If you have more than one Apple device you may want to share files between the two. There are a few ways to do this. Here we show you how.

share files from a mac to ipad

The Knowhow


iCloud Apple

One of the simplest ways to file share between your computer and iPad, iPhone or iPod is through iCloud. Apple's cloud storage system makes it easy to move Pages, Keynote and Number documents between devices and update, edit and print them. You need to have a device running iOS 5 to use iCloud (now standard on the latest Apple products).

About iCloud:

Through iCloud you can access most content across all the Apple devices you use:

  • It automatically stores your content so it's always available to your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC.
  • It gives you access to your music, apps, and videos that have been bought from the iTunes store, or any photos you've stored
  • It keeps your email, contacts and calendars up to date across all your devices
  • To access documents sign into icloud.com/iWork in any modern web browser

To download a document you click on it or you can drag and drop a document from your computer into one of the iWork apps on icloud.com and it should automatically appear on all your devices.

Adding files to your iPad from a Mac using iTunes:

itunes icon

For apps that use Apple's File Sharing, such as Apple's iWork programs, you can use iTunes to get files on and off the iPad.

  • Connect the iPad to your Mac using the supplied USB cable
  • Select iPad in iTunes library
  • Click on the iTunes Apps tab
  • Scroll down to File Sharing (if you have no apps that support file sharing this won't appear)
  • Look for a list of apps that support File Sharing
  • Click on one and you'll see any files you've added or created on the iPad

Add and delete documents

From here, you can add documents to your iPad in three ways:

  • Click Add, go to a document in the Open dialog box that appears, select the document and then click Open
  • Click Sync and the file will copy to your iPad
  • Drag a file onto the File Sharing list when the appropriate app is selected in the Apps list. This will copy the files immediately without you having to click Sync.

To delete documents, select them in the file list and press Delete.

Import iWork documents

When you're working with the iWork apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) you will need to import the files before you can view or edit them. You can do this by opening the document folder and tapping on the document you want to import.

Note: iWork for iPad apps won't recognise certain characters such as forward slash / so you will need to remove this before importing.

Copying files from your iPad to a Mac

Once you've edited a document on your iPad, you need to export it before moving it back to your Mac.

  1. Tap My Documents (or My Presentations, or My Spreadsheets, depending on the app) and open the document
  2. Tap Export and then choose a file format. 
  3. If you've made changes to the document you will be asked if you want to replace the original. If you do, tap Replace.
  4. The app will export the file

Now to copy:

  1. Select your iPad in the iTunes Library and then click on the iTunes' Apps tab
  2. Scroll down to the File Sharing section and select the appropriate app
  3. Choose the file you want from the list and click Save To
  4. In the Open dialog box that appears, go to a folder where you'd like to save the file, and click Open
  5. iTunes will copy the file immediately

You can also click on a file in the documents list and drag it to a Finder window to copy it.

Updated On:

Jul 27, 2012

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