Use an iPad for work? We want to hear about it!

Serenity Caldwell

Managing Editor
Sep 12, 2014
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Hey all!

We're starting a new column on iMore about people who use their iPads for their job —*whether in part or totality. If that's you, I want to hear about it! Specifically:

- What do you do?
- When did you start using the iPad for your job?
- What apps and accessories do you use?
- How has it changed your work?
- Do you use the iPad in any extracurricular settings?

If you're interested in being interviewed for the column, email me, but let's get an informal discussion going here: Do you use your iPad for work? Would you if certain apps were available? I'm super curious about what everyone's doing.


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Mar 29, 2016
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Dunno if you would consider this a "job" per se since I'm an old retired software geek, but I keep pretty busy playing a trombone with a variety of ensembles, both large and small. I have been trying to put sheet music on a tablet device since the days of the iRex iLiad e-ink e-book reader back around 2006. I waited patiently and salivated through two or three years of rumors about a "big iPad" and placed a first day order when the 12.9" iPad was finally announced. Protecting the device on the bandstand, turning pages while playing, organizing large collections of sheet music of differing types all presented something of a challenge once the fundamental problem -- screen size -- had been overcome. I've been a bit of a trend setter in my small pond in that three of eighteen people in the Big Band I play with now carry their "book" on a 12.9" iPad Pro as well.


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May 31, 2014
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Hi Serenity,
The IPad Pro is a great tool for the construction industry. Owning my own construction company I use to to use a MacBook Air which worked great. My biggest problem was having the hassle of taking pictures of job sites and not being able to mark them up until IPad Pro and the apple pencil came out. Now I can mark up photos and blueprints and send them on their way in mins. Makes my job much easier. There is no better app then PlanGrid for that kind of use. Reading blueprints have never been so easy with the 12.9 inch IPad Pro. Everyday I'm marking up photos and blueprints and send them to a engineer or general constractors. All they way from Albany NY saying hello and thanks for the great topic Serenity.

Fine Cleaning & Acoustics LLC


Well-known member
Apr 26, 2011
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I use my personal iPad less and less. I'll explain that later.

For work we bought one as soon as possible years ago for the release thinking a large iPod/phone combo would be helpful at an event we do. Over time and we've bought dozens of them.

The parent company owns grocery, liquor store, deli, bakery, cafe, meat market and grocery delivery business units. Our HR department uses them for training. Our cafe and event operations use them for temporary vending and square. Our online shopping and grocery delivery operation uses them for the customer facing and back end applications. We have grocery carts with iPads on an industrial strength mount. Our order pickers use them to fill orders and do the check out before they go to delivery.

We also have dozens of iPad minis by each cash register in our stores for a partner shopping rewards system and house account charge system used on a college campus.

This is coming from an Alphabet and Microsoft stockholder. My efforts to use an Android tablet or Windows mobile products were just an ugly junk show compared to the iPad in the enterprise. The iPad consistency and app availability have been far superior. Read what I said about the grocery carts. I have lots of accessory options with iPads. The Microsoft Surface has changed things big time but basic iPads are all we need in the enterprise so I'm not spending 100%+ more on a Surface to get lower battery life and fewer accessory options. We're buying some Surface units but they won't do what the iPads do.

On my personal but professional iPad use. The 12" MacBook Retina, a 6S Plus and now 7 Plus phone effectively killed my own iPad use for anything but the NY Times and Wall St. Journal apps at breakfast or dinner. My iPad can't run a Windows VM, can't run enterprise apps, no good tools for VMware and EMC management like I have with a real laptop. I really like the iPad Pro models but for my work they don't do enough.


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May 9, 2013
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I sent an email detailing how I use my iPad as a teacher, and thought I may as well repost it here.

# How long have you been using your iPad for work?

Warning: Nostalgic rant ahead.

I am a teacher in a Primary School.

I started with an iPad 3 in 2012 (my first iPad), then bought an Apple TV shortly after when I learnt about its airplay mirroring feature and saw its potential in a classroom setting. Getting it up and running in my classroom was one learning point after another. The school wifi blocked AirPlay, which meant I had to get my own router, which in turn meant purchasing a 3G dongle and signing up for a data plan so my iPad could still be connected to the internet. Then there was the issue of the projectors in certain classrooms not having hdmi ports. Hdmi to vga adaptors distorted the image, so for a while, it was back to a MacBook Air running Airserver until finally, the projectors were upgraded to sport HDMI ports.

