iPhone can has be USB drive?
December 4, 2009 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Which app is best for dragging and dropping Word/PDF files from my laptop to get them on my iPhone so I can email them to my office?

The caveat: I don't have internet at home anymore and sometimes I need to edit a document I was working on (at home) at work or school. My office uses WYSE terminals which won't read a USB drive. I've found emailing myself stuff to be the best way to schlep files around. I have an early version of Mac OS X at home and my iPhone is a 3G.
posted by ShadePlant to Technology (18 answers total)
I use WifiHD, which is handy since it works even if the thing is not docked.
posted by rokusan at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2009

Oh, wait... no, I cannot then access those files as e-mail attachments from the phone, so that probably won't work. I don't think you can add anything other than a photo when composing an e-mail on the iPhone.

But perhaps your WYSE terminal can mount a Wifi shared drive? That's how the iPhone appears when running the above. No USB needed, at least.
posted by rokusan at 12:19 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: Forgive my lack of 1337ness, but can I use wifi at home sans internet?
posted by ShadePlant at 12:22 PM on December 4, 2009

Would DropBox work? You can't email files from your phone, but you can email links directly to the file in your DropBox online storage space. It's free (up to 2 gigs) so worth a shot.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:34 PM on December 4, 2009

Forgive me if I've misunderstood your question, but I don't think there's any way to drag-and-drop documents from your computer to your (plugged in) iPhone.

I have an iPod Touch, and the only way I know to get documents (pdf, word, excel) onto it is either to email them to myself, or to use an app like Air Sharing or Briefcase, and both of those require that both your phone and your computer be on the same wireless network.

but can I use wifi at home sans internet?

If you don't have internet, you don't have wifi (unless you can pick up an open network from a neighbor or something). Can you not download email attachments over your cellular connection? Because you should have cell service all the time, even if you don't have wireless. Of course, this will not help you get documents from your home (internet-less) computer onto your phone.
posted by rtha at 12:40 PM on December 4, 2009

Oh, wait - no, that won't work for you, as you won't be able to get the file from home into a DropBox without internet access there.

You might be able to tether your computer in the future (share iPhone internet connection with your home system via Bluetooth or something) but for now it isn't possible, because AT&T doesn't want you to do that. There are iPhone apps that will let you send and receive files via Bluetooth (why doesn't Apple support this out of the box?), and if your Mac is old enough that it doesn't have Bluetooth you can add on a small USB adapter to make it work.

Damn WYSE terminals. From your profile I wonder whether you and I work at the same place, because I have to wrestle with those stupid things and their idiotic non-handling of external storage on a regular basis. If so, for all I know DropBox might be blocked by the IT drones in the first place... I know, I know, it's all in the name of patient security...
posted by caution live frogs at 12:42 PM on December 4, 2009

ShadePlant: Yes, you can run a wireless network even if there's no tube connected to the larger internet. You won't be able to access the web but you can still use apps that communicate with computers over wifi.

rokusan is right that you can't send file attachments in email from an iPhone. You might check out ServersMan, a very powerful (if a bit complicated) app that turns your iPhone into a portable web server. You can copy files to it via Bluetooth—if your computer doesn't have built-in Bluetooth support, USB dongles are cheap—and then access the server in your office web browser to download the file.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:44 PM on December 4, 2009

Do you still have a wireless router at home?
posted by Nameless at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: I have a Qwest router at home still. Signal is good.
posted by ShadePlant at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2009

If you don't have internet, you don't have wifi

Yeah, ignore what I said there. That's what I get for trying to read work emails while answering askmes.
posted by rtha at 1:11 PM on December 4, 2009

Okay, I thought it out. WifiHD works, if you do your uploading and downloading with a web browser (it runs as a tiny web server on your phone), but is only practical if both computers have Wifi... no matter whether they're using it or not, though. (No, internet is not needed on either network.)
posted by rokusan at 1:24 PM on December 4, 2009

Do you still have a wireless router at home, or can you run your laptop as a wifi hotspot? If so, you can use a number of iPhone apps to copy the files over the wifi network and then e-mail them to yourself.

No one has mentioned jailbreaking yet, and that would be another route to go. It's a lot to do just for this one thing, however.

You can also try this ridiculous solution.
posted by Nameless at 1:27 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: I don't know if my laptop can run as a wifi hotspot... I still have a router which works and connects to the laptop just fine. (If I just answered the question I said I didn't know the answer to with the latter part of that sentence I'm sorry but I am not well versed in these things.)
posted by ShadePlant at 1:31 PM on December 4, 2009

If you're AT&T, you'll need to jailbreak to do this. For all other (sane) iPhone providers, you can do this natively. Just tether your iPhone to you computer. Your computer will now be using your cell-phone data, ie it's connected to the internet just like your iPhone is. Email yourself the document, and it'll now be available anywhere your email is.

Sorry I don't know whats involved with the jailbreaking and tethering -- my Canadian iPhone with Rogers just works without difficulty.
posted by cgg at 1:40 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: I'm on AT&T and would rather avoid jailbreaking. The wifi route sounds the way to go for the time being.
posted by ShadePlant at 1:46 PM on December 4, 2009

I use the free app Discover (Itunes Link) as a wifi hard drive. The web app doesn't seem to work very well unless I'm in basic mode, but the price is right.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:45 PM on December 4, 2009

AirSharing can act as a wifi drop box. I don't think you'll be able to email stuff around from it though.

You don't need any internet access to use wifi. You don't technically need a wifi access point either but if you have one, that'll make life easier. If you don't you need to use what's known as "ad-hoc" wifi, in which your mac will essentially act as the wifi access point for your phone. Under the Airport menu, select "Create Network" and you should be able to figure out the rest.
posted by chairface at 4:13 PM on December 4, 2009

I don't know if there is a cheaper/free alternative - Air Sharing Pro

It acts as a local network device with sharing on (a webdav device) - meaning that if you're connected to the local network, you can drag items to your iphone like a USB drive.

The Pro version has the ability to email those files (the $5 version says it can, but it can't - just tried it.) More info here: Avatron
posted by filmgeek at 8:17 AM on December 5, 2009

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