Macworld — If you frequently use Excel to create and edit spreadsheets on your Mac, you may want to access the same files while youre on the go with just your iPad. Although Microsoft hasnt released an iOS version of Excel, you can still work with Excel files on your iPad if youre willing to accept a few compromises.
View Excel files on your iPad
If you only need to view Microsoft Excel documents, youre in luck; Apples iOS can display them natively. All you need to do is get the spreadsheets onto your iPadfor example, email them to yourself as attachments, or use an app designed for transferring and viewing documents, such as Avatron Softwares $10 Air Sharing, Good.iWares $5 GoodReader for iPad ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ), or Readdles $5 ReaddleDocs for iPad ( Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice ).
Editing your spreadsheets is not quite as simple. Although several apps and methods exist, none of them has all of Excels features. As a result, youll face one or more limitationsfor example, loss of formatting or a poor touch-screen interface.
Edit Excel spreadsheets with Apples Numbers
One natural option for editing Excel spreadsheets is Apples Numbers ($10, Macworld rated 3.5 out of 5 mice ). It can import and export documents in Microsoft Excel format, and offers a powerful and easy-to-use environment for creating and editing files.
As long as youre running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, using the latest version of Numbers for Mac and iOS, and have an Apple iCloud account, transferring documents between a given app on your Mac(s) and iOS device(s) is simple thanks to iClouds Documents in the Cloud feature.
Unfortunately, when you import a file in Microsoft Excel format (.xls or .xlsx) or export a Numbers file in an Excel format, you permanently lose essential formatting, tracked changes, comments, and other file attributes. So, if youre content to keep your Excel spreadsheets in Numbers format once theyre importedor give up any unsupported formattingNumbers is arguably your best choice. But if maintaining fidelity with original formatting is your top priority when working with Excel documents on an iPad, youll want to look for another solution.
Edit Excel spreadsheets with Google Docs
Another approach is to rely on Google Docs, Googles free Web-based office suite. Many businesses have standardized on Google Docs because its a convenient platform that requires no software beyond a Web browser, provides automatic backups and versioning, and makes sharing files with co-workers easy. All of this would seem to be a natural fit for the iPad, too.