And at the same time, the other challenge was learning to get things done on an iPad so it would at least be comparable to my school-issued laptop in terms of functionality (else there would be no point). I have to credit Federico of Macstories for all the apps he has recommended. It was a messy period of testing one app after another, because again, it's rare that you find this one perfect app which does everything you want, so I found myself constantly evaluating the value of one app against another. I have included screenshots of my home screen, and you will see many apps inspired by how he uses his iPad.

Not to mention the process of getting my teaching material onto my iPad, which meant uploading them to Dropbox, and converting all the word documents to PDF format.

Fast forward to today. I upgraded to an iPad mini 2 (A5x just wasn’t cutting it), and am now using the 9.7” iPad Pro with 4g. The Apple TV supports peer to peer AirPlay, so I no longer need a router, and it is so much more stable. The Apple Pencil makes writing on PDFs a breeze. iOS has improved dramatically in terms of functionality.

# So how exactly do you use your iPad for work?

In the classroom, I mirror my iPad to the classroom interactive whiteboard (IWB) via a 3rd Gen Apple TV. My primary go-to app is Notability. All my teaching material is saved in dropbox and synced locally via Documents (and opened in Notability if need be). The key advantage here is that I have no problems working with pdf documents, unlike the rest of my colleagues (we are issued these Windows laptops with styluses, but lack the software to annotate on PDF documents).

This allows me to teach from anywhere in the classroom, which frees me up to circulate around the room and monitor my students more closely.

For classrooms where I can set up an Apple TV, it’s the lightning to VGA adaptor for me. I lose the freedom of moving around the classroom, but my app usage remains unchanged.

Other apps depend on the situation. I could set timers for timed assignments. Maps for a geography-based lesson. We are a heavy user of google apps, so I have all the google drive apps installed. Scanner Pro for quickly scanning any document I need in soft-copy (such as a student’s work) which I can then open in Notability to present to the class. The camera app occasionally gets used when I want to take photos of the class to upload to the class blog or as a makeshift visualiser (I have an iPad stand for holding it horizontally). Handy for when I want to demo a certain skill in real-time. Showme back when I was testing out the recording of lessons for a flipped classroom experiment (don’t do that anymore, but I kept the app installed because it makes an excellent whiteboard app).

Office is there just to open Microsoft documents while preserving the formatting. iWorks for documents I don’t need to share with other colleagues (love keynote for presentations).

Todoist is my main task management app. All my passwords are stored in 1password. Trying out Trello as an online resource repository. Copied saves text snippets which I expect to use on a regular basis, and to speed up the copy and paste sequence in general. I have also been playing around with Workflow and IFTTT, but haven’t really gotten the hang of them.

# What changed with the iPad Pro?

The Apple Pencil makes writing on PDFs a breeze. The iPad Pro is also extremely thin and light, and every bit helps when you are walking around the classroom holding it for an extended period of time. It is so much faster than my previous iPad mini 2, so less time waiting for apps to open and content to load and more time spent teaching. I don’t use the smart keyboard (primarily due to price, but also because my iPad is rarely used on a flat surface).

# Do you want to be able to do all your work on your iPad going forward?

I am always on the lookout for ways and means to get more work done on an iPad without the need to fall back on a computer (I have a 2011 27” iMac and a 2012 11” MBA as well), more for the convenience than anything else. For instance, spreadsheets are still a pain to edit on tablets.

My iPad Pro usually ends the day at under 30% batter life, and there are some days I don’t even switch on my computers at all.

# Do you use your iPad at all for personal/fun activities?

At home, my iPad is also my main entertainment device. I listen to podcasts (overcast app) and streaming music (Apple Music), watch youtube (with the protube app, as it supports PIP and background audio), Netflix, and do a ton of reading (Safari, Tweetbot, Reeder, Machash, Tapatalk for forums, Pinboard and a few other news aggregation apps), and light gaming as well. I also communicate using iMessage and Telegram, and sometimes make calls using continuity with my AirPods.

