iPad Annoyance: File Uploads in Safari

A few weeks ago I got a new iPad and have generally been quite happy with it. When paired with a wireless keyboard, I can even do some basic (lightweight) “work” on it as a remote terminal. But there’s a rather surprising issue that both Kathleen and I have encountered: file uploads from the browser (Safari) are simply not supported.

So if you shoot a picture with the camera, you can’t hop on to your WordPress dashboard, upload the image, and blog about it. At first I thought it was just me (or us) but a bit of searching reveals that this is, in fact, a “feature” of sorts.

One suggestion I’ve seen is to use a third-party browser, such as iCab. While I’m not opposed to paying a few bucks for something that actually works, the comments on that app make me think it’s not quite the solution either.

I guess you could argue that I “just” need an app that uploads to whatever site it is that I’m using at the time, but that’s pretty unrealistic. I’m a bit puzzled why Apple doesn’t let you browse your media libraries (photos and video, at least) to upload to web sites from mobile Safari. It stikes me as a very, very common need.

No every web site is “big” enough to be able to afford developing their own app for the iPhone and iPad.

So this makes me wonder if I’m just missing something. Is there a reasonably well known workflow that accomplishes what I want? If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, how do you handle this?

About Jeremy Zawodny

I'm a software engineer and pilot. I work at craigslist by day, hacking on various bits of back-end software and data systems. As a pilot, I fly Glastar N97BM, Just AirCraft SuperSTOL N119AM, Bonanza N200TE, and high performance gliders in the northern California and Nevada area. I'm also the original author of "High Performance MySQL" published by O'Reilly Media. I still speak at conferences and user groups on occasion.
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28 Responses to iPad Annoyance: File Uploads in Safari

  1. Roger says:

    Dropbox works for getting your photos/videos out of the device. If WordPress et al can import from Dropbox then you are good. You can get if-this-then-that to automatically create a new WordPress post on seeing the photo appearing in Dropbox. This isn’t elegant but it should work reliably.

    (Insert standard rant about walled gardens.)

    • Yeah, as a long-time Dropbox user that’s not a *bad* option. It’s clearly not as good as “Apple made the damned thing Just Work like you’d expect” but workable at least for a geek like me.

  2. raybaxter says:

    I haven’t used it from the iPad, but from my iPhone, the WordPress app uploads photos without any problem.

  3. Dan Isaacs says:

    Ugh, try and email two images on the same email. Or add an attachment from within the mail app. Frustrating. Of course, it’s pretty fucking awesome that I can be upset about it.

  4. bcs says:

    This kind of thing is why I will likely never own a Mac product nor get a jailed mobile device. It’s my computer and I’m not going to let someone else dictate how/what it will run.

    • Divya Mahajan says:

      Unless you write your own OS, you’ve already signed up for someone else dictating how to use the device.
      1. Von Neumann architecture – this is built into hardware – so you can’t change it.
      2. Filesystem structure and file naming conventions.
      3. ….

      • Name (required) it says says:

        Well, at a basic level you’re right, of course. However, you do operating systems a dis-service (or misunderstand what they are). Yes, you are always constrained by what an OS does. But the function of an OS, in almost all cases, is it facilitate effective interaction between most applications programs (‘apps’ in recent, marketing-speak parlance) and the hardware.
        The interesting, relevant aspect in this context is that Apple have deliberately and extremely subverted that fundamental characteristic of an OS to its own ends. Its ends – and be not fooled, gentle reader – are to maximise Apple’s profits at all costs. The funder of most of those costs is Apple users. I’ll say that again: Apple is what it is (currently, profitable) *because of the way it plays its fans, as a fisherman plays a fish on a line*.

        Specifically, Apple has been more than happy to encourage fans to believe that Apple is a great inventor of new ways of computing, for to do so serves its purposes; and, historically, its users have been, mostly, at the naive end of computer users so haven’t, mostly, been well equipped to see through the marketing haze. However even the late (‘great’? Unpleasant? Bullying? Didn’t-hesitate-for-a-moment-to-rip-off-Apple’s-co-founder?) Mr. Jobs admitted, publicly, that Apple copies others. He thought that was the smart thing to do, for financial gain. So, specifically… Apple has copied ‘its’ OSes from free, more capable OSes (BSD, Mach kernel – ‘flavours’ of Unix) and then *removed* standard OS facilities, such as access to a file system, specifically to route its uses through Apple-money-making schemes. (iTunes, iCloud, etc.)

        That is not the approach envisaged by OS creators, who, in most cases, strive to enable users’ use of the underlying computing facilities.

  5. Pingback: iPad and Uploading Photos – Not happening « Photographess

  6. Rick F says:

    I occasionally update a blog on our ipad2 and use Blogsy which seems to be one of the better blogging apps — you can take photos/videos from your ipad and upload them or (IIRC) take photos directly from the app.. It’s been a few months since I’ve used it but it’s been getting regular updates to increase features,etc.. You might want to check it out — sure it’s not the best thing in the world since Apple left off that one feature but this app helps out if you’re doing blog posting — IMHO.

