Extra Storage for your iPad

When Apple's first iPad went on sale people rushed out to buy one. When the iPad 2 came out even more people bought one. Then came the iPad 3, or as Apple calls it, the "New iPad." This new iPad is faster and has a better screen but throughout all these upgrades the storage sizes remained the same: 16GB, 32GB & 64GB. 

The best new feature on the new iPad is the retina screen. It's amazing! But one of the things people don't think about is the impact that georgous retina display has on storage space. To take advantage of the hi-res display application developers have added new retina display compatible graphics in their Apps. The result is an increase in App size. 

Since all versions of the iPad, both old and new, use the same application everyone who owns an iPad, regardless of model, is impacted. When you start to add up all the extra storage space those apps are adding the increase is alarming. After a while that midrange 32GB iPad is looking a bit cramped and the 16GB model is getting downright tiny. You may be able to host your music in iCloud but hosting video files is a bit trickier. And sometimes you don't have WiFi or cell connection. 

If you like movies & TV shows, have a lot of old USB drives or SD cards laying around and want to save some space on your iPad, here's how you can use external storage to store your video files. 

First some caveats:
  • Your videos must be H.264-compliant
  • You need to own one of Apple's camera connection kit adaptors
  • You need to rename your video files to mimic the filenames from a camera SD card
  • You must have enough free space you your iPad to copy the file
  • You won't use the "Videos" app on the iPad to watch your files you will use "Photos"

Getting your video ready

I did a write up about using Handbrake to get your videos off of DVD and into the proper format here & here.  Just make sure it's H.264-compliant. Once you have your video file you now need to get it on the iPad. Go do a search around your house and in your desk. If you're like me you will find a ton of old 1GB, 2Gb or even 4GB USB drives and SD cards. Grab one and set it up.

Setting up the SD Card or USB drive

The name of the SD/USB device can be anything you want but the folder structure must match the structure found on camera SD cards. On the device create a folder called "DCIM" and a subfolder called "100DICAM" or , if you are a Nikon fan, "100NCD90"  

Add the Video Files

Copy the video file you want into the DCIM subfolder you just created and rename the file. You MUST use eight characters with sequential numbers exactly the same way your camera does it. Use something like DSC_1000, DSC_1001, and so forth. If you do load up several different movies just make sure to keep track of your video names and what you called them. A 32GB flash drive holds a lot of old Animaniacs episodes and heaven forbid if you should pick the wrong one to watch on a long plane flight. 

Now make sure you have enough free space on your iPad to store the file then plug in the camera connection kit adaptor with your SD card or USB drive plugged in. 

Importing your Videos to the iPad

After you plug in the connector you will be prompted to import you file(s). 

Once the import is done you can unplug your connector. Now just tap the video and start watching. Remember that your videos are only accessible in the "Photos" app not the normal "Videos" App.

Deleting iPad video files

After doing this walk through several times one thing that isn't intuitively obvious is how to delete these video files you added so I figure I'd review it for you. 

Open up Photos and select "Albums" or "Events"

Select the video you loaded and on the next screen tap the button in the upper right corner.

Select your video 

And delete it

On a long trip you can now take along videos for everyone without worrying about who get's to choose what goes on the iPad. You also free up space for Apps music and other photos. 



  1. Very helpful! Thanks for your clear directions and pictures.

  2. Thank you, you saved my cartrip to holiday of 13h