Hint: Viewing Excel, PDF, and Word Files on Your iPhone without Mail or Safari

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by G4R2, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. G4R2 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2006
    There is actually an incredibly easy way to save, organize, and view most kinds of files on your iPhone. This includes:

    - PDFs
    - Excel Files
    - Word Files
    - Safari webpages

    The application that you need to use on your iPhone is neither Mail nor Safari.

    It is, instead, the Photo application on your iPhone. You will be able to scroll, zoom, and organize the files however you like. They will be stored automatically in a folder in iPhoto with virtually no effort.

    The OS X function that does this is the Print function found in most applications. Print has a special item on the PDF button called Save PDF to iPhoto. This will convert whatever you are printing into a picture instead of a PDF file and send it to iPhoto. You will organize your documents in iPhoto for syncing using this method.

    Here are the instructions to do this:

    1. Open the PDF file you want to view on your iPhone in Preview in OS X.

    2. Select Print. In the dialog that appears select the PDF button on the bottom left hand side.

    3. Now scroll down the pop up list and select Save PDF to iPhoto.

    4. iPhoto will now launch and you will be prompted for an album name to store the new files. Type in the name of the document or if you prefer just "iPhone Documents" if you'd like to make this album the repository of all your converted documents.

    5. Sync your iPhone. You'll have to go to the Photo page in iTunes to make sure the folder is selected and that the images sync.

    6. On your iPhone click photos and you'll see the PDF has been broken down by pages and is viewable, scrollable, and zoomable like any other photo.

    If you are printing in either Word or Excel you can increase the text size of the document and print the file to iPhoto in landscape mode to increase the quality of the image that is created.

    Note: It helps if the document you want to view doesn't have small text. I suspect there must be a way to control the quality of the converted documents somewhere so if anyone knows it would be great.
  2. whyrichard macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2002
    is there any sort of change in quality between a normal pdf and a pdf made using this method?

  3. G4R2 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2006
    This method doesn't create a PDF. What it does it seems to do is intercept whatever is being sent to the printer via an Automator action and send it as a JPEG to iPhoto instead.

    What diminishes the quality on the iPhone is that iTunes "optimizes" the photos in your library to be displayed on the smaller screen. To overcome this, the printer settings have to be fiddled with depending on the type of document you want to view. Printing in landscape mode helps some documents as does increasing the zoom.
  4. G4R2 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2006
    Also, you may want to take a look at the Automator action that is responsible for this. It is located in /Library/PDF Services/ and is called "Print PDF to iPhoto."
  5. unity macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2005
    Green Bay, WI
    While a great idea, it does not work well at all. I tried this with the iPhone user's guide. Looked great in iPhoto - but as stated, the optimization made them all but inlegible on the phone. Anything smaller than size 12 may not even be readable.
  6. jvanlee1 macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2007
    PDF to iPhone

    Any application that can print to PDF can save PDF to iPhoto or to Mail. I had a Word document I wanted on my iPhone, so in Word I selected Print, then clicked the PFD button in the Print dialog and selected Mail PDF. The resulting email attachment on the iPhone is clearer than the photo method but you have to use the "finger spread" to make it big enough to read.
  7. G4R2 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2006
    E-mailing yourself the PDF file would be a great solution until Apple releases a dedicated document viewer that lets you organize and view files except it seems that the Mail app on the iPhone doesn't always store attachments locally depending on the type of e-mail accounts you have set up.

    The Photo app guarantees that the files are stored locally, but unfortunately Apple has chosen to convert the photo files on the iPhone into .ithmb files the way it does on all other iPods instead of the actual image files. You would think that the reason Apple has done this is in order to conserve space on the iPhone but it doesn't seem to be the case. Each .ithmb, regardless of the file size it was converted from, is about either 52k or 708k in size. So if you want to view a jpg that is smaller than 708k on the iPhone it may actually get converted into a file that is larger and of lower quality!

    For either of these solutions to work well there should be an option to allow the iPhone to store the actual JPG's or PDF's and to view them on the phone without conversion or having to rely on the internet.

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