How to Read Excel Files on an iPad

by Ken Burnside

While the iPad isn't a great tool for doing data entry into a spreadsheet, iOS has the ability to natively display Excel (and other Office-formatted) files with its native file viewer. This will enable you to read (but not edit) Excel, Word and PowerPoint documents on your iPad, which may be all that you need if you're reviewing a presentation en route to a class or client meeting. However, getting the file to your iPad can be tricky, because iOS doesn't provide an accessible file manager.

Step 1

Email the file to yourself from your desktop PC, or load it into your cloud-based file sharing service of choice, such as Dropbox or iCloud.

Step 2

Download the email with the attachment, or go to your shared files area of either iCloud or Dropbox and find the file.

Double-tap the attached file, or double-tap the link to the file in your iCloud or Dropbox account. Your iPad will open the Excel file for you to read.


  • Editing your Excel file from your iPad (rather than simply reading it and reviewing the data) will require use of Microsoft's Office 365 Web-based service if you need full functionality. Alternatively, you could use other third-party applications, but these -- including Apple's spreadsheet Numbers -- lack some subset of Excel's features.

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