Friday, August 3, 2012

iPad Productivity Tip #1: Add to Dropbox Work-Around

If you use a tablet, you are familiar with the re-learning curve. Even if you've used computers and smart phones for years, a tablet just doesn't always function the way we think it should. Then when you throw in different operating systems (iOS & Android), you have several more layers of learning to embark upon.

Good thing this is tons of fun for me. I've been a tinkerer ever since seventh-grade grade basic programming. On top of that, when I stumble upon something that seems "un-doable," I tend to find a way to do it anyway. So, in my quest to find a way to use my tablet for everything, I'll pass on some of these tips to you. They will mostly be work/school related tasks, but I may also show some fun stuff too. (Like how I've found ways to watch TV from virtually any device: phone, laptop, tablet, ipod, SD card...okay maybe not that last one.) 

This first one is pretty simple, but seems hidden to many people, which is why I'm sharing it with you. Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage services. It's so wonderful because it works with virtually any operating system - mobile or otherwise. I can add a document from my home computer and later access it from my Android phone, my tablet, or even a public computer.

Adding a document from a computer is a snap. It's also pretty easy from Android (tablet or phone), because while viewing any document, you just click "share" and you have a really long list of ways to share from any application to any application, as seen in this screenshot below. 

Some of the many Android
sharing options 
However, as I soon found out, iPad doesn't allow for easy sharing from any application to any application. The only share options are typically: email or Tweet. Within Pages, you can send to iTunes, so there's that. Oh you can also choose to use iCloud, but not everyone likes iCloud, and if you're using iCloud, then you probably wouldn't be reading this article about Dropbox anyway. But rather than be flummoxed by this lack of functionality, I chose to rise to the challenge and find away around it. 

So now for iPad Productivity Tip#1 
Let's say you've opened a document from Dropbox to make some changes to it, and you'd like to drop that document back into Dropbox for access later. But iPad won't let you add to Dropbox from Pages. Here's what you do:

  • Email the document to yourself as an attachment using the built in iPad email client, not Gmail or some other email app.
  • Open the email
  • Press on the attachment for a few seconds until a small menu opens up that looks like this:

  • Click "Open In..." If you have Dropbox installed, which I'm assuming you do if you're reading this, then Dropbox will appear in the menu. You may have to scroll the list to find Dropbox. 

  • You will then be directed to Dropbox to save. Here's what that looks like:

Voila! You're done.

We could save a few steps if either (A) iOS would allow integration with Dropbox or (B) Dropbox would create an "email to Dropbox" function like Evernote. But until then, we have this workaround. It works and that's what matters to me!

There are a few other more complicated options out there, but this is the simplest way I've found. 

Let me know if you have questions or problems!

Previous iPad posts you may find helpful:
Getting Started
Dream Reading