If you’ve got an iPad or an iPad mini, you'll be well versed in Apple's App Store. After all, an iPad without any extra apps on board is barely an iPad at all. With the hundreds of thousands of apps out there you may well have a handle on the kinds of apps you like, and be quite content.
But how much do you use your iPad to work with documents, spreadsheets or presentations? If you aren’t doing so at all, you may well be missing a trick.
The iPad has an on-screen keyboard that’s large enough to type on. Even the keyboard on the iPad mini is large enough for some people to use comfortably. And if you don’t like the touchscreen approach there are plenty of hardware alternatives built into cases or stand alone. Logitech, Adonit and others make cases with built-in and removable keyboards, and there's Apple's own Bluetooth keyboard if you prefer.
If you currently carry a laptop around with you to send emails and edit documents, then it's well worth trying out your iPad as a much more portable substitute. It’s lighter, smaller, switches on in a jiffy, has excellent battery life, doubles up for a host of other functions, has Wi-Fi and - on 3G models - data connections, in fact it might well offer everything you need.
Take a look in the app store you’ll find lots of different apps designed to provide you with word processing features. One of our favourites is Quickoffice Pro HD. It costs £13.99 (at the time of writing), which is fairly expensive for an app, but compared to the cost of a full office suite on a PC, it's a bargain.
We like it because it's versatile yet easy to use. It’ll do as well for outlining a report as for writing the report itself. It is fully compatible with Microsoft Office and has the ability to create, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2010 documents as well as supporting the older .doc. .xls and .ppt file formats. You can save files as PDFs too, and even print using AirPrint.
Other bonuses include a spelling checker and various fonts, support for tracking changes and an extremely useful feature – the ability to download from and save to Dropbox. That means you can pop an important document into your Dropbox in the office and carry on working on it on the train or while you're waiting for a meeting to start without needing to lug the laptop.
How to use Quickoffice Pro HD on an iPad
1. Go to the App Store and search for Quickoffice Pro HD. You should see it at the top of the list of results along with information about the app and a button to buy and install the app. It shouldn't take too long to install.
2. To add your Dropbox to Quickoffice Pro HD, first tap the small plus sign at the bottom left of the screen, then choose Dropbox from the options available. There are plenty of other popular services here, too.
3. Enter your Dropbox login information in the next box that appears on screen, then tap Sign in. Then, tap Continue to access your Dropbox account. The account will appear on the left side of the screen beneath the On iPad file store icon.
4. Tap the Dropbox icon or the On iPad icon and use the centre pane to navigate through folders. A right-hand frame will give a view of subfolders or files, tap the one you want to open. Alternatively tap the small New Document icon bottom right of the screen and select a document type.
5. The main document editing window is easy to work with. Use the Top row for all formatting commands. To copy and paste just tap and hold on any word, then choose Select and drag the left and right bars to cover the area you want to work with. You can then cut, copy or paste as required.
6. Use the right-most tool on the upper toolbar to select font and font size. Just sweep a finger up and down to use the scroll wheel to make selections. You can apply choices from the cursor point forward, or to text as selected in step 5. Use this tool to set up bullets with the paragraph tool and change font colours too.
7. Relatively new in Quickoffice is support for Track Changes. Call this up by tapping the icon that looks like lines of text, then use the select tool to designate areas for commenting or tap ‘track changes’ and then start making your edits. If you have received a document with tracked changes in it, the Accept and Reject buttons come into play.
8. Many people are required to write to a specific length, and Quickoffice Pro lets you find out how many words are in a document. Just use the magnifying glass tool on the upper toolbar to get a word count of the whole document. Select an area such as a paragraph first to count only the words in a selection.
9. Find and replace is a tool that can be invaluable. Use the magnifying glass tool to open the 'find and replace' bar and the changes are easy to make. Use the left-hand box to search for words in your document, and the right-hand one to enter the replacement words.