How to Work with Microsoft Office on an iPad with iOS 11

Lance Whitney

The latest version of Apple’s mobile OS offers some benefits for Office users who own an iPad.

Apple’s iOS 11 brings several enhancements to the iPad. And those of you who use Microsoft Office on certain model iPads can take advantage of them.

iOS 9 introduced a couple of features that can display two apps on the screen at the same time. So for example, you can see both Word and Excel together side by side. Now, with iOS 11, you can drag and drop text, hyperlinks, and images from one app to another.

Further, Office users who use OneDrive for backing up and syncing their documents can rev up Apple’s new Files app. The Files app helps you connect to and access files stored on OneDrive as well as other online storage sites. Let’s check it all out.

For this article, I’ll assume you run Microsoft Office on your iPad. In my article on How to Choose and Use the Mobile Version of Microsoft Office, I explain how Office Mobile operates on a phone or tablet, and under what conditions you can use the suite for free.

Update to iOS 11

First, make sure you’ve updated your iPad to iOS 11 if you haven’t already done so.

Check your version of iOS as follows: Open Settings, then General, then About. Scroll down the About screen to the entry for Version.

If you see 11 or higher listed, you’re all set. If not, tap on the Back arrow to return to the General screen and tap on the entry for Software Update to download and install the latest version of iOS.

View Two Apps on the Screen with Slide Over

Here’s a trick that’s been around since iOS 9. On any model iPad, you can jump into Slide Over view to look at two apps on the screen at the same time.

To accomplish this feat, make sure you’re at a Home screen where you can see the icons for the two apps you want to open. Drag one app, for example, Microsoft Excel, to an empty area of the screen. At the same time, tap on the other app, such as Microsoft Word. Word opens full screen, while Excel resides in a floating window.

Slide Over view supports any iPad with iOS 9 or higher. But you can’t easily bounce back and forth between the two apps. When you tap on the window for the full-screen app, the floating window with the other app disappears.

View Two Apps on the Screen with Split View

A more effective way to view two apps at the same time is through Split View. But Split View works only with the iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, and iPad mini 4 or later models. If you own an older iPad, this trick won’t work for you.

Assuming you own a supported iPad, use the same maneuver to open Word and Excel side-by-side. Then press the top banner of the Excel window and drag it down. The Excel window should then shrink in size, allowing it to slide into place so both apps share the screen in a split view. You can change the width of the two windows.

Hold down the small vertical gray bar in the center of the border between the two windows. Move the border to the left, and the screen for Excel gets wider. Release your hold when the two windows are the same size.

Use Drag and Drop

With two apps in Split View, you can drag and drop text, images, and other content from one app to another. To try this, select the text you want copy. Hold down the selection and then drag it to the area in the other window where you want it to appear. You should see an icon representing the selected text. Release your finger, and the text is pasted.

You can drag and drop hyperlinks as well. Select a link in one window, hold it down, and then drag it to the other window. The link retains its connection, so you can click on it to open the associated webpage.

Try the same trick with an image. Open an Excel spreadsheet with a chart or other image. Hold down that image and drag it to a free area in your Word document. Release your finger when the image is in place.

Next, the Files app works on any model iPad with iOS 11 or higher. With this app, you can directly access your OneDrive storage space, as well as your space on iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox.

I’ll use OneDrive as the example here. To start, make sure you’ve already downloaded and have signed into the OneDrive app. Open the Files app. At the left pane, tap on the Edit link and turn on the switch for OneDrive. Then tap Done.

At the right pane, tap on a specific folder in OneDrive until you find the file or files you want to access. You can sort your files by name, date, size, or specific tags.

Press down on one of the thumbnails for a specific file. From the popup toolbar, you can copy, move, rename, delete, or share the file. Tap on a file you want to view.

From here, you can tap on the Share icon to share the file by email or messaging. You can send it directly to its source program, such as Microsoft Word, for editing. You can also copy it or print it. Tap Done to close the file.

Finally, you can use the Files app to share a single file or multiple files using drag and drop. Let’s say you want to attach several documents to an email message. Open the iOS email app side-by-side with the Files app.

In the Files app, tap on the Select link and then select the documents you want to attach. Drag them to your email message and then release your finger when you see the image representing the documents.

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