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We have a shared iPad at work which is used for trade shows etc.

It is a pain to only be able to copy content to this from one PC, i.e. one nominated shared PC with iTunes on it. We have Windows XP on the PC currently.

Is there a decent way of plugging an iPad into an arbitrary PC and loading content on to it, while not breaking iTunes sync?

I've tried Dropbox but that will only allow us to stream the video within the Dropbox app, rather than download and save it into the Movies app. We really need to save the video content on to the iPad for offline playback.

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migrated from Jan 19 '11 at 17:31

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

Instead of syncing have you tried the Manually Manage option? Then you can load content to it from multiple PCs without doing a complete sync. – Ryan Sharp Jan 25 '11 at 16:55
@Ryan, exactly what I was looking for. In fact this is correct answer, which solves issue described in question – sergtk Apr 7 '13 at 0:01
up vote 9 down vote accepted

You can use the "File Sharing" feature of various apps THROUGH iTunes, but without having to actually SYNC with iTunes.

Install the free CineXPlayer app. This will allow you to play a much broader range of videos.

Then plug your ipad into any computer with iTunes installed. iTunes will recognize the device, and let you browse it WITHOUT syncing it. If you go to the "Apps" tab inside the device's pages in iTunes, you'll see CineXPlayer listed below, in "File Sharing". Select CineXPlayer and drag movies to the "Documents" pane.

Ta da!

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This sounds like the right kind of thing. Will give this a go later. – tomfanning Jan 20 '11 at 8:50
  • Use a free cross-platform program like Handbrake to convert your video into an iPad supported format
  • Take an SD card that you've used with a digital camera and put your movie(s) into the DCIM folder
  • Use the camera connection kit to load the movie. For all the iPad knows, it's a movie you shot with your digital camera
  • Note that the movie will load into your "Photos" and not your "Videos" - that means there are some limitations (no recognition of chapters, no resume functionality) but it will work very well and is a much easier solution than anything that uses a connection to a computer or to the cloud
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+1 for creative workaround – AJ. Mar 13 '12 at 16:49

"Instead of syncing have you tried the Manually Manage option? Then you can load content to it from multiple PCs without doing a complete sync. – Ryan Sharp Jan 25 at 16:55"

Contrary to this being the top rated answer, this is incorrect. In order to actually choose the Manually Manage option, you must first sync the device with that target computer. I just tried it and it tells me that it will erase all content on the iPad and then I will be able to manually manage. This is a DRM requirement.

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Ryan's answer isn't the top rated answer as you say, it's a comment on the original question. Just sideload using apps that support file sharing through iTunes. – tomfanning Aug 5 '11 at 14:01

There is PadSync if you are on a mac:

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Thanks, we're all PCs (Windows XP) though. – tomfanning Jan 20 '11 at 8:51
@tomfanning I've added this detail to your question and tagged it appropriately. You can always edit your question if you find it needs more details if some answers surprise you or are less useful. – bmike Aug 18 '11 at 20:02
@tomfanning. I don't think that he meant it JUST for you since 1000's of people read this forum. I am a Mac user and found that link useful – user20072 Mar 13 '12 at 15:40

You can also use Buzz Player or Buzz Player HD. Allows you to copy media in from a PC or other device on a network thru the wireless connect, without the need for the USB cable. It works great and you can download the app from the Apple Store.

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I regularly do this with GoodReader. Despite it billing itself as a PDF reader, it has relatively wide support for playing various different types of videos (as well as being an all-round good file manager/viewer too). You can get files on and off in two ways, neither of which require iTunes:

  1. By using GoodReaderUSB, which allows you to copy files on and off a USB-attached computer. This is probably closest to what you asked for.
  2. By using the inbuilt support to expose GoodReader's filesystem via WebDAV and on a web console you can log into from any machine on the same network.
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This is far down the list of answers, but I consider it by far the best option. GoodReader is basically an S/FTP /WebDAV client, file manager, etc. It's the closest thing you can get to having something like the "Finder" in iOS. I will work with any computer which supports those protocols. GoodReader is a 'must have' utility IMO. – TJ Luoma Jul 23 '13 at 18:42

If you want to avoid iTunes completely, there are out there 3rd party applications to do the same, one of those is called iTransfer

It's not for free but does the job.

alt text

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Thanks - I don't want to break the iTunes sync relationship with this particular laptop though. – tomfanning Jan 20 '11 at 8:51
you don't break anything, this just offers a way to upload files without it. – balexandre Jan 20 '11 at 15:23

You can avoid all this iTunes/sync nonsense by letting the iPad directly acquire files via the network. I know of two apps that will let you connect to normal file sharing (SMB/CIFS) on your Mac/PC and play directly via the network or save to the ipad for offline playback. The only disadvantage is you have to play the files back using their app instead of with the built in 'Videos' app.

  • OPlayer HD ($4.99) - Works with iOS compatible formats plus supports avi/mkv/wmv formats without conversion, transfer files with SMB, FTP, HTTP or via DropBox.
  • FileBrowser ($4.99) - Same price, but only works with standard iOS compatible content (h264 MP4, MP3, AAC, JPEG, etc) and only connects via SMB.
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