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Michigan State University

Virtual Note Taking: Getting Started

Information about virtual note taking and annotation. Students with electronic course packs will find this information particularly useful. Last updated: 3/1/18.

Transferring Documents to Mobile Devices

Files on a laptop or desktop can be easily transferred to mobile devices.

For iPads and iPhones:

  1. Connect the device to a computer using the USB supplied cable and open iTunes.
  2. Select the device and click the Apps button.  
  3. Under 'File Sharing', select the app to transfer a file to from the list on the left.  
  4. Choose 'Add...' and a file browser window will appear.  
  5. Search for the document on the computer to transfer, select it, and click 'Open'. The file is now on the device and can be opened in the app.

For Android devices with a Windows computer:

  1. Connect the device with the supplied USB cable.
  2. The device is mounted as an external drive and files can be transferred back and forth just as with any other external device.

For Android devices with Mac OS:

  1. Install Android File Transfer (free download).
  2. Connect the device with the supplied USB cable and open Android File Transfer.
  3. A window will open with the contents of the device. Within this window files can be transferred in the same manner as using the Finder window.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is another option for accessing documents on mobile devices. The most common providers are Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. All three offer online storage that syncs across devices, allow for easy collaboration with others, and integrate with most note taking apps or programs. The main differences are storage space and price of premium accounts.

Tip: Most of the cloud storage services provide 2-step verification. Typically, a code is sent via text message when setting up an account or accessing for the first time from a new device. It is highly recommended that this verification is enabled, as it gives an extra layer of security when using these services.



  • Free accounts offer 10 GB of storage space
  • Premium accounts start at $10/month for 100 GB


  • Free accounts start at 2 GB of storage space
  • Earn up to 16 GB free with referrals (500 MB/ referral)
  • Premium accounts start at $9.99/month for 1 TB of storage
  • Old or deleted files can be recovered up to 30 days after changes are made

Google Drive

  • Free accounts offer 15 GB of storage
  • Premium accounts start at $1.99/month for 100 GB
  • Storage space is shared across Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos
  • Unlimited storage available through MSU Google for Education (login with MSU Net ID)


The article OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box: Which cloud storage service is right for you? provides a very detailed comparison of cloud storage options and may be helpful in deciding which cloud storage product(s) to use.

Health Sciences Educational Technology Librarian

Andrea Kepsel's picture
Andrea Kepsel
MSU Libraries
366 W Circle Drive
Room WG-1i
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 884-0898
Michigan State University