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How Do I Share Files between an iPad and Windows without Wi-Fi?

by Craig Mill

on Tue Dec 10, 2019

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An age-old problem and one that we are often asked at ​CALL – how do I share files between an iPad and a computer without Wi-Fi?

The following scenario is one I often come across when visiting schools where Wi-Fi is poor or non-existent.

My pupil is using a writing app on an iPad. I need to evidence the pupil’s writing, but there is no Wi-Fi in the school, getting the pupil’s work off the iPad is problematic.

Homework

I’ve heard examples of staff taking iPads home and using their home Wi-Fi to email the pupil’s work to their computer at school – to be commended but not recommended!

Others have invested in a 4G dongle which, although is a short-term solution, it can be costly and difficult to manage.

What about a Bluetooth printer?

One possible option is to go down the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth printer route, but you’ll soon become embroiled in a swamp of network-enabled AirPrint restrictions coupled with third-party Bluetooth printing apps that either work independently of Wi-Fi, or require some form of Wi-Fi connectivity.

Dual memory sticks

​I’ve used the Sandisk iXpand Lightning/USB dual memory stick, for transferring files, although there are other brands that do a similar job such as the TEKQ Mini uDrive. Although dual memory sticks are convenient and reasonably inexpensive, they rely on 3rd party apps to transfer and manage data.

SanDisk iXpand

A disadvantage of dual memory sticks (and apps) is that not all of them support the transfer of files such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Clicker grids etc. Many are limited to only images, videos or music files.

When reading the product details you must drill down to the fine print discover which files are supported, as it isn't always obvious.

USB to Lightning Adapter and the Files app

This is possibly the easiest, efficient and most cost-effective way of transferring information between an iPad and a Windows computer. Depending on where you buy an Apple USB to Lightning adapter, prices range from between £10 and £39.00 (Apple Store).

USB to Lightning adatpor

The other item you need is a USB memory stick which is cheap as chips, from £5.00 for 16GB of memory – plenty of memory for transferring Word and other files.

Files app

Recent versions of the iPad's operating system (since iOS 11) or the most recent 'iPad OS' includes the Files app. The Files app is the iPad's main app for managing and viewing all your files (and most file formats) which are either stored locally on the iPad or via iCloud.

files app

Below is an illustrated guide which explains how to transfer files between the Files app and a USB memory stick.

The Clicker Docs app is used as an example, but the process is the same for most apps.

Step 1:

Place the Lighting end of the USB into the iPad (just below the Home button) – make sure a USB memory stick is attached.

USB camera adapter

USB pendrive


Step 2:

In Clicker Docs tap the Document icon (or the Share icon for other apps).

Document icon


Step 3:

Choose 'Send a Copy'.

Send a copy


Step 4:

Choose either Text File or PDF File (although PDF is the preferred option as most schools have a PDF reader).

Choose PDF


Step 5:

Choose 'Save to Files'. Ensure you choose this option for all files that you want to transfer.

Files apps


Step 6:

When the File app opens, scroll down until you see 'New Volume' (or whatever you have named the USB stick).

Either save the PDF file here or in a or in a folder/location of your choice.

Save to files


New iPads and 'USB C'

If you're lucky enough to have one of the newest and latest iPads the lightning connection has been replaced with a new standard of USB - 'USB C'. ​

USB C

USB C is the emerging standard for charging and transferring data, particularly at high speeds. USB C can also be used to connect supported computer monitors and projectors.

The shape of the adapter is different from the Lightning adapter - so make sure you get the correct adapter to fit your iPad.

Tags: ipad, files app, transfer date,

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