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Sharing Files

As mentioned in the previous section, iPad doesn't let you get at files the way your computer does with a series of folders and files. You open files in individual applications, such as Photos and Videos. You can't save files to a storage medium, such as a flash drive that you can remove and place in another computing device. Therefore, managing and sharing your files with other devices or other people works a bit differently on your iPad.

You have a few options for getting files out of your iPad: e-mail them; sync with a computer to share things like calendar events, contact records, music, or photos; share them over a network; or use the Safari browser and a third-party service, such as Dropbox, to upload and view files in the cloud (collectively the places on the Internet where data or apps can be stored and accessed using a browser).

Relying on good old e-mail

You can use tools in individual applications to e-mail files to yourself or others. E-mailing files to yourself can be useful if you've worked on a document on your iPad and then want to get a copy of it on your computer. You can't exactly save a copy because (remember) there is no removable storage medium on your iPad, so you e-mail the file and save the e-mail attachment to your computer hard drive or other storage.

Here's an example of e-mailing from an app, in this case, Photos:

  1. Open Photos and locate a picture you'd like to e-mail.
  2. Tap the picture to open it, and then tap the Menu button.
  3. Tap Email Photo, and the e-mail form shown.
  4. Fill out the e-mail form and tap Send to get the e-mail on its way to yourself or somebody else.

Going through the cloud

Apps such as iDisk through MobileMe, Dropbox, DropCopy Lite, and FileFly - Easy WiFi Sharing and Viewing (a wireless file-sharing app) allow you to upload files to an online site and, using an app you download to your iPad, access and view those files.

See how this works with Dropbox, which is a good free file-sharing app that provides one of the easiest ways to get any and all files to and from your iPad to any and all other computers and devices.

Dropbox is a cloud-based service that allows you to store your files on their servers and access them on any device that's connected to the Internet. Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, BlackBerry, and of course iOS.

When you're on a computer, Dropbox works like any other folder on your hard drive. When you open it with your browser, you have instant access to all your files. When you drop something into your folder, it's copied to the company's servers, and then pushed out to anywhere you've set up with your Dropbox account, including your iPad.

After you download the Dropbox app, you can open a file on iPad and view but not edit it, unless you choose the option of opening the document with an app you have on your iPad that would be a logical fit.

Dropbox folders can be selectively shared with other Dropbox users, making it a great tool for any sort of collaborative project.

In addition to the Dropbox app, iOS app developers can add Dropbox functionality directly to their apps, like the Quickoffice folks did. This functionality makes working with your files in those apps easier.

Apple's MobileMe iDisk is another very useful way to share files - in fact, Apple refers to it as "Your hard drive on the Web." You can store and share files to your heart's content with iDisk, but remember it's part of the MobileMe paid service, so it will cost you a bit.

iWork provides a Share via iWork.com option for sharing documents you create in those apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynotes). Tap the Sharing icon to choose this option from the menu.

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