Upload an app file from iPad to iMac / iTunes

If you upgraded your iMac to iTunes 11.x and you’re confused by what you see, don’t panic.  The old features are still there; Apple just felt a need to jazz up the interface (Windows 8 envy?).

Here’s how to get that doc you’ve been tinkering with on your iPad into your iMac for some serious keyboarding.  But first, some orientation; copies of an iPad app file may be stored in up to three places:

  1. The iPad (note to Windows users; each app manages its own files)
  2. iTunes on your iMac (in an area that’s only visible when your iPad is mounted, creating the impression that this copy is on your iPad)
  3. A folder on your iMac (outside of iTunes)

When you upload (copy, sync, transfer) an app file, you’re making a copy of it in a new location (also, you might format it differently); this doesn’t affect the original file.

What we’re going to do is copy the file from the iPad to iTunes, and then from iTunes to the folder.


  • iOS 5.1.1
  • OSX 10.7.5
  • iTunes 11.0.1
  • App used in this example: Pages

What to do:

A.  Get ready.

  1. Plug your iPad’s sync cable into your iMac as usual.  Note that if your iMac is sleeping you need to wake it up first or you’ll get an error.
  2. In iTunes, find the iPad button on the right end of the menu bar.  Click the whole button, not the eject symbol on the button’s right end. 05 iPad button
  3. The tool bar changes to tools having to do with your mounted iPad.  In the center of the tool bar, click the Apps tab.10 apps menu

B.  Copy the file from iPad to iTunes.

  1. Scroll down the Apps page to the File Sharing section near the bottom.
  2. In the left pane, click the iPad app whose file you want to upload to your iMac.  The right pane lists the iPad files held in iTunes for the app you picked.
  3. If the file you want to upload is in this list, then you previously uploaded or downloaded it.  Decide whether the iTunes copy of your file is obsolete.  If yes, delete it.  If no, stop. 15 file sharing section
  4. To delete the file, click it to select it and push the Delete key on your keyboard.  iTunes will prompt “Are you sure you want to delete this file from your iPad?”  This prompt is misleading; you aren’t deleting it from your iPad, but from iTunes.  Confirm the delete.
  5. On your iPad, open PagesIf it shows a document for editing, touch the Documents button on the tool bar.  Pages displays thumbnails of all of its documents.16 iPad Pages docs
  6. Touch the Edit button on the tool bar.17 pages edit
  7. Select the document you want to upload to iTunes.
  8. Select the Share icon in the tool bar.18 Pages share
  9. Choose “Copy to iTunes.”18a Pages copy to iTunes
  10. Choose the format in which you want the uploaded copy, such as Word.  A progress bar appears and the file is copied to iTunes.  You’ll see it in the right pane of the File Sharing section of the iTunes window on your iMac.19 Pages copy format

C.  Copy the file from iTunes to the iMac folder.

  1. On your iMac, identify the file in the iTunes File Sharing list that you want to copy to a folder.
  2. Open Finder to the folder in which you want to place the file.  If the folder already has a file with the same name, decide whether it’s obsolete.  If yes, drag it to the recycle bin.  If no, rename it, move it or stop.
  3. Arrange your desktop so both the FInder and iTunes windows are visible.
  4. Click on the file in the iTunes window, and drag it into the desired folder in the Finder window.20 drag to Finder

D.  Close down.

  1. In the iTunes window, click the Done button on the top right corner of the tool bar to show you’re done with the Apps tab.  The main iPad tool bar appears.25 done with apps
  2. In the main iPad tool bar, click the Eject symbol on the right end of the iPad button — not the whole button.30 eject iPad
  3. Unplug your iPad’s sync cable.

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