What are your biggest barrier(s) to going iPad only or primary

I use my iPad about 70% of the time for work and basically all the time for just personal use. I work in the Provost office at our school, teach as an adjunct, and am a doctoral student (I’d classify all these as “work” for me). I’ve noticed a couple sticking points for me when it comes to the iPad:

  1. Searching documents - using the Files app or Google Drive app just does not cut it for me when I am having to search through many files for a project or task. In my day job for certain tasks and projects I am having to move files around, search for old files, and so forth. Using the iPad for this is very tedious and since everything is in the cloud I’m constantly having to wait on documents to download and trying to open in the right app. On the Mac I do this all through Alfred, everything is downloaded to my laptop, and I can do this very quickly.
  2. Working with multiple documents - this is related but often I will have to have multiple documents open and quickly going back and forth with them. For example, this past week I was working on a project that was in three different spreadsheets and two different Word docs. This is nearly impossible (besides opening and closing the documents) on the iPad. While there is multitasking there is not multitasking within the same app (i.e. I can have three different Excel documents open at once).
  3. Using Markdown to create slides - for teaching I’ve really enjoyed writing out my slides in Markdown and using the great Mac app, Deckset, to create slides. I realize I could create slides right in Keynote or PowerPoint but writing them out in Markdown and having slides automatically created that look great is a huge time save. If anyone knows of an app that works similar to Deckset I’d love to see it.

The first two are probably the biggest sticking points for me. If I’m working in a singular document or two different document types the iPad is great but when I begin having to go between many documents and looking for old ones this is where my hang up occurs.

What gives you pause for going iPad only or using your iPad as your primary device?

  1. Ergonomics. Same as going laptop only, the thought of the future physical effects of working hunched over an iPad all day scares me.

  2. Automation. The iPad has come a long way, but still doesn’t hold a candle to the Mac. For example, the ability of the Mac to have automation routines run in the background, or select options on the screen, isn’t there yet on the iPad.

  3. Multi-tasking and windowing. You touched upon this. I wrote a post on my blog a while back about the iPad being great when I know exactly what I want to do, but it isn’t great for reactive work. When things are coming fast and furious, the ability to jump nearly instantly between numerous windows is important. I have several automation routines set up in Shortcuts, but the iPad is still too slow in this regard.

That said, I enjoy using my iPad, and often use it for stretches of time as a nice change of pace. It will get there some day, especially when stronger peripheral/monitor support comes.


I agree although I’ve now created several workflows on my iPad that I use for work that are actually suited better for the iPad. I realize everyone is completely different in this but Shortcuts, for me, is something I understand and have implemented better than automation on the Mac.

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For me, almost anything work related is impossible on iPad.

I cannot use my Univeristy website because it does not work at all with Safari, and there is no app.

For my classes, I teach using Eclipse for Java, Photoshop, Illustrator and Audition. I teach Excel and need the functions that are not in the iPad version. I need Jetbeans software for my python and php classes, and I need Xampp for web development.

When writing, I need software for citation management that can automatically insert citations as I write.

For my leisure activities, there is no Logic Pro for music or Final Cut for video editing.

Finally, I need to be able to manage PDFs in Adobe Document Cloud and I need efficient file management, the Files app is nowhere near good enough.

iPad is only good in my life for reading, entertainment apps and taking notes. Otherwise, it just doesn’t have pro-level software that is powerful enough for my needs.


In addition to and support of the three from @Evan and the specific notes from @Rob_Polding , I would add

  1. Need to (Touch) Type Long Documents - The keypad on the iPad is untenable for sustained typing. Adding a keyboard that truly supports full-on touch typing over a long haul (e.g. a Kinesis) is akin to carrying around a second iPad just to type on the first iPad. This also does not address the need to have a document view window that provides sufficient area to see the text in the document clearly while physically supporting the view window so that it stays in firmly rooted in one place while you type text into it. It is an analog as to why Segovia did not jump around on stage while playing his guitar in the same way that Eddie Van Halen does.

  2. Need to Work in macOS-Only Apps - Certain apps that some folks must use do not translate well or will not ever be translated to a tablet framework.

Should my needs someday become only to read stuff (email, Web, news), manage Web-level transactions (shopping, finances), and make/draw brief notes, I can see going tablet-only (iPad-only).



