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5 Essential iPad PDF productivity tips

by Raymond Aguilera

March 30 2012

If you spend large chunks of time working with PDFs on your iPad, consider these five tips essential reading.

The iPad has been criticized as being mainly a device for content consumption. But as use of the iPad in business settings skyrockets, it's clear that there are a lot of iPads out there that are taking care of business. Here are five of our essential tips for getting things done on your iPad.

1. Ditch iTunes for Dropbox

Syncing PDFs (and any other documents) via iTunes is cumbersome and slow. Instead of going through an entire sync just to add some PDFs to your iPad, use Dropbox to move documents to your iPad. It's fast, and totally free.

Head over to Dropbox.com to set up an account, and download the Dropbox client for your PC, Mac, or Linux computer. Then download the iPad app from the App Store. Whenever you need to move PDFs, put them in your Dropbox folder. On your iPad, open Dropbox, and open whatever documents you need from the cloud. If you want to permanently store a document on your device, tap the star icon to mark it as a favorite, for access when you're on a plane or otherwise offline.

2. Organize PDFs in iBooks

Without a file system to speak of, managing lots of PDFs on the iPad can be challenging. One easy fix is to import all your PDFs into iBooks. Simply choose Open in iBooks when tapping on a PDF file on your iPad. By default, the PDF will be added to a collection called PDFs.

If you've only got a few documents stored, that might be enough, but you can create new collections for better organization. Tap the Collections button in the upper left corner, and then tap New to add a collection. To move a PDF into a collection, tap the Edit button, select your PDFs, then tap Move and choose a destination.

3. Download PDFs from the web

Sometimes you need to download PDFs on the go. There are tons of great PDF readers in the App Store that are up to the task, but if all you need to do is quickly grab a file from the web, iBooks has another trick up it's sleeve. Navigate to a PDF in Safari on your iPad, and an Open in iBooks button will pop up in the title bar (which fades away quickly, but tapping on the PDF will bring it back). Tap Open in iBooks, and your PDF will be added to your bookshelf. From there, you can use the previous tip to file it in a specific Collection.

4. Complete & sign forms

The paperless office doesn't exist yet, so you can't avoid filling out forms and contracts. With PDFpen for iPad, you can simplify the process. Save time by editing forms on your iPad, and exporting the completed document for printing, archiving or sending via email. Save frequently used blocks of text such as addresses and company names, and easily create a digital signature to make filling out forms as fast as possible.

5. Use any printer with AirPrint

AirPrint, the iOS printing feature Apple introduced in iOS 4.2 is incredibly useful. But unless you have a late-model printer that suppors, enabling AirPrint on a older printer can involve complicated command-line procedures. FingerPrint from Collobos Software runs on PCs or Macs, and turns any networked printer into an AirPrint destination.

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