How to transfer files to iPad: While not a great computer expert, since you bought your iPad you haven’t had to resort to instruction manuals or online guides once to use it. You’ve managed to surf the Internet, watch videos and read eBooks on your own, but now you’ve come to a point where you’re stuck: you’re trying to transfer files from your PC to iPad but can’t find a way to succeed.
Let me guess: you connected your iPad to your computer via the supplied USB cable, entered My Computer but failed to copy the files to your tablet. Right? Well, this happens because Apple does not want the iPad to be used as a USB stick or portable hard drive and allows you to transfer files to it only through iTunes or the applications installed on the device.
Either way, there is nothing you need to worry about. With today’s guide, I will explain how to transfer files from PC to iPad in a “traditional” way, that is by connecting the tablet to the computer and exploiting the potential of Tunes, and using some third-party applications, in order to transfer videos, music , photo books and other types of files from computer to iPad without going through iTunes. Are you ready to get started? The instructions are valid for both Windows PCs and Macs. Happy reading!
How to transfer files to iPad using iTunes
Let’s start by seeing how to transfer files from PC to iPad in a “traditional” way, that is through iTunes, Apple’s multimedia software that is included “as standard” in macOS, up to version 10.14 Mojave, while it must be downloaded separately on Windows PCs.
If you have a Windows PC and haven’t installed iTunes yet, get it from the Windows 10 store . If, on the other hand, you have an older version of Windows, connect to the Apple website and click on the Download button on the left.
At the end of the download, start the installation package called iTunes6464Setup.exe and click in sequence on the buttons Run , Next , Install , Yes , Yes and Finish to complete the setup.
If you have a Mac equipped with macOS 10.15 Catalina or a later version of the Apple operating system, you cannot use iTunes (as it is no longer supported by the platform): instead, you must use the Finder , selecting your iPad icon from the bar left side. The rest of the steps to take are pretty much the same as we are about to see with the help of iTunes.
At this point, connect your iPad to the computer using the supplied Lightning / Dock cable, wait for iTunes to start and confirm the communication between the two devices by answering affirmatively to the warnings that appear on the computer screen and on that of the computer. ‘iPad.
You are now ready to transfer your files from PC to iPad. Then click on the tablet icon that appears at the top left of the main iTunes window and choose which content to copy or sync to the iPad.
If you want to synchronize all the music in the iTunes library with the iPad, select the Music icon located in the sidebar of the program (under the heading Settings ), put the check mark next to the items Synchronize music and all library music and click on the Apply / Synchronize button located at the bottom right to start the data transfer to the tablet.
If you do not want to synchronize the entire iTunes music library with the iPad but only some albums, artists or playlists, put the check mark next to the item Playlists, artists, albums and selected genres , choose the contents to copy to the tablet and click on the Apply / Synchronize button located at the bottom right.
Don’t want to keep iTunes music library in sync with iPad music library? No problem. If you want, by selecting the Music icon located at the bottom of the iTunes sidebar (under the heading On the device ) you can copy music tracks to the tablet without keeping the changes synchronized with the PC. All you have to do is select the files to copy to iPad and drag and drop them into the iTunes window. The songs will automatically be added to the iOS Music application.
Note: If you are an Apple Music subscriber and have iCloud Music Library service turned on, you cannot sync your iTunes Music Library with iPad. All the music is automatically channeled to your online library (in order to be synchronized on all devices).
To synchronize the videos in the iTunes library with the iPad, select the Movies icon located in the sidebar of the program (under the heading Settings ), put the check mark next to the item Sync movie music , select the videos from copy to the tablet and click the Apply / Synchronize button to complete the operation. Alternatively, you can also put the check mark next to the item Automatically include movies and copy ALL the movies in the iTunes library to the iPad.
If you do not want to keep the iTunes and iPad libraries in sync, select the Movies icon located at the bottom of the left sidebar (under the heading On device ), drag the videos you want to copy to the tablet in the iTunes window and the game it’s done. Movies will automatically appear in the iOS Videos app.
If you have an iPad Pro with a USB-C port, you can take advantage of a USB-C to Lightning cable to transfer videos from iPhone to iPad or a USB-C to SD adapter to import videos from a memory card to your tablet.
Apple USB-C to SD Card Reader
Note: Only MP4, MOV and M4V format videos are supported. If you want to copy other types of videos to iPad you have to convert them first (as illustrated in my guide on how to convert video to MP4), or you have to turn to third-party apps like the ones we will talk about in the next chapter of the tutorial.
Would you like to copy some photos to the iPad memory but you don’t know how to do it? Don’t worry, this is child’s play. Thanks to iTunes you can copy a collection of photos from your PC and keep it synchronized with the iOS Photos app in a very simple way. All you have to do is select the Photos icon from the iTunes sidebar, put the check mark next to the Synchronize photos item and choose the folder with the images to copy to the tablet via the Copy photos from drop-down menu .