I’m in the same multi-document holding pattern. I think once you can have multiple documents of the same type open I’ll be able to do a lot more. While I often have three (or more) open, even two would make it more feasible.

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My iPad-only problems mirror those already discussed.

  1. Automation: this is a problem, some of which can be handled with Shortcuts, some can be handled with my Mac Mini server which handles most of the back-end Hazel-based file manipulation rules. While when I work on my laptop, some of the Hazel stuff happens first on the laptop, the files are all being shifted around on the laptop within my ResilioSync folder, which syncs to the Mini server, which then finishes the processing and moves the files to the server store. As such, I could in theory just have the Mini handle all of the processing and dump the files into Resilio from the iPad.

  2. Which brings up the biggest issue, which is File Handling. The iPad just isn’t there yet. For instance, later today I will be going to a work-related website where I need to download a bunch of files for two different job projects, tag and sort those files into the proper folders for each job, and print at least some of them. Sure, I can get this all done on the iPad (and even though I don’t have an AirPrint enabled printer, because my Brother laser printer is that old but still works fine, prints duplex, and therefore doesn’t need replacing, I do have Printopia on the Mini so I can AirPrint double sided prints from the iPad), saving the files into Resilio (or anywhere else, for that matter) and then sorting and sub foldering is just too difficult on the iPad. Unfortunately, until iOS has something better than Files and way closer to Finder, the iPad just can’t cut it. Further, the need for third party tools to be providers for Files to work well with them is problematic. The ResilioSync folder on my Mac looks like any other Folder, and while there are “special features” like sharing links through Finder extensions, file manipulation itself works like any other folder in Finder. Not so under iOS.

  3. Multidocument support: Yes, this is also a problem. It works well enough for me when I am looking at two documents in different apps, like viewing a PDF in one and typing in Pages, for instance, but looking at two Pages documents simultaneously…nope.

It would be great to be able to use the form factor of the iPad, the Apple Pencil, handwriting, etc and leave the MBPro or MBAir at home, but it’s still not ready for prime time for me.

(Oh, and as an aside, while the Smart Keyboard Folio isn’t great keyboard, on the 12.9 it works well for me and I could make do if only the other stuff wasn’t so limiting.)

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On point 3
Deckset is great. I have started enjoying the process of writing and editing presentations after finding the task tedious using keynote or PowerPoint.
There is an iOS based app called Prezi which my local school uses (and loves) which claims to be usable on several platforms.
I searched on alternativesto and got this

Just a thought.
My workflow does not involve a need for iOS use of a deckset app, but if it did I would follow my school’s advice.
Brian reported back that Prezi does not meet his requirements. On inspection the iOS app is for those who already have an account. The use of markdown is key to my wirkflow too, so this app would not serve my usage either. Thanks Brian. Stephen

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I agree with @DrJJWMac and would add

  1. Impossible to use Windows (obviously) and the Windows versions of Office apps, particularly Outlook 2019 on Windows. The highest level of functioning of these apps only occurs on Windows. IOS Outlook is dumbed down and not compatible with what my clients use Outlook for. I use a Windows VM on my MacBook as much as I use macOS. If I were iPad-only, I’d still need a Windows machine. (More likely to go Windows-only with a Surface, than iPad only.)
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The nice thing is that since Deckset does use Markdown I can write it up on my iPad but can’t create the slides.

Yes, I use Prezi for other things but it really isn’t a replacement for Deckset.

In addition to the many things that are Mac apps only I’d add too small of a screen and can’t do software development.

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Apart from things already discussed here, the iPad won’t be able to replace a “regular” computer for me until it support virtualization so that I can run multiple VMs with multiple operating systems. (This requirement could be shifted to a server, but that’s kind of cheating for the scope of this discussion :slight_smile: )

Also, in general, if you can find an app that does just what you want then the iPad is often a brilliant computing device, but the moment you need to use more than one app to work with the same data it very quickly becomes a mire of weird and arcane “you can do that by tapping with two fingers and holding, creating a shortcut, and hoping that the developers of the respective apps support this feature that only works on second Sundays when there’s a full moon” kinds of things.

Selecting text is extraordinarily frustrating if you’re doing something like writing code.

