If you frequently use Excel to create and edit spreadsheets on your Mac, you may want to access the same files while you’re on the go with just your iPad. Although Microsoft hasn’t released an iOS version of Excel, you can still work with Excel files on your iPad if you’re willing to accept a few compromises.
View Excel files on your iPad
If you only need to view Microsoft Excel documents, you’re in luck; Apple’s iOS can display them natively. All you need to do is get the spreadsheets onto your iPad—for example, email them to yourself as attachments, or use an app designed for transferring and viewing documents, such as Avatron Software’s $10 Air Sharing, Good.iWare’s $5 GoodReader for iPad (), or Readdle’s $5 ReaddleDocs for iPad ().
Dan is Macworld's Executive Editor and, thus, the senior Dan on staff. More by Dan Miller
When you want to edit Microsoft Office documents on your iPad, you’re not limited to Apple’s iWork, Google Docs, and third-party office suites. Three apps, in conjunction with their respective cloud-based services, let your iPad connect to a virtual Windows server running in the cloud and run the Windows version of Microsoft Office remotely: CloudOn; nivio; and OnLive Desktop. Here’s how they compare.
Opening up CloudOn, you don’t feel like you’re connecting to a remote Windows desktop. Instead, it looks like a file browser. CloudOn connects directly to your Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive cloud-storage account, and the app opens with a directory listing of those accounts.
If you were to break into an office building not occupied since the mid-70s, there’s a good chance you’d see tacked to the wall a pine-based receptacle labeled Suggestion Box. This padlocked box would have a slot on top that allowed for the insertion of small slips of paper—each one containing a hastily scribbled note complaining about Fred in Accounting.
The physical suggestion box has largely disappeared, but there’s no reason for its functionality to, particularly if you’re willing to spend a little time with Automator. In the following few paragraphs I’ll show you how to construct and automate a virtual suggestion box so you can get employee feedback. These instructions work in both OS X 10.7 (Lion) and OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion).
Like everyone else, I need to keep track of lots of bits of information. Some of those bits are as simple as the brand of salad dressing my wife likes; others are as complex as an outline for a multi-year project at work. Whatever the size, origin, and purpose of these bits, I keep track of them all by saving them in a reliable system of plain-text notes—a system that enables me to find any bit of information whenever I need it, in a form that makes sense to me when I do.
This system is based on two simple principles: All notes are saved in plain-text files, and I follow some basic but strict guidelines for creating and storing them.
Unlike the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad was designed with the needs of typists in mind. The screen size, the large virtual keyboard in landscape orientation, and the support for external keyboards make the iPad a natural choice for word processing on the go. For many people, that means reading, editing, and saving Microsoft Word files. Even though there’s no iPad version of Word, you can work with Word files on your iPad if you’re willing to accept a few compromises.
Read Word files on your iPad
Just need to read Microsoft Word documents? All you have to do is get the documents onto your iPad; Apple’s iOS can display them natively. For example, you can email documents to yourself as attachments, or use an app designed for transferring and viewing documents, such as Avatron Software’s $10 Air Sharing, Good.iWare’s $5 GoodReader for iPad, or Readdle’s $5 ReaddleDocs for iPad ().
One of the more interesting—and less visible—new features in Mountain Lion is the ability to encrypt almost any disk. OS X has long offered the ability to encrypt your startup disk using Apple’s FileVault, but Mountain Lion extends this feature to other disks, even to simple USB flash drives. Here is an overview of how this feature works, how you can encrypt and decrypt a disk, and what options you have when doing so.
Encrypt a disk from the Finder
This new full-disk encryption feature is well hidden in Mountain Lion. Typically, you use Apple’s Disk Utility (in /Applications/Utilities) to work with hard disks or other types of removable media. Disk Utility can erase, partition, and repair hard disks, but curiously, it cannot encrypt a hard disk.