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Office for iPad's PDF export feature has a big problem. Here's how fix it with IFTTT

Alex Campbell | Aug. 7, 2014
Microsoft's Office for iPad update added PDF export to Word--barely. After 20-something minutes of infuriated tapping, I found the option hidden in a menu you'd never expect--and it didn't do nearly as much as I expected. Remember how you couldn't print with the initial release of the app? This release allows you to export PDFs only as email attachments. This isn't enough for iOS users be truly productive.

Microsoft's Office for iPad update added PDF export to Word — barely. After 20-something minutes of infuriated tapping, I found the option hidden in a menu you'd never expect — and it didn't do nearly as much as I expected. Remember how you couldn't print with the initial release of the app? This release allows you to export PDFs only as email attachments. This isn't enough for iOS users be truly productive.

You needn't be at the mercy of missing or half-baked features, though. Some of the gaps left in Word's functionality can be filled in with a little help from IFTTT.

Exporting the PDF

If you've used desktop publishing suites like Office 2013, Google Drive, or LibreOffice, you know the File menu is where exporting normally happens. Confusingly, Word for iPad doesn't do it this way.

Instead, Microsoft opted to place the command in the Share menu and gives you just one option: to email the PDF as an attachment.

To do this, open the Share menu by tapping the Share icon (it looks like a little human torso with a '+' sign next to it). From there, tap Email as Attachment > Send PDF.

An email form will appear with the PDF file attached. 

It's all pretty easy, but extremely limited. Microsoft didn't include the ability for you to export a PDF directly to your iPad's local storage, for instance. Unless you enjoy sending yourself emails, there are no elegant ways to get at that PDF.

That's why we're going to use the power of the cloud to give Word a little extra muscle.

Exporting the PDF to the cloud 

What if you want to share the document to the cloud without uploading the original Word document? Microsoft lets you save a document to OneDrive or SharePoint, of course, but some of us prefer other services.

IFTTT allows you to upload files to your cloud storage via email. If you aren't familiar with IFTTT, I'd recommend learning to use it to automate online tasks.

For our IFTTT recipe, you're going to need two channels: Email and a cloud storage service. In our example, we'll use Google Drive. It's just as easy to alter this recipe to work with the Box or Dropbox channels.

Activate channels

First, you need to activate the Email channel so IFTTT can tie emails from your email address to your account. Navigate to the email channel by clicking Channels and then clicking on the Email channel icon.

Enter your email address, and IFTTT will send a PIN to your email that you'll have to enter on the following page.

Next, you need to set up your cloud storage channel. For Google Drive, navigate to the Google Drive channel in the same way you did with the email channel.

 

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