Is it really possible to go iPad Only???

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Is it really possible to go iPad-only for the average professional? This is a question that has been circulating around the Internet since the beginning of the iPad and most recently discussed in detail in this excellent post on asianefficiency (AE). Some argued then and still argue now that the iPad is best for consumption and maybe light email work. Others argue that the iPad can definitely replace PCs for many professional workers. My feeling is more nuanced. I believe some professionals can go iPad only. However, I really believe that an iPad can help almost all professionals be more efficient overall. What follows is a summary of why I will likely continue to have both my iPad and my Windows laptop in my brief case.

  1. I am not iPad only nor do I plan to be iPad for all that I do. However, I am iPad only for all aspects of this blog including writing, editing, maintenance, etc. I am also iPad only for writing and editing the upcoming major update to my iPad Productivity eBook. However, for the day job I am far from iPad only.
  2. I love the idea of going iPad for all the reasons described in the AE post. Its wonderfully small form factor and instant on capabilities make the iPad one of the lightest computing platforms around. The Macbook Air 11 is of course similar in size, but I am Windows-only at work and I have never felt compelled to invest the additional dollars for the laptop, $599 for the iPad Air 32 vs. $899 for the cheapest Macbook Air 11. And, the process to mold the Mac to my Microsoft-based work environment would be almost as difficult as it is on the iPad. So, why spend more dollars for a work environment that would only be marginally better than with the iPad, at least for my own work situation?
  3. For certain things that I do I appreciate having full versions of Word and Excel in addition to two large monitors. I do agree that the iPad can be more efficient in that there is never more than one application on the screen at any given time. However, there are times that having the real estate of two monitors and multiple apps is essential for some of the heavier business analysis that I do.
  4. I work from home between one and two days a week and when I go into the office I generally focus on being present to my employees both via one on one meetings and via office meetings and collaboration. For those meetings I am a copious note taker using my automated notetaking workflow. I am working towards keeping my heavy analytical work for the days I work from home and my lighter email/planning/light office work for those days that I am in the office. The motivation for this shift is so that I can leave my laptop docked in my home office with its multiple-monitor setup while only taking my iPad to the office for everything else. And, this could include interacting with and manipulating very large and complicated spreadsheets given the power of iPad Excel. However, I do not enjoy creating complicated spreadsheets from scratch on the iPad.
  5. I travel at least once per month and I have been fairly focused on using only my iPad during my last few trips. I have not left the laptop home yet, but I am close. Traveling with just an iPad knowing that I can do most things that I would ever need to do is a freeing discovery. I just need to take the leap and simply leave the laptop home.
  6. My workflow does depend on some key apps and processes which I will describe in a future post. However, I do agree with many of the ideas described in the Asian Efficiency post. As a preview, my key apps include OneDrive, Microsoft Office 365 including all three primary apps as well as OneNote, VMWare View to access a Windows virtual machine of my work environment, Drafts, Evernote and to a lesser extent Dropbox and Box. More on this to come.
  7. Others have said before that certain professions lend themselves to iPad only. Writing is certainly one of the professions that comes to mind. I bet there are also some clinicians that could be iPad only with the right electronic medical record. However, there is no way that a finance person whether it be a financial analyst or an accountant could go iPad only. Nor do a think engineers of any sort could go iPad only. These professionals are very dependent on sophisticated departmental systems and powerful computers.

There you have it, some of my brief thoughts on where my iPad sits in my day to day workflow. Yes, I do want to use my iPad as much as possible and I generally strive to do so on most days. However, like many have said in the past having a full computer with either one or multiple large monitors is simply key for some workers, myself included. However, the whole purpose of this blog is to write about ways that the iPad can be used to become more efficient. And this is where the fun is, finding new and fun ways to save time and become more productive.

Have you tried to go iPad only? If so, how have you been able to accomplish this feat? If not, why not?


