Monday, December 12, 2011

Google Docs for your iPad vs iCloud

I've led a few iPad training classes for the Toronto/Mississauga branch of a company with 75,000 users on Google Apps.  They've been lots of fun because gadget guys like me that love to figure out cool ways to get things done get paid to show our tricks.

A common question is how do I easily sync presentations, pictures, pdf's, and documents from my desktop to my iPad and back again with iTunes or iCloud?  Well, don't...  It's easier to use Google Docs to store all your files in the cloud so you don't have to remember to sync and fiddle with iTunes

When you open for example a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on the iPad from your Google Docs the Google servers automatically image it and display it.  At the bottom you can tap on Download to open the file in your iPad's viewer instead.

Not sure how to access your Google Docs from your iPad?  Install the Google Search App and it provides you with convenient icons to access your Docs, Photos, etc.

With more downloads than Angry Birds, Keynote for the iPad is an extremely popular application.  If you need to import Powerpoint presentations into Keynote for offline presenting first upload them to Google Docs from your desktop and make sure you don't convert it to the Google Presentations format.  On your iPad from Safari (not from the Google Search Apps embedded browser) visit  Open the Powerpoint presentation from your Google Docs, scroll to the bottom and tap the Download link.  Now watch the top right for a black bar to appear with a button to open in Keynote.  If you miss it tap just below the standard Safari grey bar.  Click open in Keynote.  Viola, your presentation is now imported into Keynote and ready to go; no need to sync with iTunes or be anywhere near a computer.
Stating the obvious for regular Google Docs users now... but it's even better when you do everything in Google Documents, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Presentations format because team members can all collaborate on the document at the exact same time.  iPads can even edit Google Documents and Google Spreadsheets in real time.

If your team member made last minute revisions to the Google Presentation you don't need to even ask if you have the latest version.  Just open it from Google Docs on your iPad and start your presentation.

Certainly contact us at if your team could benefit from our iPad training.


  1. The entire purpose of iCloud is that you no longer need to sync your Mac/iPhone/iPad with iTunes. This article is nonsense and whoever wrote it doesn't understand what he is talking about.

    1. Hi Cody,
      What about presentation files you want to sync with your Mac or PC? How do you move the presentation file from your PC or Mac to the iPad without iTunes? Music sync's without iTunes but not other files from your Mac or PC. You have to manually upload them to iWork. Please reread the article or check out recent user complaints on this blog post:

    2. Yes they are easy sync'd from keynote, pages or numbers directly to icloud and then opened on the ipad, there is no need to use itunes.

      Goodreader is also a great app which lets you look at almost any type of file on your ipad, and has awesome connectivity to dropbox, icloud, or google drive, ftp, etc...

    3. Hello Anonymous,

      We just double checked and you still can't sync from your Mac or PC Keynote presentations or Pages without iTunes. Please provide links to the online documentation if you feel this has been addressed by any updates from Apple.

  2. Solved my problem! I was trying to figure out how to use the new google drive to transfer a file from work to keynote on my ipad -- your tip on opening google docs from safari which then magically calls up the button to open in Keynote saved the day! Not too intuitive, and couldn't find this tip anywhere else.


  3. Keynote 5.2 was released today and adds support for OS X Mountain Lion. It states that it can store presentations in iCloud and keep them automatically up to date across your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and the web.

    No mention of Windows PC's...


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