How To Transfer Files To Your iPhone Or iPad (For Beginners)

How To Transfer Files To Your iPhone Or iPad (For Beginners)

A friend of mine recently called me, frustrated, because he couldn’t figure out how to get PDFs onto his iPad. While it’s actually a very simple operation once you know how to do it, it’s not something that’s very obvious to people who are new to iOS (as many iPad users are). Here’s a look at the simplest method of transferring files to an iDevice for those who don’t yet know how to do it.

The video above will walk you through the process visually, but here are the basic steps you need to follow:

  1. Connect your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to iTunes. (You can let it sync if you want, but this isn’t necessary.)
  2. Click on your device in the list on the left side of iTunes. (It’ll be under the “DEVICES” header.)
  3. Click the “Apps” tab up on top in the main panel of iTunes.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom where you’ll find a “File Transfer” section with a list of apps. From that list, choose an app you want to transfer a file to.
  5. Onto the (probably empty) space to the right of the apps list, drag in the file you want to transfer. You can also click “Add…” to browse for the file and choose it. As soon as you’ve chosen the file, it will transfer to your device. You’ll see the progress at the top of the iTunes window. When it’s done you can disconnect and your file will be on your device.

Some apps provide additional ways to transfer files that you may prefer, but this is the most straightforward method and it works for every app that supports files. If you’d prefer to transfer over Wi-Fi (or another method), check the app to see if it has other methods. These methods vary from app to app, but most provide instructions so you can learn how to use the various transfer methods. They’re worth exploring if you prefer to avoid connecting your device to your computer every time you want to transfer a file.


    • ..or don’t even plug in, you just use a file manager
      to browse and copy over wifi.

      God I’m glad I never have to use iTunes again. This is ridiculous.

  • My first advice to everyone who gets an iDevice is to buy GoodReader. It offers easy synching to Dropbox, WebDAV, Google Docs, etc, runs its own WiFi webserver, and makes a proper filesystem that you can navigate easily. Then it lets you open any file using any other appropriate app on the device (and it can view and even edit 90% of things itself anyway).

    That one application that I bought to read PDFs has turned out to be the single most useful app I’ve ever had. I’m not paid to say this, I just like to support good developers.

    • +1. It was one of the first apps I bought for my iPad, and I didn’t realise how useful it was until the first time i went to sync using iTunes

      Couldn’t help thinking Apple should implement some of GoodReader’s functions for file transfers…

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