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How to work with PDFs on your iPad


PDF handling is one of the more productive capabilities of the iPad. Many PDF functions done on a computer are sometimes more efficient on the iPad. Some of the major PDF functions include Creating, Annotating, Combining, Scanning and Text capture. There is no one application that accomplish all of these functions well, but with a combination of several of the more robust apps you can efficiently handle all of these functions from your tablet. The above mindmap shows a few of the major apps broken down by function and as you can see there is no one app the crosses all of the major work functions. However, with a few of the better apps you can transition your PDF work to your iPad. Read on to learn how some of the major apps can save you some time and maybe even make dealing with PDFs fun.

Creating PDFs from office documents is an infrequent function for me, but I like appreciate having ability to do the conversion on my iPad. The app I have used for years for creating PDFs is PDF PROvider which I wrote about in this post. To convert you can “Open-In”; documents sent via email into PDF PROvider and then convert the document. However, PDF PROvider also connects to Dropbox for file syncing and provides for some basic annotation. The free version just supports “Open-In” functionality, which means you would simply email a file to yourself if you need to convert. Other apps that support converting PDFs include PDF Export and DocAS. PDF Export charges $2.99 which provides additional functionality like merging, splitting, cloud storage access (Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, SugarSync, etc.) and annotating. DocAS for $6.99 also converts documents to PDF but adds note taking features including typing and stylus writing. Additionally, DocAS provides a presentation mode for displaying content via a projector.

Annotating PDFs is by far the most common function done with PDFs. I am sure many of you receive PDF documents that you need to review and sometimes comment on. Most people print these out and write comments and then have to complete the additional step of re-scanning the document. With the iPad these additional steps are unnecessary. One of the first apps I ever bought for the iPad is GoodReader and it has been part of my regular workflow since my first iPad 1. With all of its functionality and capability, GoodReader does bring a lot of complexity as you can see from this screen shot.


Even after using GoodReader for years I still have to think about how to annotate a document. Because of this complexity I recently tried an app called PDFpen. This app does not have all of the functions that Good does, but PDFpen does a few things very well, specifically annotating as you can see from this shot; two clicks on the main user interface to get to the annotation tool.


Combining PDFs may be a more infrequent function for some, but for me it is a monthly occurrence as I create packets for my company's board meetings. Even if you do not find yourself combing PDFs now, the function may be useful for those times you send multiple files within an email; combining these files into one larger file is a cool way to improve your recipient's experience. And, the additional benefit of combining files is that the original document type become irrelevant once the original document is converted to a PDF. Of the apps I have mentioned above, GoodReader and PDF PROvider both provide combine functionality. The process in Good to combine PDFs is to open the multiple page layout view (button on the bottom of the screen with four boxes) and then click Append on the bottom right side of the screen. From here you simply navigate to the file you want to append within your cloud account.


Scanning documents into PDFs is an incredibly easy way to eliminate paper from your life at the entry point, i.e. as soon as it hits your hands. There are lots of scanning apps available for the iPhone and iPad and I have tried many over the years. My current favorite is Readdle's Scanner Pro. However, there are plenty of great scanners out there not the least of which is Smile's PDFpen Scan+. My recommendation is to try several of them starting with Scanner Pro and choose the one that is easiest and fastest for you as the quicker you get at scanning documents the more likely your home or office stays paper free.

Text capture is a function I don't do much myself, but if you receive lots of PDFs via email from colleagues you may benefit from PDFpen Scan+'s capability of converting a PDF to text, called optical text recognition (OCR). To test this functionality I imported my free, 19 page Introduction to iPad Productivity ebook and hit the OCR button in Scan+.


After about 5 minutes of processing, Scan+ completed the process and I was able to paste all of the text from my ebook into Drafts. The scanning did include the screen prints in the book which resulted in some strange results, but overall I was able to access all of the important text from my document.


As you can see there is little you can not do with PDFs on the iPad. In fact, I rarely use my computer these days for PDF processing, even for combining many files into one document packet because it is just so easy and convenient to use the iPad. Try one of these apps for one of the major functions mentioned above and you may find yourself using your iPad a little more for productivity and a little less for watching videos.

Have you tried any of the apps mentioned above? Have a I missed a PDF that you really like?



