How to get PDFs from shared drive onto multiple iPads?
August 15, 2012 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Help me set up a system to make PDFs available from our corporate network to our users' iPads.

I work for a professional services firm. Our staff often visit clients. They want to be able to load PDFs of useful documents onto their iPads, so they can refer to them when speaking to clients.

I've tried putting the files in a Sharepoint folder and having the users access them via Citrix, but they tell me this isn't very user-friendly.

I've also thought of using DropBox.

My other option would be to have them download the files from the Sharepoint folder to their desktop, then copy them to the iPad. If I understand right, the iPad doesn't have USB ports, so they'd need a special lead?

Are there any other obvious options that I have missed? Bonus question, can anyone suggest the best iPad apps to read and manage PDFs (I know about GoodReader).
posted by Infinite Jest to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is it possible to have the system deliver the PDF as an email attachment?
posted by dgran at 5:25 AM on August 15, 2012

I don't think so: we would have sets of PDFs on several different topics (with maybe 10 PDFs per topic); each user might want the PDFs for one or more topics. We would have multiple users needing access, maybe 40 or 50.

(Also given that this is a corporate setting I would guess iTunes is out, but I could look into that maybe - it seems to be recommended in a few places).
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:36 AM on August 15, 2012

I know you already mention GoodReader, but it can do the transfer as well. Put your PDFs on network drive (or dropbox, or FTP site), and point GoodReader at that location. Then your people can pick and choose the PDFs that they want to transfer onto their iPad.
posted by FreezBoy at 5:40 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

If Dropbox would work with your system, that's an almost trivial solution. In the iPad app, it shows up as a series of files and folders and can open PDFs there, or move them into iBooks or any PDF annotator. The only issue is accounts; either each person would have the username and password for a shared account, or each person would have their own account, sharing folders with the company's account. If the company account is a "Dropbox for Teams" one, the space that the shared folders take up wouldn't count against users' available space.
posted by supercres at 5:41 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could use the web server built in to Calibre.
posted by Runes at 5:42 AM on August 15, 2012

Can you not just load all the PDFs on to all the iPads and leave them there? How much storage space are we talking about?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:50 AM on August 15, 2012

can you just put the PDFs on a (password protected?) http server so your staff can retrieve them on-demand? if you don't like the in-browser display you can open them in iBooks and the adobe PDF reader, and presumably the other ones as well.
posted by russm at 6:05 AM on August 15, 2012

Seconding Calibre. I have it set up to run on my home network and dumped all my PDFs on it. It is easy to quickly assign categories/tags and other meta-data so you can sort and search efficiently if you had a huge number of PDFs. The mobile interface is easy to browse through Safari on an iPad or iPhone, and then your staff can open the files in whatever app they want on their devices.

PDFs are fine in iBooks for reading, and they can organise them into different shelves. If they need to annotate them etc then Goodreader is a swiss-army-knife for PDFs.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:05 AM on August 15, 2012

As FreezBoy said, GoodReader can handle both transfer and display. You can set it up to access a bunch of different kinds of servers (I use Dropbox and FTP, but I know there are other options), and even set up a sync function so all the employee has to do is hit the "sync" button in GoodReader to pull down any new PDFs or changes you've made to the files in a particular folder on the network.
posted by brentajones at 8:20 AM on August 15, 2012

Belated thanks for the suggestions everyone. I stupidly failed to mention that I don't have server access or anything like that, so that option's out. Also couldn't load them onto iPads and leave them, as the content will change unpredictably over time (we're talking legislation among other things).

At the moment I think Goodreader is probably the easiest option, syncing with Dropbox and/or Google Docs. Still waiting for feedback from the users though. Thanks once again everyone.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:52 PM on August 28, 2012

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