  7. fmalina says:

    This issue is quite ridiculous. I think Apple like the idea of forcing developers to make apps tied to their devices. We let them take flash, they will come for the web. I ended up writing a simple IMAP server with python imaplib2 exploiting the native email photo functionality of the iOS photo app so that people can easily upload photos on my site by sending an email setup to upload to FlatmateRooms.co.uk with a big fat warning about what is going on. I though I’ll name the upload email evil.apple[at]flatmaterooms.co.uk, but I just stuck with upload@…

  8. Hari says:

    This is one good reason why you should jailbreak. I was able to use something called “safari upload enabler” and it worked very well on Craigslist and a couple if other sites. The tweak costs couple of bucks or so. Jailbreaking does add a limitation on how soon you can upgrade the OS, do it is a trade off.

  9. Mike says:

    It’s never occurred to me to even try to do something like this. In my opinion, Apple’s iDevices are consumption-only. They’re not for any content creation more elaborate than a quick e-mail. And I’m certainly no Apple-hater: I own an iPhone, a new iPad (iPad 3), a first-gen iPad, a Mac Mini (on which I’m typing this), Apple TV, and a MacBook Pro I use for work. There’s a lot to like about the Apple ecosystem, but yeah, I have a few major complaints when it comes to the draconian way in which they impose their will upon their users. I can’t see any reason at all for the omission of such functionality except to pressure web sites to develop custom apps. It sucks.

    FWIW, I’m thankful that they decided to reject Flash. Flash is used primarily for video playback, annoying ads, or time-wasting games. HTML 5 does an excellent job of handling video, the web is better off without Flash ads, and native apps are a better option for games. Apple’s refusal to allow Flash on iOS has been the single biggest factor in pushing standards-based HTML 5 over proprietary, buggy-plugin-based Flash. I felt this way even before Adobe announced that there’d be no further Flash Player updates for Linux outside of Chrome, but that decision made me feel even better that Flash is a legacy technology on its last legs.

    • Brett says:

      I agree with pretty much everything you said other than your assessment of their capability for creating content. I’m a professional artist and photographer, and while they certainly have limitations and thus far could never replace a computer or traditional mediums, they are much more capable of handling creativity of all types than people give them credit for. Infact I’ve reached a point where about 70% of my work is done on an iPad.
      Granted, that doesn’t excuse their limited functionality when it comes to the way apple has severly restricted their devices ability to effectively handle web content. And even I’ll admit that it’s an issue that at times turns me off to the idea of using it for my work, but aside from those issues, they’re still very capable devices. We just gotta hope apple makes them more accessible as time goes on. The best way to see those changes would be for everyone who has these issues to contact apple directly and demand change. If enough people do so, they’d be forced to listen or risk losing business.

  10. I believe safari in iOS 6 will support this behaviour.

  11. Phil says:

    You can jailbreak and add Safari upload support, or as Barnaby mentioned, install iOS 6.

    Regarding iDevices being allegedly “consumption-only,” apparently some people are missing everything from Adobe’s (surprisingly) wonderful version of Photoshop to Avid Studio, Animoog, etc. Check here for more: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/03/hype-v-reality-the-best-ios-tools-for-pro-content-creation/

  12. Pingback: Hidden Gem of iOS6: File Uploads in Mobile Safari | The Agile League

  13. Pingback: Hidden Gem of iOS6: File Uploads in Mobile Safari | The Agile League | Itsaat

  14. Pingback: Choosing Apple or Android tablets

  15. iOS now supports uploading from your photo/video media library using the standard upload button on most sites. Pretty nice!

  16. houssem says:

    What about uploading a pdf or a .docx file ? some one have the solution ?
    if i want to upload my CV to a job website, how to do ?

  17. nicola says:

    iUploader (free) works in many cases. Its limit is that it doesn’t update the page or go to the next page for confirmation or for making new steps if required by the website. Another bugging aspect is that you have to move files into the app in order to upload them with its browser. I din’t find anything better though, so far.

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  19. mhhamad says:

    Well it is 2014 now and still no built in solution! for the other troubled souls with no luck finding a solution for this simple task, I have two words for you

    Free Puffin

    I was successfull uploading a pdf to a moodle website, Puffin browser allows to connect to Dropbox and upload the file to the targeted website, THE FILE , not just a link

    Thanks to that, I can now go back to my life and rest in peace, knowing that my 700$ tablet finally can do the most basic task on the internet, UPLOADING !

    And Oh, iUploader neither worked for me nor it even allowed me to continue trying , saying my trail has expired , so it is not free and not working

    • Emanuel Amorer says:

      Any hopeful news for non-US users? Free Puffin is geo-locked for US servers. Any foreigner is still doomed to have a 700$ tablet that pretty much works as a big iphone…..

      • mhhamad says:

        I am a non-US user and I use free puffin to upload files regularly, I don’t know why you found this feature locked because I didn’t,

        P.S. I do use US store as my default store on my apple account


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