How to view a PDF on shared drive on a tablet without downloading it to the device first?
April 4, 2012 4:26 AM   Subscribe

Can Ipad (or any other tablet) be used to browse and view a folder of documents (mostly PDF/Office) on a shared drive over Wifi without actually downloading the file to the device?

We collaborate on documents in network drives and Sharepoint sites. The size of the folders are too large to be replicated to a tablet device. I would like to use a table to view PDF and Office files directly over Wifi that are on a shared drive.

I know apps like Good Reader and File Browser (NetPortal) are capable of doing this and I used them; but they all require you select and download the file you want to view to your tablet first.

Is there an app or a solution that allows me to view files on a shared drive over Wifi directly without the need for downloading?
posted by djfreex to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't answer about a shared drive on the network, but this is exactly how it handles files in the Dropbox.
posted by yclipse at 4:35 AM on April 4, 2012

Does your webbrowser have a PDF reader? If so, a simple webserver exporting the directory of PDF files should suffice.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:38 AM on April 4, 2012

OK, looks like I missed a part of the question. Dropbox files are displayed as a listing, and not downloaded automatically as they are on a computer. But a single file, when "opened", is then downloaded.
posted by yclipse at 4:41 AM on April 4, 2012

By "view files" do you mean view a directory listing, or view (i.e. open) the contents of the file itself? Because if it's the latter, that's just not possible because you need to have the file on your device before you open it, it's not like streaming video.

If it's the former, Dropbox will do that.
posted by Xany at 4:52 AM on April 4, 2012

You could always use a "remote PC" app to actually view the directories on a remote computer which mounts the share.

There are a multitude of VNC client apps which might serve this purpose.
posted by NoDef at 6:23 AM on April 4, 2012

Response by poster: Clarification: When I say view - I mean to be able to read the files not seeing a directory listing. I can do that right now with Netportal (Filebrowser), but when I want to open a file it has to downloaded into the device.

The reason I dont want this is two fold:
1. Way too many files to be downloaded and synced for Ipad memory hence invalidating the dropbox idea.
2. Each file is at least 50-70MB and I generally need to reference and look at sections of it so I want to be able to jump to a page etc and dont want to wait until i can pull these files just to look at a page.

Files are on a NAS server - not on a remote pc so that doesnt work either. I didnt have much luck with resolution on LogmeIN as well to be able to clearly read PDFs.

posted by djfreex at 7:26 AM on April 4, 2012

You can't actually view anything that isn't downloaded in some form. It is like asking if you can see something without light hitting your eyes. That said, it is theoretically possible to break up large files and download small portions of them at a time to deal with space limitations, but I don't know of any applications that do this. The VLC/LogmeIn solution is doing this in effect--you download an image of part of the file instead of the whole thing. There should be a way to fix the resolution problem (increases the file size, however.)
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:59 AM on April 4, 2012

My Nook Color boots a generic Android off its SD card. There are a number of applications that can browse SMB (Windows file sharing) folder trees and open files as if they were local. I use ES File Explorer, but I'm sure there are others. (Most files have to be downloaded to a temporary cache on the SD card, though, since most apps have no idea how to access a network file share.)
posted by introp at 8:21 AM on April 4, 2012

If you upload the documents to Google Docs, you can view them without downloading them to your device. That would require uploading everything on the shared drive first though, but that's why I like Google Docs for collaboration.
posted by banished at 9:23 AM on April 4, 2012

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