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Every file in every meeting when the iPhone is near

Buzzing from meeting to meeting, most of my notes are in my office. Notes, presentations, past and future… they are either in print or on the desktop. This has long been a problem for anyone who doesn’t do all their meetings from a single location or have everything on their notebook.

I do have a notebook… but I also have an iPad and I have a both work and personal computers that I use intermixed. About a year ago, I pulled the trigger on all handwritten notes are getting scanned to PDF. Now with the iPad, I used Note Taker to write those same notes, then export right out of the app to PDFs.

Then, there are Word docs, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks. When you think about documents sent to you from others, how many do you actually need to edit. They are generally for reference only.

iOS4 has brought about the ability to move documents around the iPhone. If you have a document in an app, most can be viewed by multiple document readers/editors. The effort has always been how to get those files to your iPhone for later reference. At first, most solutions had the files staying on your desktop and then you accessed them through software on both ends. Some worked better if you were on the same network, others worked better over the internet.

Finally, Cloud storage appeared. You have several ‘cloud’ options… most cost money (Google, Amazon, Microsoft), but two well known are free, Dropbox and Box.net. I have gone the direction of Dropbox due to it’s ease of getting files into my Dropbox folders and the quantity of apps avail that work directly with the service.

Using the Dropbox app, you can access any of the folders of documents you have set up on the system.

Within folders, you can see the files. It is nice to have the icons for quicker referencing. Like I mentioned before, most files are for looking at and not editing so in almost all situations I save my PowerPoints as PDFs. This small step makes viewing easier, more apps can view and other than animations you have a better chance of keeping the original layout.

Taping any file will open it to be viewed right in the Dropbox app. Load time is very fast even on the 3G network… wifi of course is even faster. Someone mention notes from the last meeting they sent out, seconds later you zipping through them while everyone else is commenting that they should have printed those and brought them to the meeting.

The icon on the lower left corner of the screen brings up a list of options to handle the document. As you can see, I have Documents to Go so I can edit documents that might need to be updated, iBooks for reading PDFs that are more of book layout, AirSharing for the documents I want to push back to my notebook via WiFi if I don’t want to transfer via Dropbox, GoodReader for more advanced PDF reading, FTPOnTheGo for site page updates (some flat file/spreadsheets) and iUnArchive for files that are zip compressed.

The icon on the lower right corner is for sharing out to those folks that asked if you would be so kind as to share what they didn’t bring. It is also handy when at a client’s location. Never worry about not bringing the files along, you can hand out a link to a file via email or paste into a document. I did mention Dropbox Cloud and iPhone app are free, right?

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