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How to read music on your iPad

How do you get your chord diagrams, chord charts, tab or other music into an iPad so you can read your music anywhere?

I recently was working with printouts of several ukulele songs I was trying to learn. Some of the pages were from PDFs, some were from Tablature Software and some were just chord diagrams I had put into a document. The problem I encountered was that these music pages were being blown off the table by a ceiling fan. This made it difficult to read the music. I pulled out my mobile phone to use as a paper weight  to hold down one corner and then grabbed my iPad to hold down another corner. Then it hit me:

[jbox]I wouldn’t have paper blowing off the table if the music were on my iPad.[/jbox]

Now my problem was how to get the music from my computer to my iPad.


The first part of the solution is DropBox. DropBox turns out to be an essential music app for the iPad. DropBox will open PDFs, RTF and Word DOC formatted documents.

dropbox file list

If your music is in another software program such TuxGuitar, export the score to a PDF, put the file in DropBox and then open the music on your iPad.

If you only need the chord names for a tune, or chords and lyrics, you can use text, RTF or DOC and DOCX formatted documents. All these can be read from DropBox. PDF and DOCX files can include embedded images for chord diagrams. RTF and DOC embedded images did not come over when they were PNG but might for other image types.

There are also apps for reading and writing text files on the iPad such as iaWriter or Plain Text. These can be used for pure “ASCII” tab or for simple chord names and lyrics.

I have reviewed Tablature Software in the past and the iPad has a number of TAB apps. Two are worth mentioning because they are the iPad versions of software I have reviewed for Windows.

TEFview is a free iPad app that reads TablEdit files you’ve created on your desktop computer. There is also a paid version named TEFpad that allows you to edit TAB on your iPad (I haven’t tried the paid version yet).

Another popular Windows Tablature program is Guitar Pro. There is only a paid version of Guitar Pro for iPad. I haven’t tried it yet. At the moment I’m not interested in creating or editing TAB on the iPad. Reading it is sufficient for my current needs.

2 thoughts on “How to read music on your iPad”

  1. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your review but please note that the app is named TEFview.

    It opens also ASCII tabs, MIDI, ABC, MusicXML files… The next update will handle PowerTab files.

    TEFpad is the lite TablEdit version with basic editing features.

    Anyway TablEdit Lite doesn’t exist ;-)



    1. Hi Matthieu,

      Thanks for your correction. I will correct the original blog post to reflect this. Anyone reading this after I’ve made this correction, I did not use the correct names for the iPad apps in my original post. Shame on me. How will you find the apps if the name you’re looking for doesn’t exist.

      Anyone wanting to use TablEdit on iPad, let me re-iterate that the correct name for the tab viewer is TEFview while the full iPad tab editor is TEFpad.

      Thanks again

      – Dan

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