Blog Post

How To Use Remote Docs on iPad With SugarSync

I am continuing to get the iPad (s aapl) more integrated into my production routine, and finding it pretty useful at many things. The iPad lacks a file system as many will point out, and that does present a challenge for building a fully productive environment. I am getting around that shortcoming using a tool I recently implemented for file-sharing among multiple computers. SugarSync is a cloud service that keeps folders on computers in sync, while providing a cloud backup of the files. There is an iPad app for SugarSync that works well with the service, and I am using it to access my files from the iPad.

Once the SugarSync app is installed, a simple login is all that is required to get access to every file I have in sync with the service. This is all of my documents, photos, movies and music that I use on both the Mac and Windows PC. Most of the documents are Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint (s msft) and Adobe PDFs (s adbe), all of which I can use on the iPad.

I have over 20 GB of files on SugarSync and I don’t want them on the iPad with the limited memory. I don’t even want a few of them, I prefer to just grab a file as needed. I open the SugarSync app on the iPad and search for the file I want. Tapping it gives the option to view it or email it. If I only need to refer to something in the file I simply view it. The viewer handles DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT and PDF formats with ease and displays them nicely. It probably handles other formats, but these are the ones I have tried.

If I need to edit the file, I send it to myself via email through the app. This is handled internally in SugarSync and works OK, although I wish it remembered common email addresses I send files to. Once it’s sent I open the Mail app and tap on the document link in the preview pane. This opens the file in the web browser, along with a button to open it in the appropriate iWork app if installed. You have to be really quick to hit this button, as once it disappears it’s gone forever. If you miss it you have to go back and hit the email file link again to hit the button. Once the document opens in iWork, the full editing features are available and the file is saved locally.

This method has worked well so far, and I am using it more than I thought I would. I always have various files in progress on the Mac, and just keeping them in the Documents folder automatically syncs them to SugarSync. I wish the process was as simple as pushing a single button, but it will do for now.

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11 Responses to “How To Use Remote Docs on iPad With SugarSync”

  1. Connie

    I’ve been using my iPad with Verizon’s MiFi to connect back to my Macbook Pro 13″ at home to work on my files. I used to carry the Macbook with me everywhere, but the iPad is easier. Plus this set up means I don’t have the overhead of syncing files hither and yon (just a simple timemachine backup of the Macbook does it for me).

    I find that using the touchscreen is fine for reviewing files on the Macbook and making minor changes. When I need to do major rework, though, I hook up my bluetooth keyboard and get going. There’s some small lag on the MiFi as files open on the iPad screen, but once I get the document full-screen, the 3G lag is non-existent.

  2. Gordon

    Is it just me or is this a MAJOR oversight on Apple’s part. What’s the point of having a productivity suite if actually being productive is so much trouble. My gut tells me I really want an Ipad (eventhough I have a P1620), but poor software design like this really knocks the gloss off this device for me.

    Surely Apple will have to allow native access to at least its own iDisk system if not local document access.


  3. James – I’ve been doing the same on my iPad. And then after I make my changes, I use SugarSync’s “upload by email” to send the file back to my SugarSync account (SugarSync gives you a special email address to send files to your account using email). The edited file is sent to a folder that is synced automatically with my computers, which means I don’t have to tether the iPad to get the edited file back to my main computer.

  4. You are always on the cutting edge.

    Once you have E-mailed the document to yourself from your SugarSync account, opened it in iWorks, and edited the document, is there a way to attach it to an email sent directly from a iPad email account?

  5. I’m basically doing the same thing without the SugarSync subscription using Apple’s built-in VPN and a $2.99 app called FileBrowser. I’m hoping for a solution to download direct to apps in future.

  6. I’ve also been struggling with the file storage problem for a couple of days now. I really can’t believe that Apple’s iWork apps don’t at least support Apple’s own iDisk storage. But, I have to say that this is my only complaint so far and there are clumsy work-arounds at least.

    You should try using on the iPad. They also have an iPad app, but it shares the same limitations as SugarSync (can’t directly open files for editing). But instead of using the app you can simply go to the Web site and browse your files/folders. Clicking a file opens it so you can skip the e-mailing step.

    A faster solution if you missed the “Open in Pages” button is to press the “home” button to close Safari, then immediately click the Safari icon. As soon as Safari launches it gives you the “Open in Pages” button again for a couple of seconds.

    My own blog has some early comments on the business case for the iPad.