Documents – The App of All Trades

If you have an iPhone or iPad, there’s one app you absolutely must have – Documents [iOS – free]. This is the Swiss Army knife of apps. With Documents, you can read Office and iWork documents, PDF documents and ePub books. You can listen to music and even watch movies. But that’s not all. Documents also includes an impressive file manager too. You can sync with Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive and more. There is a built-in browser making it possible to save web pages as HTML or PDF files, save bookmarks and download files to Documents.

Opening Screen in Documents

When you first open Documents, you will notice several folders – iPod Library, iTunes Files, Photos and Downloads. You can create additional folders as needed. The sidebar on the left displays tools and cloud storage services. The Documents item at the top of the sidebar returns you to this screen. You can access your iCloud folders from here and there is even a built-in browser. Readdle offers a number of useful apps like Scanner Pro, PDF Expert and PDF Converter. When installed on your iPad, they are easily accessible by tapping Add-ons.

It only takes a minute to set up the cloud storage services you use so you can access files you have stored there. Tap the +Add command and follow the prompts. In this example, I have connected to my Dropbox and Google Drive accounts.

A good place to start is opening the Documents Guide. It’s short, but it covers all the bases and you will be soon on your way to putting Documents to work.

Using the share sheet to copy a PDF file to Documents

You can use your browser to download documents from the Web. This example shows a PDF newsletter displayed in the Safari browser. First, you must add Documents to Safari’s share sheet. Tap the Share icon in Safari’s toolbar. If you don’t see the Documents icon, keep scrolling to the right until you see the More icon. Tap it and scroll through the options until you find Documents and activate it. Now all you have to do open the share sheet and tap the Documents icon to save the file.

The Documents Web Browser

Documents includes its own web browser. It doesn’t have all the features a “big” browser does, but it’s got what you need. In this example, I have a blog page open in the browser and I want to save it to Documents. Tapping the share icon makes it possible to bookmark this page, save the page or email it to someone. After choosing the save option I am presented with an options panel. I can save this page as an HTML document, PDF document or a Web Archive file. By default the browser will save the file into the Downloads folder but that can be changed in the options panel. After making your selections, tap the Done button.

The Save File options panel

Once you’ve got your documents where Documents can access them, you are ready for a very enjoyable reading experience. Below you see a page from a National Park Services guide that was downloaded as a PDF.

The Documents Reader

This example shows the current page. Swipe left or right to move through the document. Tap anywhere on the page to display the reader’s tools.

The Reader’s tools

Looking for something specific within a document? Tap the search icon and enter your search string. The tiny black box at the bottom of the screen is the slider. Drag it left or right to quickly move through the file. You can also bookmark pages within a document and highlight text.

Documents isn’t just for reading either. It offers some impressive collaboration tools too. As you see, there’s an impressive collection of annotation tools – great if your team is working on a writing project. Documents supports files created in Pages, Word, Excel, Numbers and more.

Documents file management tools

To make all this document collection and collaboration possible, the app has an impressive file management capability. It starts by tapping the Edit icon at the top right corner of the screen. The documents on that screen are now selectable and the sidebar displays the menu. Select the menu option you need and it will prompt you through that process. The Edit icon changes to a Done button so you can complete the operation.

This is just a taste of what Documents can do. And best of all . . . it is free!

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