I Want My File System Back, Apple

You have a large (90MB) PDF on your Mac (OSX Yosemite) and your iPad (iOS 9.2) would be the perfect place to read it. How do you get this file from your desktop computer onto a *decent* reader on your tablet?


Things that don’t work:

Plug it into your computer via Thunderbolt/USB and copy it over. NO PEASANT! The iPad does NOT have a file system! Stop pretending it does! Do not look behind the curtain! This does work on my Kindle Fire, and takes about 8 seconds, of course. And then you discover that there isn’t a decent PDF reader… on the computer sold by the book company. Ugh.

Use iTunes to move it over. Nope. iTunes (v12.x) no longer manages “books”. There is no “Books” tab in iTunes anymore. Also, as a side note, iTunes as a user interface for playing music has gotten iteratively worse every single version since they bought (and killed) SoundJam to create it. The user interface organization is now *profoundly* bad. I am using WinAmp to play MP3s now. I kid you not.

Use iBooks to copy it over. Nope. iBooks (v1.2) no longer has a “Devices” list that allows you to simply drag things around.

Email it to yourself. Just, “No”. I said it’s 90M – SMTP will explode. Honestly, I seriously considered just upping my email size limits to 90M (over 100M after my mail client base64 encodes that) for a day to try this anyway, since I run my own mail server, hah. Emailing things to myself makes me sad though. It’s basically admitting defeat.

Download it through your iPad’s web browser. Nope. Then I have to READ it in the browser, and the browser is a shitty reader. This is a 700+ page PDF. There doesn’t seem to be any way to move the PDF to a decent reader. Maybe if I wrote a script that specifically set a “Content-disposition” header, mobile Safari would give me the option to download/save/open in iBooks? Don’t think I won’t code that for one PDF!

Use AirDrop. Nope, I can copy the file over via AirDrop, and I have the option to open it with iBooks or Kindle reader, but it never shows up in either. Also, as the iPad has no file system, and I downloaded it three times trying to make this happen, do I now have 270MB of mystery bloat that I can’t see or delete? I wonder, all tolled, how many completely unavailable copies of this 90MB file I now have on the iPad.

Send to Kindle on your desktop, and sync it on your iPad. Nope, Amazon has a 50MB limit. Books copied to your Kindles via the file system aren’t part of Amazon’s “system” and don’t get synced to other devices.

Import the book into Calibre and use it’s “Send to device” function. Nope. Calibre used iTunes to send books to iPads, and iTunes has removed it’s book support so that doesn’t work anymore.



Upload the file to ownCloud/Dropbox/Box and then sync on your iPad. DING! DING! Copy the PDF to your ownCloud (etc…) folder, upload the #@$$# thing to your server in a colo in another state, then on your iPad, re-download the file back to your LAN via the ownCloud app. ownCloud is great, but it’s a poor book reading app of course. Next click the unlabeled and inscrutable [^] “Share” button and find the “Open in…” option, and choose iBooks. Jesus-fuck!

Apple and many others have seized on this idea that the file system is the most difficult thing in computing for new/casual users to understand, and the only way to save those users from the pitfalls of a real file system is to abstract it away and hide it. Fuck you! I won’t deny that dealing with a file system *is* a problem, but sweeping it under the rug is an insane solution. It’s like saying that the hardest part of marriage is communication, so married couples should ONLY communicate through approved Halmark brand greeting card quotations or Top 40 song lyrics. Fucking no! The solution is to learn to communicate! Computers save stuff in files, and they organize those files in a folder tree. Learn that, gawd damnit!

I feel like I am constantly beating my head against Apple’s insistance that the filesystem must be hidden from the user.