All in all, I like my iPad for its combination of portability, ease of use and battery life. I hope you enjoyed reading my post as much as I have enjoyed typing it.


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Oct 3, 2016
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I wrote a 72 page, 195 panel nonfiction graphic novel that reveals the previously unknown inspiration for the movie Eraserhead, which has its 40th anniversary this year. The 12.9" iPad with Apple Pencil enabled me to make large movements for long, smooth lines. Procreate was my main app, as it has a full feature set, allows easy rotation of the image for comfortable drawing, and allows sharing and deep customization of brushes. I used the Graphics app for titles and lettering. I still ended up going to the laptop for batch processing of the PNGs with Photoshop and integration into the final PDF. I use Dropbox to tie it all together. I tried iCloud, but had some problems syncing. Dropbox has been solid - just remember to click "make available offline" on the files that you will need before the aircraft doors close.

I also use it on the music stand in a community orchestra.

For "day job" activities, I find Evernote to be especially good. Rather than typing notes in meetings, I can write them and doodle in the margins when bored. (Does the latest version have handwriting recognition yet?) It's especially good at tradeshows and other places where you want to stand and take notes. Trying to hold a laptop in one hand while standing and typing with the other is a fail. Typing into soft keyboard on a phone or tablet is painfully slow. Writing with the tablet (or pad of paper) in one hand and a pencil in the other is the way it's been done for centuries. It just works.

But the core reason for the purchase was the graphic novel. It's a breakthrough device for digital art.


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Oct 6, 2015
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I start this off by saying that I use both a Surface Pro 3 & iPad Pro 9.7". I got the iPad Pro late last year in hopes that it would, for the most part, replace my Surface Pro. I will say, gladly, it has replaced it for the most part...It hasn't completely (100%) replaced it. I may turn my Surface on maybe once a week or less for the most part. Part of that reason is to back up both my iPhone 6s Plus & the iPad Pro. I have the Apple Pencil & it works perfectly!

I've come to determine that the Surface is a powerful laptop trying to be a tablet. It is able to accomplish to a great degree, but not totally. The iPad Pro is a tablet trying to be a laptop in some senses & it is able to accomplish this to a great degree. I prefer the tablet first concept.

What do I use it for? I use...
- MS OneNote & word the majority of the time for work productivity.
- OneNote is used the most as I can write, draw, & type on it.
- I take lots of notes mixed with typing on many occasions.

- I also edit photos, audio, & video files. I have found it to be quite proficient in this area.
- I now work with PDF's quite a bit & it does a great job. I use PDF Expert 5 which allows me to mark up & edit PDF's. MS Office apps now allow you to share documents & convert them to PDF files... That is very handy. I use that feature a lot!!

- Of course I search the web & I deal with email a lot as well. Works great!!

I prefer to use a Bluetooth keyboard case instead of the Logitech or Apple keyboards.
- I never fear the keyboard battery life, it lasts a loooong time.
- The keyboard case I use is a New Trent product. It allows me to set the iPad at any angle for typing, reviewing (Showing others), or taking notes.
- It also protects the iPad quite well. But I can easily (With a sliding switch) take the iPad right off. When I want to type on it, I want it to work somewhat like a regular laptop, but with a little mix of the simplicity of the iOS GUI.
- The case also swivels around & lays on the keyboard with a slight angle, perfect for taking notes on the iPad.

I use an app called FileExplorer. It is much like the Windows File Explorer.
- Connecting to Box & OneDrive (Very occasionally) is very easy & quick
- I also connect to my local network, shared hard drive very, very easily. I use it to back up a lot of files & share files between Windows machines, iPhones, & my iPad. - My preference is to store most things locally instead of the cloud.

Printing is great now
- Printing from my iPad to my HP printers is easy & does a great job.
- That was one of the reason I used to have to fire up my Surface, because the iPad would not see both my printers (Or it would see it for a minute or so, then disappearing)
- Side note, you can easily print from your iPhone 6s as well

I bought awhile back a thumbdrive that one end has a lightening connection & the other side has a regular USB connection.
- It allows me to transfer files very easily & this is a Must Have capability.

I multi-task a lot & use the split screen regularly too!

I will agree with some people that the iPad battery takes a while to charge, but I've found the battery lasts for a long time also - So, I'm perfectly happy with it.

