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Alternatives To Apple’s iWork Apps For Managing Microsoft Office Files On An iPad

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Best-selling author and avid iPhone/iPad user Jason R. Rich offers a handful of solutions for iPad users who want to create, view, edit, print, and share Microsoft Office-compatible files and documents on their tablet, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheet files, and PowerPoint presentation files.
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From a design, functionality, and value standpoint, Apple’s own iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) for the iPad are among the very best that are available. Each of the iWork apps are sold separately ($9.99 each), and they transform the tablet into a full-featured word processor, a tool creating and managing spreadsheets, or a presentation tool that allows users to create and showcase digital slide presentations.

The iWork apps are also fully compatible with iCloud, as well as the Mac editions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, making it very easy to transfer data files and documents between the iPad and a Mac OS desktop or laptop computer.

Using functionality built into these apps, they’re also Microsoft Office-compatible. Thus, a Microsoft Word document can be imported into or exported from Pages. A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file can be imported into or exported from Numbers, and a Microsoft PowerPoint file can be imported into or exported from Keynote. All three apps also support the creation of PDF files to insure compatibility as documents and files are transferred between devices and computers utilizing different operating systems.

While all three iWork apps work nicely with the tablet’s built-in virtual keyboard, the speed and accuracy of someone’s touch-typing and data entry is greatly improved when an optional external keyboard is used with these apps. An optional keyboard also offers arrow keys (which the virtual keyboard does not) that make it easier to accurately move around within a document or file.

Beyond the functionality of what Pages, Numbers, and Keynote offer when it comes to Microsoft Office document and file compatibility, a handful of third-party apps available from the App Store offer alternatives for creating, viewing, editing, printing, and sharing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and files via an iPad.

Finding Office-Compatible Apps Within the App Store

In addition to the apps you’ll soon learn about, to find additional iPad apps that offer Microsoft Office document and file compatibility, access the App Store from your tablet. Within the Search field that’s located in the upper-right corner of the screen, enter the search phrase “Microsoft Office.”

Along with apps that offer Word, Excel, and PowerPoint compatibility, you’ll discover apps like Microsoft OneNote for iPad and Outline: OneNote Notebook Reader, which are fully compatible with the computer edition of this popular note-taking software.

One way these third-party apps make wireless document and file transfers and syncing possible is through the use of cloud-based file-sharing services, including Dropbox and Microsoft SkyDrive. Unlike the iWork apps, they’re not all compatible with Apple’s iCloud service, so it may be necessary to set up a free account with an additional cloud-based file sharing service.

Most of these apps, however, also offer the ability to email documents and files from within the app in order to export them to another computer or user, or accept incoming emails with the appropriately formatted documents or files attached (via the iPad’s Mail app).

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