The Apple iPad is a sexy little device, but I have no clues on how the OS on that thingy works, and since it does not come with a USB connection I'm having some problems with how data is moved around on that thingy.

  1. Apple sells a USB converter that you can plug into the iPad so you can connect it with a camera. But could I do the same with a portable drive like Western Digital Passport? Can I move images back and forth between the IPad and the Passport?

  2. Can I connect the iPad to a NAS and do the same: move images/stuff back and forth between the NAS and the iPad ...

Two topical scenarios would be:

  • Take a image from my canon camera, fix red eyes on the iPad and then store the image on a usb/mass storage device.

  • copy over the latest episode of my favourite show from the NAS, watch it on the IPad and then delete the copy. In some cases also be able to transfer files over the the NAS

Is this possible? Someone has told me the iPad is only a "viewer", and I understand it is not a creational device... the the simple scenarios described are my minimum spec

4 Answers 4


You'd need a computer to do those things.

I.e. you're be able to load the image directly from the camera, and edit them in an appropriate app, but then cannot move the image to the external drive (at least not with another app that allows you to do that). You can transfer the image back to your computer using iTunes, or share it e.g. using Dropbox and access it from there.

Regarding NAS access -- this might be possible (again) using an app that connects to the NAS and allows you to browse and open files there. The iOS itself doesn't expose any file system to the user, be it internal or external.

You'd need to use iTunes Home Sharing to do this without any additional software, requiring the NAS files being added to iTunes and your computer to be running.

What's possible on iPad (and any iOS device) is rather closely tied to the applications available for it. The system itself doesn't expose a lot of "power-user" features like (gasp) file system access to the user.

  • Apps like GoodReader have the capabilities to connect to FTP, iDisk, DropBox, and WebDAV servers and download content to the device. Once its there, as long as there is an app capable of opening it, it should open accordingly.
    – peelman
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 21:35
  • 1
    @peelman True, that's what I meant by "what's possible is closely tied to the applications". Unfortunately, none of the options you mention help Jason. Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 21:48
  • that sucks, doesnt seem like the ipad fits me, maybe the samsung tab or is it the same on it?
    – Jason94
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 21:55
  • 1
    @Jason We don't provide product or shopping recommendations. In fact, your original question can be considered off topic for this site, as it relates to an electronic device, not a computer. Please do your own research. Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 22:04
  • @Daniel might not help Jason, but it may give a lead to anybody else who happens upon the question :)
    – peelman
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 22:28

The simple answer to this is: use a cloud solution. There are a couple of free cloud storage service which are fantastic: dropbox.com and box.netfor example. They serve as a wireless NAS and many apps support in-app direct save and open files from those services.

Dropbox.com for example, allow you use your PC or Mac to download a small program, after you install and login, it creates a folder on your desktop. Now, go to your iPad and search for the "dropbox" app. After installing and log in, your iPad/iPhone now is sharing an online storage with your PC or Mac. Any files that are put in the Dropbox folder will show up on the iPad/iPhone.

Most files I share between iPad and iPhone are PDF and Word Files. There is an app called GoodReader, which supports dropbox. You can put the pdf/word into the dropbox folder on your PC or Mac, and then they will be accessible through GoodReader app.

Try the free dropbox app first and then search for other free apps that supports those services.

By the way, another great side benefit for using dropbox or box.net is that you can access all those files from any browser after logging in your account.


If you are willing to jailbreak the iPad, and are willing to live within the inherent limitations of the device, then yes, you can do this to some degree. It would require jailbreaking, then getting iFile from the Cydia app store. At this point you can manage the files on your own device. Next, to connect to other devices via USB, you will need to have a powered hub that all those devices are connected to, and then connect the hub to your iPad. Voila!, the iPad, iFile, and the devices should talk to each other just fine.

(You have to have a powered hub because the iPad does not deliver enough power to hard drives or similar USB devices directly.)

As far as a NAS, there may be an app already built that would permit management via the iPhone or iPad without jailbreaking, but to connect to a USB hard drive and manage any of the files you want will require a jailbreak and iFile and a powered hub.


I have a Synology DS213J and an iPad. I live in the Uk. Whilst visiting Chile, my photo 'workflow' was:

  1. Camera to iPad via Apple USB converter
  2. Upload to NAS via the free Synology DS File app and QuickConnect (which enables direct connection to the NAS from elsewhere in the world - with decent Wi-Fi).

Job done. Photos safe.

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