Some people have said since they've gotten an iPhone that they use their iPad less, but I've found the opposite to be true. Now, I'd rather view webpages, edit documents & photos from iPad instead of the iPhone.

I got the iPad for the touch interface, the battery life, & lightweight portability...I didn't get it to completely replace an actual laptop/desktop.
- I wanted a device that can fulfill those functions, but also some functions that are best done on a laptop (Surface).
- MS Word is great to have on the iPad, but it doesn't offer nearly as many capabilities as the PC version.
- I have found that I can use the PC to create word documents with certain shapes, textboxes (Specific formatting needed), bullets (Not the basic ones) & then saving it as a "template" on my iPad - Then I can just use that.

In some documents it is a little awkward sometimes using your finger or the pencil when I would normally use a mouse. But then there are sometimes when you feel liberated that you now can use those methods to interact with the device/app
- For instance, graphic design is perfectly done by using a finger or the pencil
- Sometimes it would be much easier (and intuitive) to use a mouse when navigating thru a word document

I can say with confidence that I now probably use my iPad Pro 90% of the time & my Surface around 10% of the time. Most of the time it comes down to your needs & the GUI that you prefer. I have had to get used to doing some things in a different way, but I'd say it has been worth it.


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Jul 1, 2014
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Im retired but I do volunteer work for the California state parks and the Bureau of Land Management California. My job involves Trail reports, plant and animal studies and guided tours.

I use an iPad Pro 9.7 and/or my iPhone 7 plus, depending.

I started using it when I bought it in September IIRC.

I use no keyboard, I have the Smart Cover and I use the Apple Pencil.

I draw on maps to plan hikes.
I use Avenza maps to trace my hikes (currently working on closing some trails and building new ones so entire areas have to get remapped)

I take a lot of pics with my phone which then are transferred to my iPad when I have wifi, create documents for reports and studies, add diagrams, edit and share to various groups)

Favorite apps for my work: avenza maps, Maplets, pages, notepad+, notes, i tracker, the split screen is a gem I use that all the time.

I also teach kinesiology and nutrition, I use the visible body app a lot.

Extracurricular: iBooks, kindle, internet browsing, discussion forums, social media, music.


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Sep 29, 2015
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I'm a lead field archaeologist at a company based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota and we started using iPad Minis with Lifeproof cases while out in the field to record our data. We started using them in 2014. We purchased six of them and it's been a huge success. We record all of our data in iAnnotate PDF in forms we've personally created. It has streamlined my work at night when we get out of the field. All I have to do is go into iAnnotate and upload the forms into our private Dropbox folder and that's it. Depending on the WiFi, it only takes a half an hour.

Using the iPad Minis in the field is one of the best things my company has done.


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Apr 6, 2016
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I'm a ProAV (audio / video) integrator and have several apps on my iPad for design. Like what you see on tv, I can take a pic of a wall/room/etc. and design several possibilities of what it may look like once the large screen monitor, video wall, digital signage, etc., is installed. We also do lighting so I can show what the auditorium in schools looks like now vs possible completion. I also have an Apple Pencil that I use daily.


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Jan 15, 2017
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I am a Luxottica employee. I am a store manager for Sunglass Hut. Our company launched the use of the iPad in our stores 4 years ago. We have specific apps for our stores embedded into our iPad. Company chose Apple for its security as well as how well our daily work apps work flawlessly on the iPad.


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Sep 9, 2015
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Hi Serenity,

Not sure if the column is still going on. I'm a part-time musician, playing the church organ an piano. I've been using the iPad since the second generation to keep music scores on. I still use books also, because for studying not all editions are digital yet. It's great to have a load of music with you in case you want to play something that you haven't thought of before.
Recently i bought the new 12,9 Pro with apple pencil and that also changed the way I use it considerable, specially being able to write in a score is very useful.

Also all my communication goes via iPad, actually 99% of the stuff I do online is on my iPad, I do have a PC but only use that for gaming. Since I got the iPad 2 years ago, my pc has been doing less and less 'work' related stuff.


Ambassador Team Leader, Senior Moderator
Jan 8, 2012
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In the occupation I just resigned from, we used both iPad and iPod Touch devices.

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