, they don't want to. Apparently, from Apple's point of view, the iPad and the iPhone are in the same device category: consumer devices not meant to be customized or managed in the same way as a "real" computer. Apple's efforts to "criminalize" jailbreaking were struck down in the courts but that doesn't mean they won't do everything they can to keep users from messing with the basic software architecture of these devices.
  19. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    There is NO excuse. Giving us a file system should not threaten their sales of Mac Books or iMacs. I do not want to jail break my iPad to have this feature.

    The lack of a File/Document storage system is inexcusable for Apple who is supposed to be an innovator!!!!
  20. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    Well since everyone else does it it wouldn't really be an innovation now, would it? It's easily demonstrable that "no file system" is the innovatioh here, whether we like said innovation or not.


    Another way to get increased local storage is to sync a folder or folder(s) from Dropbox to Goodreader, which would keep copies locally and can theoretically handle more local storage than can Dropbox. HOWEVER, I'm not sure I'd personally risk yet another sync node in the overall system.
  21. Vindicator macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2011
    I don't think your answers related to the missing "document organization" part in iOS

    The problem is data/document management and organization not OS filesystem.
    It's not like you need to type a cmd to change file name, make folder, edit file extension. Even on a desktop OS (OSX Lion, Windows 7), users just need a share Document folder to save all their documents, Lightroom for photo, iTunes for music, application take care all of their extensions (docx open in Pages or Words, pdf automatic open Adobe Reader, etc.)

    I don't think a executable binary can direct launch from app or email or browser. Either it is signed and publish via AppStore or must be jailbreak and sideload via Cydia or another method.
    Also Apple already provide "open-in" feature to transfer data/document between apps.
    So I don't think security have anything to do with the problem.

    I see alot of threads complaint about iOS "filesystem" and many people say it is paradigm shift, user friendly, .....
    I think "filesystem" is a misunderstood term, people complaint because they can't management and organization their document. Not because they can't delete a OS file or edit a plist file or disable a daemon service.

    Document organization is a very natural thing to do, like you manger your bookshelf, cabinet, your bill, paper,....
    Many 3rd-party apps try to provide a way to manager your document, but iOS and Apple's app just suck at it. You can't even get your document out of Pages, can't tag or make folder, can't even get a pdf out of iBooks (to annotate, for example) Prior to iOS 5 you can't even make album for your photo.

    Sorry for my english, it's not my native language :D
  22. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
  23. fabian9 macrumors 65816


    Nov 28, 2007
    Bristol, UK
    Not having a filesystem is a paradigm shift that Apple has been trying to accomplish for a number of years now…

    I believe in the long run, they'll want to apply the same principles to OS X as well, which is going to be a nightmare unless they go back to the start and think about how people want to interact with their files.

    As others have already pointed out in this thread, people want to sort their files by subject, not by file type. I can't think of a better way to do this than to allow folders for specific events/parts of life.

    I suppose one possible approach might be to use tags to sort files… so if you have a number of different files to do with your home and mortgage, you can tag them all as "house" and "mortgage" and allow all apps to search through this tag cloud. But tagging every file? That's a royal PITA!

    How else could they do it? They seem very set on the idea of not having a file system... The way it's currently done on iOS might be tolerable on handheld mobile devices, but there is no way people will be able to tolerate these limitations on desktop computers.
  24. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    Apple would NEVER get rid of it's file system on it's computers. They remain stubborn about crippling their mobile devices
  25. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    Perhaps my comments have been misinterpreted. It wasn't my intention to "excuse" Apple's approach. I was simply stating what I believe is their rationale. As noted earlier, I wouldn't even try to use an iPad or iPhone for mission critical and comprehensive file management. And frankly, I don't think Apple expects me to do so.

    Perhaps the existence of some productivity apps (most with limited functionality) such as Pages, Numbers, Documents To Go, etc. has led folks to expect the iPad to be a fully functional computer. I don't think Apple shares that view. If they did, they would have used OSX rather than iOS as an operating system.

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