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I am attempting to access a PDF file on my network from my iPhone and I know how to access these files from Windows OS.

However since I have an iPhone 5, I don't have the knowledge to make that device work with my existing network files.

I have attempted several apps and none seem to work. I am not interested in changing my network to support iOS. My intent is to absolutely have something on the iPhone to access the same sort of files I can from my Windows laptop when connected via VPN.

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    What protocols does your network support? Webdav, AFP, SMB, NFS, some other file sharing? Depending on where the files are stored and what sharing options you have chosen, you might be out of luck or you might have hundreds of free apps to allow iOS to tap into your files. It's hard to guess without some details on your setup. Even listing the specific apps you tried might help someone provide a meaningful answer. – bmike Dec 3 '13 at 1:29
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I recommend FileExplorer Free. I just installed it to access files that I wrote on a SD card in my WiFi router. I have an iPhone and iPad. FileExplorer can use CIFS, SMB, FTP and others. It can read many formats such as PDF, video, photos, music and Microsoft Office. There is priced version for five dollars.

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Our University recommends "Filebrowser" by Stratospherix, available from the app store (non-free, but less than EUR 10.) I have a free cripple-ware "Lite" version (which I don't see in the App store at the moment), which supports Windows and Mac shares and a bunch of cloud services. If you haven't tried it out yet, you might want to take a look.

PS. Sorry if this is too much like a "shopping question" answer. I have the impression they're less off-limits here than on other sx sites (though still frowned upon)...

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You're not specific enough by what "on my network" means, but since you mention Windows, I'll assume you want to access files via CIFS protocol.

There are several apps on the app store for iPhone that claim to offer the ability to access files shared via CIFS. Rather than enumerate them, or recommend any since I haven't tried any, I'll just suggest you search the app store for CIFS. (one word)

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The only built in iOS app with network access is Safari, so if "first party software only" is your rule then you'll need to set up a web server to host your PDF content.

If a local web server is out of the question, you'll need to investigate a 3rd party app. I'm partial to Dropbox but there are dozens of other choices.

  • To answer the questions above. I am using a standard windows network with multiple fileservers. When at a previous site in 2007 I used an HTC Windows Phone and was able to access many files on my Windows network with no issue for use during meetings. I had hoped to have the same sort of abilities with an IPhone. Otherwise we will need to purchase windows tablets for this purpose. Or change over to a windows phone. I have tried multiple apps from the app store and so far each one required me to install some process on a PC in our offices to allow the access. Not acceptable. – Dan C Dec 3 '13 at 18:49
  • Sorry @DanC, looks like iPhone is not for you. As I said, there is currently no native way in iOS to access a file on a remote server other than Safari. There are a multitude of 3rd party options but it sounds like they won't fit your usage. – jsd Dec 3 '13 at 22:04

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