iPad vs iMac – Document translation Spanish to English

Which is best iPad vs iMac – iOS or macOS

I had a rather long document in Spanish I needed to translate into English. I decided I would start by doing this task on my iPad. The document was a PDF, so I needed to use something which would allow me to select text copied to the clipboard ready to be translated. My PDF app of choice is PDF Expert from Readdle. It’s an easy task to select the text and you get a pop-up menu which includes a button to copy whatever you have selected into the clipboard. You can also make a note, highlight, underline or even have the iPad read the text out to you. Once I had the text on the clipboard, my next destination is to go to a browser and use the Google translate page. The Google translator does a surprisingly good job of converting the Spanish into English. As soon as the text appears in the blue section with your translation you can hit the button to copy to the clipboard. All it is necessary to do then is to paste the text into the text editor of choice. I did this with the Drafts application to start with, but then I decided I would put it straight into Ulysses. I like the way that Ulysses works with the markdown syntax and how I can export out to PDF, plain text, HTML, or to a word document. There is also the option to export out to a publishing format on the Medium platform or to a WordPress blog. I didn’t need these extra option in this iPad vs iMac face off.

In order to make sure I could format the text in a similar way in a PDF document I decided it would be better to do a section from the Spanish PDF at a time. This allowed me to set headlines, bold text and lists and have it looking like the original – except in English.

Working on the iPad in split view

I’m really looking forward to the day when we have iOS 11 on the iPad Pro. The way the split screen setup works at the moment is annoying. Pulling the second app chooser out from the right side of the iPad screen gives us a list of all the applications you can do split screen with. I have a lot of applications which do this and so it takes forever to scroll through them to find the one I want to use. There’s not even a search area allowing me to find to one I want with a search. I spent so long looking for the app I wanted I started to get annoyed. The other little problem throwing a spanner in the works was the fact I wanted to use three applications to do this job. This meant I had to swap out the application on the left side of the split screen each time I went to get the next batch of text from the PDF to put into the translator. it started to get tedious rapidly. Initially not looking so good for the iPad in this iPad vs iMac test.

iPad vs iMac Split view

Getting the job done with automation

I kept thinking, there had to be a better way. So I decided to give it a go with the Workflow app. Workflow is the best automation application for iOS. It used to be third party application but was recently bought out by Apple. I started by creating a new workflow and added the action of Get Clipboard then I was delighted to find there is a Translate Text action available. I dropped that into the workflow followed by an action called Add to Ulysses sheet. I then had to find out how to get the Sheet Identifier from Ulysses. It turned out to be quite easy in Ulysses with a slide to the left of the document to reveal the more button. I tapped on the share icon and then the button for Copy Callback Identifier. I then went back to the Workflow application and pasted the identifier in the correct place in the action.

workflow automation

Making the automation work

With the PDF Expert application in the left side of the screen I could select the text I wanted to work with. In the right-hand side of the screen I had Workflow ready and waiting. Just needed to do a double tap on the icon for my workflow to set it in motion. It takes just a couple of seconds for the text to be sent off to Microsoft, of all places, for it to return translated to English. The left side of the screen changes from PDF Expert to Ulysses and I can see my text at the bottom of the document. It’s very handy that in the top left corner of the screen I have a small button allowing me to quickly get back to PDF Expert. This allows me to the PDF document to select the next portion of text to keep the process going.

iPad automation with workflow is marvellous

As yet I haven’t checked the quality of the translation from Microsoft compared to the translation from Google Translate. At first glance it seems to be just as good. The process I created on the iPad is fool proof and works a treat. Looking like I can see a winner in this test of iPad vs iMac.

Using the Mac to translate a PDF document – iPad vs iMac

iPad vs iMac to translate Spanish to English

The destination application was Ulysses as on the iPad. My starting point initially was with PDF Pen but it didn’t play very nicely with using a split screen on the Mac. So I changed to using the Apple Preview application and it worked much better. So I put Preview on the left-hand side and the Safari web browser on the right-hand side of my screen. It was then an easy job to select the text in the PDF document and put into the clipboard. I then switched to Safari and pasted the text into Google Translate. I then did a quick jump into the Ulysses application and got to the bottom of the document with a quick keyboard shortcut Command – Down Arrow to paste in the converted text. After that it was just a case of rinse and repeat.

So which was the best procedure? – Translation with iOS or with MacOS

Looking at iPad vs iMac. On my first run with the task I ended up doing most of it with my Mac. This was because it was easy using the keyboard shortcuts to get the text from the PDF and into Safari for the translation. Same with moving the translated text into its final destination, Ulysses. With my second attempt at the process on the iPad I found by using automation it worked so much better to use iOS to do this job. There is still the possibility I could see if I could involve automation, perhaps using Keyboard Maestro or Automator to shorten the process and make it just as good as using iOS. Get Keyboard Maestro here. For the moment I’ll say that converting Spanish text in a PDF document into English the best way to do it is on your iPad. Which method would you prefer with iPad vs iMac and getting a similar job done?

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