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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Read any document or web article on your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Sometimes you need to carry certain files with you, but you don't want to lug around a large and heavy laptop. These files may be documents you have been working on that you need for reference, information you need to learn, fun stuff for entertainment, or to keep abreast of the latest news. They may be spreadsheets or desktop publishing newsletters, web pages containing articles and so on. What are the alternatives to a heavy laptop when you need to take files with you away from your computer desk? Of course, the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch spring to mind and there are some useful document viewers available. They aren't perfect though and there is an alternative way to transfer documents to these devices and view them. In fact, you can easily view any document or information from any application using iBooks, the free app from Apple. (This tip works on Windows as well as the Mac.)

iBooks is a great little app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch that enables you to read ebooks, which are basically books saved as computer files that can be read on computers and hand-held devices. It can do more than this though and it is also a PDF document viewer. Any application that can print can create a PDF file and this means that you can transfer any document to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and read it on the go - spreadsheets, DTP newsletters, reports, word processor documents, web pages and more.

On the Mac you can select File, Print or the printer icon in the application's toolbar and in the print dialog is a PDF button. Click it and select Save As PDF to create the file. (On Windows PCs you'll need a free PDF print utility to add this function.) Once you have your PDF file, start iTunes and if you have iBooks installed on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, you'll have a Books category in the Library on the left. Select it to view your books and drag the PDF file and drop it on iTunes with the other books. Sync your device and you'll find the PDF in iBooks on the device.

Here's an interesting way to create PDFs for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that you may not have thought of, use Safari's Reader view.

Visit a page on a website using latest version of Safari and quite often you will see a Reader icon at the right-hand side of the address box. Click it and the main content of the web page is displayed by bringing it to the front and the rest of the content, such as navigation buttons, adverts and other uninportant items are greyed out.

It's excellent, but the best part is that articles on websites that are split over multiple pages are combined into one, without all the surrounding junk. This article on PCI Express 3.0 is a typical example. See how Reader combines all the pages into one article? That's great.

Now move the mouse down near the bottom of the window and a grey toolbar is displayed. Click the plus (magnifying glass) icon to icrease the size of text if you are using an iPhone or iPod Touch with a small screen. When you have set the text to the right size, and it does need to be really big for the iPhone/iPod Touch, click the printer icon to print it. A standard Print dialog is displayed and you can select PDF, Save As PDF on the Mac (select the PDF printer on a Windows PC). Give the file a name and save it somewhere where you can find it later, like the desktop.

After creating the file, you can drag it to iTunes and drop it with the other books and PDFs. Then just sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. It's a great way to save and read multi-page web articles.

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