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Automated notetaking with your iPad and Evernote (Guest Post)


My new guest post on Daniel E. Gold’s Blog is up! The piece is a combination of several posts I have written over the past year about the excellent service TaskClone. Combining this service with Drafts and Evernote is a way to shave minutes off of note-taking sessions by automatically capturing tasks to your chosen task manager. How many times have you taken notes in a meeting either on your iPad or on paper and then did not have the time for several days (or ever) to capture the action items for yourself and your team? I believe this delay increases the likelihood that the tasks will not get done. With the process described in the post you can eliminate this delay altogether. Take a look and tell me what you you think.

Have you tried the workflow? Is it working for you? Have you adapted the workflow to make it better? One example of an alteration of the workflow is this post by Peta Hopkins. Peta updated the workflow to create tasks in Exchange using a script she found on the Internet. If I was using Outlook Tasks I would surely give this a try.

P.S. If you have trouble with the Evernote Template link in the post, try this version instead.


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Contacts Journal for iOS is easy to use; great way to stay in touch with clients [Tabtimes Post]



Have you ever wished that the Contact app in iOS had more functionality? Wouldn’t it be great if you could use your contacts to track follow-up calls, emails and texts all in one place?

There are ways to hack this functionality with Evernote as well as by using high-end CRM apps like (if you work for a company large enough to afford it), but for simple contact management functionality, Contacts Journal – Professional and Personal CRM for iPhone and iPad is a solid solution.

Read my new guest post on Tabtimes to learn more about how Contacts Journal for the iPad can improve how you manage your contact relationships.

DISCLOSURE: The links above are affiliate links. This means that I earn a few cents if you click the link and purchase the app. This costs you nothing but it helps me keep this site running.


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How to PDF Microsoft Office files on your iPad

Are you a Microsoft Office user on the iPad? Given how many downloads Microsoft has had since their release I am sure than a few of you out there. If so, have you noticed that Microsoft does not provide a Save-as PDF option in any of its Office apps for the iPad? I discovered this myself the hard way recently when I was working up a few presentations and a document for a board meeting. Being the iPad person that I am I was determined to find a way to do this on my iPad rather than breaking out the laptop. After much trial and error I came across two ways, one extremely simple and one a bit more complex. It would be easier for me to just describe the easier one, but the more complicated process has some value as well. Read on to learn two methods to create PDFs from your Office documents directly on your

There are two methods to create a PDF from Microsoft Office files, the first involves the use of apps called FileBrowser and PDF PROvider as well as OneDrive and Dropbox. The second process only involves creating your file and then locating that file in I will be reviewing FileBrowser in the near future, but in summary it allows you to see all of your various cloud accounts in one place and like a PC allows you to move files been the various services, including OneDrive. I have been using the second app PDF PROvider for several years as a way to convert Office files emailed to me to PDF using “Open-In”. There are surely other apps that can accomplish the conversion, but this is the one I am most familiar with and one I know can access Dropbox directly. The basic process using FileBrowser and PDF PROvider is as follows.

  1. Download and installed FileBrowser and PDF PROvider. Connect FileBrowser to your OneDrive and Dropbox accounts. Connect PDF PROvider to your Dropbox account.
  2. Create a Word, Excel or Powerpoint document on your iPad and save it a OneDrive folder.
  3. Open FileBrowser and locate your file in OneDrive, select it by hitting the small icon to the right of the file name. Select the Copy option. FB
  4. Navigate to Dropbox and select a directory to copy the file to.
  5. Open PDF PROvider and find your file in Dropbox after clicking the Documents button on the top left-side of the screen.
  6. Click the arrow to the right of your file name and select Convert to PDF. convertPDF
  7. Click the PDF button on the top right of the screen. Find your file and click the arrow again to the right of the file.
  8. Select Open-in and navigate to OneDrive and select the appropriate location to store the file. You could also choose Dropbox if you would rather store the PDF here. However, you could skip this step and simply email the file where ever you need it. However, if you want to save the file elsewhere follow this additional step. As you will notice, PDF PROvider does not allow you to move the file back to your Dropbox account for some reason, it keeps the files it has converted resident within the app.
  9. That’s it!

Check out this short video that walks you through the steps:


The second way to create a PDF from an Office file on your iPad involves accessing your OneDrive account from Here are the steps.