And finally, as I ranted about in my post over in the Software section, there is no way to lock the screen for a time without putting the device to sleep.

I will note that Apple does seem to be working hard to address some of these issues. Also, all of that being said, I love my iPad Pro and it’s getting very close to being the sole computing device that I will take on trips.


Working on Excel spreadsheets is really my only remaining big gripe with iPad (in addition to the Files points many people have made). I could probably survive without trackpad support, but keyboard shortcuts just aren’t quite the same and Excel functionality, while improved from earlier versions, still not the same as desktop version. I hold out hope it will get there.


I have 30+ years of muscle memory invested in using a PC, and 12 years of that are on a Mac. I don’t see any reason to change.

On the other hand: Right now I’m doing my weekend-morning social media/RSS sweep on my iPad, as I do every weekend morning and for an hour or so in the evening on weekdays. I always do that on my iPad. Once recently I brought the MacBook Pro to the couch and that was fine … but I haven’t done it again. This social media/RSS sweep seems to be an iPad thing and I don’t know why.

  • No chance to edit charts in excel or power point.
  • No pivot tables
  • Lack of having two windows of the same software
  • No possible way to have all your documents downloaded automatically for offline use (even if online, it frustrating to wait that the files app downloads the document you want to use)
  • Could have an optional pointing device (mouse or trackpad)
  • shell scripting
  • neuroimaging software
  • underpowered processors for my needs
  • I want a mouse or trackpad. Poking at the screen, cursor positioning, and selecting text are huge pains in the butt.

I don’t think iOS will ever be my only, and there are too many advantages to macOS right now for me to seriously consider switching, or even using iOS as a primary device (unless it was temporary, and I was traveling).

I like a big screen.

I like my Trackpad with Force Touch.

I like multitasking with background processes.

I like my choice of keyboard… with function keys.

I am used to some apps I’ve used for years, along with their keyboard commands.

Many apps I use have no iOS equivalents.

I like to control my files in folders on local drives, and I like the control I have in terms of backups.

I enjoy being able to acquire apps from developers, including apps that Apple would not allow in the App Store because their powerful functionality crosses a line for apps it wants to make available in its walled garden.

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I think this might be better framed by task type. Professional reading, reviewing, marking up manuscripts (my own and others), etc. I can all do on the iPad easily. Initial data analysis (in R and MaxQDA among others) has to be done on the Mac, but all my analytic notes are going into Markdown (or R Markdown) so once the actual crunching is done, most of the synthesis and preliminary writeup can happen on iOS. Bibliographic management happens in BibDesk on the Mac, but gets synced to a Filemaker (and FM Go) database on iOS (and this could theoretically be replaced with Mendeley, ReadCube etc. but I am too heavily invested in automating BIbDesk to give it up).

File search and multiple windows are the main bottlenecks for me. But I really love annotating with the Pencil, especially Smart Annotation in Pages – which I use to set up annotations that I then process on the Mac.


I think for me its the form factor of the iPad that I enjoy so much. I don’t necessarily want it to replicate the Mac or a traditional computer but there are definitely several computing tasks that are fairly basic that would be nice to work well on the iPad such as having apps having multiple windows.

I just wrote something in another thread that fits perfectly in this thread: a lot of what I wrote mirrors what others have included here: access to multiple/bigger displays; better file management; better e-mail tools,

I really like using my Mac; always have. My 2015 MacBook Pro (15”) is the best machine I’ve ever owned. But for reasons I cannot explain, I’d really love to be able to work 100% from my iPad — without decreasing my productivity and without using underpowered tools. In fact, I don’t want it to replace my current tools, I want it to improve them in every way. I would like to have better tools, more efficient and productive work flows, better automation, and the like.

The iPad already has for some things—reading an annotating documents, which makes up a huge aspect of my daily work. It is the undisputed king of note taking. I have others, but those are big ones. Research is excellent on an iPad. File access is fine (but file management and batch processing is a sore point). A lot of database tools are excellent.

I like iPad multitasking but think there are some things that could make it at least as efficient as multitasking on a desktop-class computer. You don’t need to have arbitrary windowing to solve the problem of needing access to multiple tools and channels of information.

An iPad will never be a Cray supercomputer. But it should be able to enable a professional to do everything a professional can do on “any old computer.”

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