12 iPad tips and tricks

Get the most from Apple's new tablet

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Don't worry about battery life. We're used to using mobile devices that are constantly in danger of running down. Notebook users at airport gates fight each other for access to electrical sockets, like barbarians in The Road Warrior fighting over gasoline. Cell phone power users carry multiple battery packs. And the iPhone has notoriously poor battery life.

What's worse is that hardware manufacturers habitually lie about battery life. If a notebook vendor says the battery lasts six hours, you can figure it probably lasts three.

But, refreshingly, that's not the case with the iPad. Apple advertises 10 hours battery life, but reviewers report it can get 11-12. That's even if you're watching movies the whole time, which is usually a notorious power drain. Using the Wireless Keyboard seems to drain the iPad more quickly, but not a lot more quickly.

In practical terms, this means that whether you're at home or on the road, you can just charge your iPad overnight and it'll be good for a full day's work or play the next morning.

Be very careful exporting documents from the iWork apps. The procedure for syncing documents between Apple's iWork suite on a Mac and on the iPad is a pig. It's a blemish on Apple, which normally delivers a great user experience. The docs don't really sync at all; you have to manually import and export them from the iPad, which potentially creates versioning problems if you want to switch between working on a document on the Mac and on the iPad.

Click the button on the left to export a document from the iPad
Click the button on the left to export an iWork document.

To export a document from the iPad, first open Pages on the iPad, go to the "My Documents" area and select the document you want to transfer to your Mac. You'll see three icons at the bottom of the screen. Tap the one on the left that looks like a piece of paper with an arrow shooting out of it. Select "Export," and choose the format you want to export the document in. Wait for the export to finish.

Now connect your iPad with the sync cable. In iTunes on the Mac, click on the iPad in the left column, under "Devices." Click the "Apps" tab. Scroll down to "File Sharing." Click on "Pages." Click the document you want to import, and click the "Save to..." button. Select the folder you want to save the document to.

importing a document on the Mac
Importing a Pages document on the Mac.

This is easier than it reads, but it's still a pain in the neck.

The dangerous part is what happens if you import a document from your Mac to your iPad, work on it on the iPad, keep the name the same, and fail to export it back to the Mac. You'll see the document listed in iTunes, but it's not the new version that you made the changes on -- it's the old version that was on your Mac.

This happened to me. What's worse, after I thought I'd correctly copied the document from my iPad to my Mac, I deleted the document on my iPad, and I lost several hours of work. Let me be a bad example -- don't make the same mistake.

Apple really needs to replace this horrible user interface with simple wireless document syncing between the iPad and your Mac.

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