Productivity Tip: Access your e-files offline from your iPad

The more I use my iPad, the more I love it.  All my non-confidential files are organized electronically according to my own mental map. And I’ve organized these files within my own personal Dropbox folder. Why? So I can access these files wherever I am, online or offline. Also, then I can share specific folders or files with others when I want to. (Here’s a previous article if you’re new to Dropbox).

To access your electronic files offline from your iPad, you do need to be proactive in your planning in the future use of your electronic files. What do I mean?

Let’s say you will be traveling to Chicago to present at a conference. You have your presentation materials backed up on a memory stick, in hard copy, in your email, and on your iPad. Great! You’re all set, right? Well, what happens if there’s an ISP glitch at the venue and you can’t get online. And you’ve lost your hard copies. And your memory stick is not compatible with the loaner machine that you’ve been given. Since you can’t get online, you can’t access your files in email or on your iPad. Ok, this might be a bit far fetched but you still haven’t put a solution in place to make sure you’ve covered all possible scenarios. Here’s the trick: tag your materials as favorites within the Dropbox app. That way, regardless if you are online or not, you can get to them. Whew!

Here’s a video on how to do this (6:13 min): 


1. Have the Dropbox app installed and configured on your iPad (I highly recommend enabling a Dropbox password). This includes setting up a personal Dropbox account.

2. From your desktop machine (whether PC or Mac), move the files and folders that you want to access from your iPad into your Dropbox folder. (You could just copy the files but then you may create versioning woes for yourself down the road.)

3. On your iPad, go into your Dropbox app. Navigate to the file you want to mark for offline viewing.

4. Load the file so that you can see the file contents on your iPad screen. Tap the hollow star icon in the top right (blue bar) to mark that file as a favorite (Dropbox’s terminology). That will change the star display from hollow to filled in.

5. Go to your Favorites pane. Tap the black star icon in the bottom left of your screen and make sure the file is listed in your Favorites list.

You control how many files are listed in your Favorites pane and you can view Favorites files anytime, anywhere, as many times as you like.

To remove a file from the Favorites pane in Dropbox, tap the checkmark icon in the blue title bar. Put a checkmark in the box to the left of the file name (for the file you want to remove from Favorites). Then tap the red Remove button.

Note – by removing a file from Favorites, you are not deleting it from your file system. You are simply removing it from the Dropbox Favorites list which means it will no longer be available to you offline should you need it.

Thanks for stopping by, Susan