Essential iPad Apps – Top 10

Quite often recently I have been asked by new iPad owners what apps they should get to make the most of their new toys.  So I thought I would do a blog post that covers the top 10 apps I use (in no particular order) and how they are set up.  The thing that makes the iPad a killer device is the apps, so it is worth getting right.  If you have other favourites, please share them in the comments below.  Here are the apps that help me get stuff done:

1.  GMail – I use GMail for all of my e-mail needs.  You can set it up to draw all your e-mail accounts in to one place, which saves a lot of time.  It also has some great tools for managing your messages.  The benefit of using the GMail app rather than the built-in app is that any changes made exactly mirror in the desktop app.  At the moment there is limited functionality, but it is getting better all the time.  Here are some tips and trick for the desktop app.

2.  Evernote – I use Evernote for all my notes.  I have written about the joys of Evernote before, and although it can be hard to see the benefit, once you get into it, you’ll love it.  I use it for all of my notes, thoughts, website bookmarks, scanned documents and even pictures of things I want to remember.  There are apps for smartphones and desktop PCs.  My scanner is a Fujitsu Scansnap and does duplex scanning straight into Evernote.

3.  Dropbox – I use Dropbox for all of my files.  The most impressive thing about Dropbox is that you never notice it.  Set up a free account and install the software on your desktop.  This will then give you a folder called ‘My Dropbox’.  Anything you place in that folder will be seamlessly synced to your account on the website and accesible from the app on your iPad.  I have set it up so that all of ‘My Documents’ are in ‘My Dropbox’.  Here are details on how to set this up and some others ideas.

4.  iTHoughtsHD – I use iThoughts for editing mindmaps.  This one only really applies if you are into mindmaps.  iThoughts opens the majority of file formats and saves them too.  It also works well with Dropbox (see above).  As an aside I use Freemind on my desktop.


5.  Web Albums – I use Web Albums for all my photos.  Again this is an app that works well with the desktop software I have chosen to use.  Google’s Picasa works great for me in terms of storing, editing and then uploading photos to the web (for back up and to help others view them).  The iPad app (not from Google) works brilliantly with the online photo storage (I have paid to upgrade to more space) and even allows me to upload photos.

6.  Air Sharing – I use Air Sharing for various file transfer tasks.  This is perhaps one that might not be useful for all users.  I like it because it can access files in Dropbox, GMail (i.e. attachments), Google Docs, online via FTP and on the device itself.  Not only that, but it can copy and move files between any of the above and open zip files.

7.  Quick Office Pro HD – I use QuickOffice to edit and view all my MS Office docs (Word, Excel and PowerPoint).  Dropbox can view files, but not edit them.  There are a number of apps that do what QuickOffice does, but when I was looking it had better reviews than the others.  The most important thing is that it opens and saves files using Dropbox, so there is no hassle in accessing any documents.  Not only can it edit PowerPoint presentations, but it even has a presenter view when displaying them on a second monitor.  It also works with Google Docs.

8.  Flipboard – I use Flipboard to handle all of my social media and website feeds.  It sucks in information from Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader (which in turn takes information from any website with a RSS feed) and then reformats into a magazine for you to read.  You can retweet, or comment on status updates within the app too.  It really can function as a one-stop-shop for all your online information needs.  Not only that, but it also has numerous information streams of its own if that helps you.

9.  Youverson – I use Youversion for reading the bible.  Not a lot to be said – it has every bible version I have ever heard of, and makes selecting verses and searching really easy.


10.  Trello – I use Trello to organise everything.  This is a newer one for me, and I am still working out how to get the best out of it.  However, I can already see that it is a great project management platform that handles collaboration really easily.  There is a helpful video which describes what it can do.  While there is an iPhone app that works on the iPad, it is not very good.  However, the web app is brilliant.  To use this simply navigate to your Trello board summary, once you have signed up, and choose to ‘Add to Home Screen’ in Safari (button to the left of the website address).  This will put a shortcut icon alongside your apps, and when you select it, you get the full web page without any Safari menus.

Of course, I have plenty more apps, but these are the ones I use most often when I am trying to be productive. They are all available for the iPhone too, but in many cases come into their own on the iPad.   Hope this has helped.  Feel free to share your own suggestions below.

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