  1. Create a Word, Excel or Powerpoint document on your iPad and save it a OneDrive folder.
  2. Open, click on the OneDrive icon an navigate to your file. one
  3. Open the file and click Print. Microsoft automatically converts the file to a PDF and presents you with the option to preview the file. PDF
  4. Click Preview and then click Open-In. Select OneDrive and upload your file to your chosen directory.
  5. You now have a PDF version of your Office file in OneDrive!


Check out this short video that walks you through the steps:


That’s it. Yes, the first process is a bit more involved, but it does show you how to move files between cloud services using the very useful FileBrowser. However, the second process is a lot easier and quicker.

Have you noticed the lack of a save-as PDF option in Office for the iPad? Have you found an easier method to convert files?

DISCLOSURE: The links above are affiliate links. This means that I earn a few cents if you click the link and purchase the app. This costs you nothing but it helps me keep this site running.


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SEVEN reasons to choose Microsoft Onenote instead of Evernote

I love Evernote, in fact I credit my Evernote productivity journey on the iPad as being a big reason for my blog’s growth over the years. I even published an ebook focused on leveraging Evernote on the iPad. But, the sad reality is that many corporate executives can not use Evernote to organize their notes across their own devices due to corporate security policies. Unfortunately for me my company is one of them. However I do have access to Microsoft Office 2010 at work and with it Microsoft Onenote. I also am able to use Microsoft Onedrive as well. Because of the potentially large numbers of corporate users that can not use Evernote on their iDevices and the fact that Microsoft Office is still the corporate standard for many people, I figured it was time to check out Onenote. Can I leverage my iPad and Onenote to access my work notes without using the public cloud? Can I manage my tasks using Exchange and Onenote on my iDevices? Can Onenote leverage my work Sharepoint sites and allow me to share notes and information as easily as Evernote allows me to? These are the questions I will seek to answer in my next series of posts.

Have you ever tried Onenote? Ever heard of Onenote? I had noticed the icon on my desktop and most all screens in MS Exchange since upgrading to 2010 a few years ago. Being the Evernote nerd that I am, I never felt the inclination to try Onenote out until recently. The Evernote hack as well as the growing realization that there are many people who can not access Evernote from their work computers has me thinking twice about Onenote. In addition to more security, there appear to be many additional reasons to consider Onenote as a valid notetaking app. Here are seven that I have come up with so far.

  1. Microsoft Onenote is included with corporate editions of Microsoft Office.
  2. Onenote 2010 and later versions have a very simple interface and is easy to use for Evernote veterans.
  3. Onenote is cohesively integrated with most aspects of Microsoft Office including Exchange, Sharepoint and Onedrive.
  4. Onenote includes some of the important features of Evernote including notebooks, tags, tasks, note linking and searching capabilities.
  5. Onenote can integrate across iOS devices via Microsoft Onedrive.
  6. Onenote integrates directly with Exchange Tasks. This means that tasks created within Onenote automatically create tasks in Apple Reminders if you have integrated your Exchange Account directly on your iDevices.
  7. As I mentioned, Onenote can sync via the public Onedrive which has the same security challenges that Evernote and Dropbox do. However, Onenote also supports sync’ing via Onenote Business and Sharepoint. This means that if your company supports Office 365 or provides internet access to Sharepoint, you can leverage Onenote securely and have the same convenience that Evernote provides.

That’s my seven reasons and I am sure there are more. Check out this post for some further thoughts on Onenote on the iPad as I have been using Onenote now for almost a year across my work laptop and my various iPads. I can’t say that I like Onenote as much as Evernote, but I can say that Onenote has provided me a secure way to access my work notes across all of my devices.

Have you been using Onenote on your iPad? What has worked? What hasn’t?

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Free eBook: Introduction to iPad Productivity

As a busy blogger and iPad "expert", I get asked all the time about the tools I use to be productive on the iPad. So I decided to write a small book explaining some of the basics, the things that will get you using your iPad for work rather than play. This eBook is not a replacement for my iPad Productivity eBook, but rather an introduction for those of you ready to leave the laptop at work.

You can’t buy this eBook. There’s only one way to get it—by subscribing to my FREE email newsletter. Don’t waste any more time lugging that laptop around. Sign up today!

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