Working with Documents on Your iPad (An Excerpt from “iPad in One Hour for Litigators” by Tom Mighell)

Adapted and excepted from iPad in One Hour for Litigators by Tom Mighell, coming in March from LPM Publishing. Pre-order your copy today and save 15%! 


Getting Electronic Documents onto Your Getting Electronic Documents onto Your iPad

Let’s answer what is probably the most important question for this lesson: How do you get documents onto the iPad in the first place? It’s a good question, and I’ll give the standard lawyer answer—it depends. You can move files onto your iPad in a number of ways, depending upon your preferences and how you plan to use the documents.

Document-Sharing Service. The most common way to get documents onto your iPad is by using a document-sharing service like Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, or SpiderOak. I prefer Dropbox because it integrates with most of the apps I recommend in this book, but there are some security issues of which you should be aware before using it.

Dedicated Server. Instead of using a commercial cloud-based service, you may decide to set up your own “personal cloud,” or download files to your iPad via a dedicated server. Bigger law firms are starting to create their own document sharing “services” by setting up servers with a direct connection to the lawyer’s iPad. Some of these server types include WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), SFTP (Secure File Transfer Program), AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), and SMB (Server Message Blog). You can configure apps like GoodReader to work with servers like these, so you can download files directly with a greater level of security.

Email. If you don’t want to use a cloud-based service or file-server option, you can always email documents to yourself, and then open the attachment in the app of your choice. Once you’ve sent an email to yourself, open the message on your iPad, and press on the attachment.

When you press Open In . . . , you’ll see a box that contains all the apps currently installed on your iPad that you might use to view the attachment; just navigate to the app you want, and the file will open up in that app. You will also see an option to Print (for use with an Air-Print-enabled printer) or to take a Quick Look at the document without leaving email. You now also have the ability to attach the file to a separate message for mailing to someone else, by pressing on the Mail button.

The biggest downside to moving documents onto your iPad using email is that it must be done one attachment at a time. With services like Dropbox, you can move entire folders of documents onto the iPad at once, which makes it much more efficient and convenient. Still, the email method is best for those of you with security concerns about cloud-based file-sharing services.

File Sharing in iTunes. Another way to move files onto your tablet in bulk is through File Sharing in iTunes. Here’s how to do it:

• Connect the iPad to your computer.

• Launch iTunes (you must be using iTunes 9.1 or greater to take advantage of File Sharing).

• Once iTunes connects, select your iPad from the Devices section, on the left.

• Click the Apps button on the menu across the top, to see all of the apps currently installed on your device.

• Scroll down below the apps, to the section marked File Sharing.

There you will see a list of all the applications that support File

Sharing, including (hopefully) the one you want for your case files.

• Click on the application into which you want to move files.

• You can move files in one of two ways:

  • Click the Add button, which will bring up a dialog box that allows you to select the files you want to add.
  • Simply drag and drop your files, or even entire folders, directly onto the Documents list from the folder on your computer.

Using the File Sharing option in iTunes is good for the bulk movement of documents onto your iPad; however, to do it you will need to be connected to your computer, while the other two methods can be accomplished with a wireless connection. You can do this either by connecting the iPad to your computer, or by enabling the Wireless Sync feature in Settings.


Scanning Paper Documents to Your iPad

What if, instead of providing you with electronic documents, your client or the other side provides you with paper records? If you already have a process established in your practice for scanning paper to PDF or TIFF files, then there’s no need to change that process; simply scan the documents and move them onto your iPad using one of the methods described above. If, however, you don’t have such a process, or you happen to be at your client’s office and someone hands you a few records you’d like to quickly scan, why not use a scanning app to move the documents directly onto your iPad?

Just search for “document scanner” in the App Store, and you’ll be presented with dozens of options. I’ll mention two apps that I can recommend for all your scanning needs. The first is Scanner Pro When you open the app, the layout and options are very simple; you can either take a picture of something you want to scan, or use an image that’s already in your Photo Library. For example, to scan your client’s handwritten notes of a conversation he had with the other side, press the camera button to activate your iPad’s camera. Once you take a picture of the page, you’ll have the option to define the borders of the document yourself or to select the entire image. You can also specify the paper size of the document you’re scanning as Letter, Legal, Ledger,

Business Card, or A3/A4/A5. Press Done, and you’ll go to a page where you can adjust the brightness and contrast, rotate the document, and select between Photo, Document, or Grayscale. Press Done again, and your scan is complete. If you have a multi-page document, just press the camera button again, and you can scan as many pages as you want. Once you’re done scanning, press the Actions button in the upper right, and you have a number of different options: emailing or printing the scanned document, uploading it to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, or a WebDAV server, or opening it as a PDF or JPEG in another app on your iPad. The high quality of the scans, as well as the sharing actions, make Scanner Pro a valuable app to own.

One thing that Scanner Pro can’t do, however, is apply OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, to your document. If you want to be able to annotate the document in a PDF app, or search it for terms relevant to your case, you are going to want an app that offers OCR capability. Snap-2PDF  is such an app. It works much the same as Scanner Pro. You take a picture of the document, and then you’ll get options to rotate, crop, or apply OCR to the document. Add any other pages to your scan and adjust those images, then press Done. Your options with finished scans are a bit limited compared to Scanner Pro. You can only forward the file as a PDF or upload it to a Dropbox account. But keep it for those times when you need to create a searchable scan.


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