So choose whether to synchronize with the iPad all the folders contained in the selected path or only the selected folders and proceed with the data transfer by clicking on the Apply / Synchronize button located at the bottom right. If you use a Mac you can also sync the library of the Photos application or some albums of the latter.
If you have an iPad Pro equipped with a USB-C port, you can take advantage of the solutions mentioned above (the USB-C to Lightning cable and the USB-C to SD adapter ) to import photos to your tablet.
Apple USB-C to SD Card Reader
Note: if you have activated the iCloud Photo Library service, you cannot synchronize photos with the iPad in the “traditional” way, through iTunes. You have to upload the photos to your online photo library and they will be automatically synchronized on all devices.
Have you downloaded an ebook or PDF document from the Internet and would like to copy it to your iPad? Then select the Books icon from the iTunes sidebar and drag it to the main program window. That’s all! The book or document will automatically be copied to the iPad ‘s iBooks app.
If you are using a Mac, you can achieve the same result by opening the macOS iBooks application and copying the book or document of your interest into the main window of the latter. Thanks to iCloud synchronization you will also find the file on the iPad.
Following the steps we have just seen together, all the selected files are copied to the default iPad applications: Music for Music, iBooks for Books, and so on. If you want to copy your files to third-party applications (eg Infuse for videos or Notability for PDF documents) you need to take advantage of the file sharing feature in iTunes.
To use iTunes file sharing, select the App icon from the program’s sidebar, scroll the screen that opens up to the file sharing list and select the name of the app you want to copy your files to. So take the file you want to copy to the iPad and drag it to the box on the right.
Note: You can also sync data to iPad wirelessly if you want. All you have to do is select the Summary item from the iTunes sidebar, put the check mark next to the Synchronize with iPad via Wi-Fi item and click the Apply / Synchronize button located at the bottom right. For wireless sync to work, iPad and computer must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Applications for transferring files to iPad
Do you find iTunes too inconvenient to use? No problem, as mentioned at the opening of the post there are numerous alternative applications that allow you to transfer files to iPad in a very simple way. They work wirelessly, this means that by connecting your computer and iPad to the same Wi-Fi network you can transfer files to your tablet without using cables. Great, right? Then read on and find the application that’s right for you.
The first software I recommend you try is called Send Anywhere . This is an application that, once installed on your computer and iPad, allows you to transfer any type of file from one device to another using a simple confirmation code. It is compatible with all iPad models and all major Windows editions. It is also available for Mac, Linux, Android and is accessible via the Web (where, however, it allows you to upload files as large as 1GB instead of 20GB as happens in desktop and mobile applications).
To download Send Anywhere on your PC, connect to the program’s website and click on the Download button located under Windows. When the download is complete, open the program installation package ( SendAnywhereSetup.exe ) and click in sequence on the Yes and Next buttons . Then put the check mark next to the item I accept the agreement and complete the setup by clicking on Next for four consecutive times, Install , Next and Finish again . If you are using a Mac, you can download Send Anywhere directly from the Mac App Store .
When installation is complete, start Send Anywhere, click on the Send button (located at the top left) and drag the files you want to send to the iPad in the program window. Next, press the Send button and pin down the code that is displayed on the screen.
Now start Send Anywhere on the iPad, press the Receive button , type the code displayed on the computer and the files selected on the PC will be transferred to the tablet. If you are using Windows and asked if you want to allow Send Anywhere in the system firewall, answer yes.
Note: If you’re using a Mac, you can also take advantage of AirDrop , an Apple wireless technology that uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to share data between two devices. It is compatible with iPhone 5 and later and with most Macs produced after 2008. To find out more, read my guide on how AirDrop works.
Would you like to be able to transfer files to iPad and manage them freely as if you were using the Windows Explorer or the Mac Finder? Then you absolutely must download Documents by Readdle , a free file manager that allows you to view and manage files on iPad in a very simple way.
It also includes a handy Wi-Fi data transfer feature that lets you copy files from your computer to iPad without going through iTunes. To exploit it, just select the Network item from the left sidebar, press the cleats icon at the top right and connect with the browser from the computer to the address displayed in the app (eg 192.168.1.4 ).
If you do not see the cleats icon at the top right, activate the Wi-Fi data transfer function in Documents by going to the app settings (the gear icon at the top left), selecting the Drive Wi-Fi item from the screen that opens and setting the Activate Drive option to ON .
If you need to transfer videos to iPad, I recommend using VLC which is completely free, supports many video file formats (including AVI, MKV and all other file formats not supported by iTunes) and allows you to copy files to your tablet. both wirelessly and traditionally using iTunes file sharing. Its only limitation is that it doesn’t support AC3 audio tracks, but unfortunately no free iOS player supports them.
To activate the VLC wireless data transfer function, press the application logo (the traffic cone) located at the top left and move the lever for the Sharing via Wi-Fi option to ON . Then connect from the PC to the address that appears in VLC for iPad (eg. Http: //iPad-di-Andrea.local) and drag the videos to be transferred to the tablet in the browser window.
If you need more details on how the application works or want advice on other video players for iPad, read my guide on how to put movies on iPad.