Edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Documents on Your iPad

Last Updated Mar 28, 2011 12:35 AM EDT

Conventional wisdom tells us that the iPad is a great device for consuming content, but not much of a tool for creating it. True, the keyboard is lacking, but the form factor is so nearly perfect that I've started carrying mine around instead of a laptop. It is more than adequate for e-mail and other routine tasks, but what about editing Microsoft Office documents? Apple's productivity suite might be fine for light work, but it doesn't play well with your existing Office documents. That's okay: I've got a great alternative that does.


Documents To Go is now available for the iPad, and it remains our favorite mobile office suite. Rick told you about Documents To Go for the iPhone last year, and the iPad update carries over everything we liked about it back then, and adds more.

These days, for example, Documents To Go lets you read and edit Word, Excel, and (if you get the Premium edition) PowerPoint documents (when the program debuted for the iPhone, only Word documents could be edited).

You get a handful of essential editing capabilities -- in Word, for example, you can change font and paragraph styles, add bullets and numbered lists, and perform search and replace. There's even a word count tool -- handy for writers. Excel documents have formulas and a variety of cell formatting. I'm especially jazzed that you can actually update PowerPoint decks (though you have to revert to a text-only view of the slides while editing).

The best thing about Documents To Go, though, is the myriad ways of getting at your files. You can open e-mail attachments, of course, and use the desktop app to sync files from your PC to the iPad (which it does wirelessly, without any need for iTunes synchronization). With the Premium edition, you can sync with Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, and SugarSync. Bottom line: If you keep files online, Documents To Go can probably connect to them.

The basic version of Documents To Go costs $10, or you can get the Premium edition -- which includes PowerPoint and synchronization with the cloud -- for $15. If you have an iPad, it's money well spent. I'm getting close to being able to leave my laptop home all the time.

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