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Prisoner of iTunes - the iPad file transfer horror

The conflict between consumption and productivity

Big iPhone syndrome

To import, you connect the iPad to your computer, go to the apps tab of your big iPhone iPad, and look down at the bottom to see which of your apps you want to open the file with. Then you click Add and get the file from your computer, then it trundles along the wire to the iPad. After all this you can open with the app you sent it to, but only with that app.

Sending it in the other direction is possibly even more baroque. In the case of Apple's iWork applications, you go to My Documents, press the 'send' icon at the bottom of the page, and up come three options: send via email, share via and export. Note that you can't save 'to' anywhere, you can't save at all because the iWork documents save themselves all the time, and as far as you're concerned there is no 'to'. The first options do what they say on the tin, while 'export' lets you export the file in a couple of different formats to... where?

OK, back to iTunes, connect your iPad, go to the apps tab for your iPad, scroll to the bottom, click on the app you exported it from, highlight the file, then click on Save to, and save the file onto your computer. You can't do any of this while you're working on the document itself on the iPad; you need to switch over to the My Documents section.

Nor can you name files on the iPad. Highlight a template and click on the plus sign underneath it, and you get an option to duplicate the document, in which case it'll open a file with 'copy' appended to the template's name. Edit directly from the template, and you'll find it creates a new file with '1' appended to the template's name. It gives itself two different ways to create non-relevant filenames, and won't let you have even one?

The Air Sharing workaround

It's possible to work around some of the iPad's insane file sharing restrictions using Avatron Software's Air Sharing HD, which is as essential from the point of view of sanity preservation as it is for getting stuff done. HD, the iPad version of the Air Sharing iPhone app, lets you mount the iPad as a drive and copy files back and forth wirelessly, and also via iTunes and the cable (which is a teensie bit faster if you're thinking of copying a movie). It doesn't give you access to the iPad's file system (it's forbidden, remember?), but it lets you organise your own folders within the Air Sharing sandbox.

iTunes file transfer

So you can use it to move a wide range of file formats (including audio and video) onto the iPad and then view them, but you can't use it for manipulating those files, nor can you transfer a file with Air Sharing and then manipulate it with another app - eg one of those in the iWork 'suite', which is actually rather more like three separate apps that don't talk to one another.

I could - as you may have gathered - go on. The iPad's file sharing is laughably awful, and needs fixing. But will it get fixed? And how did it get like this in the first place?

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