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It happens to the best of us – we like one Apple product but don’t care too much about “the ecosystem” and simply want to use this one product (in this case the iPad) alongside our PC, not a Mac.
If you’re here, then you’re looking for the best ways to copy files from your Windows PC to your Apple iPad and vice versa – you’ve come to the right place! With iPadOS 14, and iPadOS 15 on the horizon, transferring files from and to an iPad has become easier than ever.
We’ll start with the method Apple wants you to use, but feel free to skip it if you don’t wish to install iTunes on your computer.
Jump to a preferred method:
Method 1: Via USB and iTunes
Like we said, this is the method Apple wants you to use, so if you’re cool with installing iTunes on your PC – go with that one.
- Step 1: Download and install iTunes
Simply download iTunes for Windows. If you’re using a modern Windows PC, that would be the 64-bit version.
Run the downloaded setup file and follow its instructions. When iTunes is installed, you should be able to find it as an icon on your desktop or Start menu.
- Step 2: Connect the iPad and PC with a cable
Launch iTunes and connect your iPad and PC with a USB cable. You should be able to use the cable that came with your iPad’s charger for this.
Your iPad may ask you to grant the connected PC access to your files, tap Allow.
Now you can already access your iPad’s Photos folder on your PC with Windows Explorer.
However, do you wish to transfer files, videos and music to your iPad to use with the Files app or, say, VLC? If so, let’s continue.
On your PC in iTunes, click the little iPad icon that you’ll see near the top-left corner, when the iPad and PC are connected. We’ve marked the icon for you below.
Afterwards, click on File Sharing from menu on the left. You’ll see all of your apps that have folders you can transfer files to and from.
Since this process is still clunky, we’ll have to use one of those apps as a container to store your files in. I usually use Chrome. You can also use VLC or whichever app you see here. But in my case, I’ll mouse click on Chrome.
Now under Chrome Documents, simply drag whatever files you wish to transfer to your iPad. This isn’t limited to images; you can transfer pretty much any files you want. In my case I’ll drag a song under Chrome Documents, and in seconds, that song has been transferred.
When you’re done transferring whichever files you want to from your PC to your iPad, and there’s no progress bar to suggest that a transfer is still going on, feel free to disconnect your iPad from your PC and close iTunes.
- Step 4: Access your files on your iPad
Now on your iPad open the Files app and navigate to the Chrome folder. There you’ll find the file(s) that you’ve just transferred from your PC. Feel free to move them to other folders.
Method 2: Use a USB stick
This is my personal preferred method, as it’s quite fast and simple. The problem is, you may need an adapter if your USB stick isn’t Type-C (to plug into the iPad) or if your PC doesn’t have a Type-C port.
Connect the USB stick to your computer and simply transfer whichever files you want to it.
Now connect the same USB stick to your iPad. The USB stick will appear in the Files app as shown below. If it doesn’t, make sure your iPad is updated to the latest iPadOS version.
And that’s it! You can now select and copy the files from the USB stick to a folder on your iPad.
Method 3: Use a cloud storage service
This might be the slowest method of moving large files around, but the fastest method of moving small files like photos from your iPad to PC, and vice versa. Why? Because it relies on the speed of your internet connection and cloud storage of choice.
Speaking of which, if you don’t have one, for this method you’ll need to download a cloud storage app on your iPad.
I use Microsoft’s OneDrive app, but you can use any cloud storage app you prefer, as most of them work similarly. Once OneDrive is installed and set up on your iPad, you can open it and upload files to it from said iPad.
Whatever you upload to OneDrive, you can access it on your PC via the OneDrive app for Windows or online from your browser. Similarly, of course, you can upload files from your PC to OneDrive, then download those files on your iPad.
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