iPad tip: Downloading large files

filer - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

One of the issues of the iPad and Safari is when you’re trying to download large (supported) files. By default, it will open the files and load them completely before giving you the ability to put them in other apps and things like that, and if you’re dealing with large documents you may never get that far. I’ve had PDF files as large as 200MB that I’ve needed to download, and if you try going the direct Safari route with these then you’re basically screwed because Safari will try to both download/buffer 200MB and open the file at the same time.

The solution to this is to use a file downloading app that acts much the way downloads do with desktop browsers. In my case I use Filer, which aside from a useful unzipping feature also has a built in browser where you have a proper file downloader. In fact it has a download mode, which lets you download the target of any link you see- be it the website it’s linking to or documents, archives etc. By using this app I can download my giant PDF files and then open them in iBooks. It gives me a proper download progression bar and doesn’t try to open files while downloading, meaning it has no trouble with 600 page PDF files.So if you ever run into large files you need to download, keep this in mind!

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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5 thoughts on “iPad tip: Downloading large files

  • Good to know. That practice of buffering/opening while downloading seems weird. Is it not annoying even when handling smaller files?

    I think I’d rather it finish the download and be done with it :P

  • Do you know, how files are generally handled with those open-in options?
    In several situations i had the probleme, that they were coppied into the other app…
    Both were apps with integrated filemanagament, goodreader and vlc. Do you think, this could be the source of the Problem?
    After I’ve tried to open videofiles stored in goodreader, i had them viewable as folders in iTunes in the vlcapp(coppied…) and they are Not deletable anymore…

    • “open in” always copies. That’s the function of it. That’s because iOS apps only read from their own directories, not those of other apps

      • so, if you work with some monster-pdf’s, downloading them in app xy, opening them in yx to work on them, sending them with yy and finaly storing them in xx, you always have to tide up inside your apps to protect the ipad from getting filled over with the same files?

        • Essentially, yes. But in all fairness, it’s easier to clean up files that way rather than on a computer where you end up finding files all over the place because your 3 different browser use different download directories, various app save in random folders all over the place and you have half an HDD worth of temporary files


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