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How to use the Files app on iPhone or iPad like a pro

How to use the Files app on iPhone or iPad like a pro

The Files app is the native file manager on iPhone and iPad. But since it’s Apple, they’ve made sure this app stands out from the crowd by providing support for third-party cloud storage apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. So, other than that, what can you do with the Files app? Well, the answer to that question is in this guide. So, fire up the Files app on your iPhone or iPad and join us as we explore all of the app’s features and how to use them.

You can access the following files from the Files app

Here are the files you will be able to access from the Files app:

  • Files on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
  • Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents on iCloud Drive.
  • Files from other cloud services and apps such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Adobe Creative Cloud, Google Drive, and more.

It may come as a surprise to you, but the Files app does not support the iPhone Photo Library. We have mentioned the steps for this in one of the following sections.

Enable access to third-party apps in Files

By default, the Files app does not have access to certain file formats on your iPhone. I think Apple has taken protecting user privacy too seriously. So, in order to access the files of these applications, you need to:

  1. Open the Files app on your iPhone.
  2. Click Browse.
    To make sure you are on Main page from Browseclick “Browse” again.
  3. Select the three dots icon in the top right corner.
  4. Now click “Edit”.
  5. Turn on the apps you want to give access to and click Done.

Check files stored locally on iPhone or iPad

Since the main purpose of the Files app is to view documents on your iPhone or iPad, here’s how you can view files on your iPhone:

  1. Open Files and click Browse.
  2. Then click on “On my phone”.

If you don’t see the On My iPhone option, follow these steps: aforementioned and turn on On This iPhone.

Save items in the Files app

You can also use the Files app to save files to your iPhone and then access them. Here is how you can do it.

Save files to iPhone or iPad

Let’s say you see an interesting image in Safari, or you want to save a document to your iPhone. How can you save it to Files? It’s pretty easy if you follow these steps:

  1. Click the Share button.
  2. Select Save to Files.
  3. Select a location and click Save.

Saving images from the Photos app to Files

  1. Open the image you want to share.
  2. Click the Share button.
  3. Scroll down and click Save to Files.
  4. Select a location and click Save.

Connect external devices to the Files app

In addition to accessing files from iPhone and cloud storage, the Files app can also read external devices. All you have to do is connect your external devices to your iPhone or iPad and then you will see them in the Locations section of the Files app.

Create new folders

You can also create folders within the app and then move them around. For those wondering how to create folders on iPhone, here’s how to do it.

  1. Launch the Files app and click Browse.
    Make sure you are on the main browsing page by clicking again.
  2. Then open iCloud Drive or On My iPhone.
  3. Now touch and hold on an empty area. A context menu will appear.
  4. Click New Folder.
  5. Name the folder and click Finish.
Steps to Create a New Folder in the Files App on iPhone

You can also click on the three dots at the top and select “New Folder” to create one.

Move Documents

  1. Open the folder you want to move from.
  2. Tap and hold on the file you want to move.
  3. Select Move.
  4. Select a location and click Move.
    If you move a file from iCloud to “On My iPhone”, it will “Copy”.

How to use drag and drop to move files

Another great feature of the Files app is the drag-and-drop capability. All you need to do is press and hold the file until it rises. After that, press and hold again, then drag to where you want to save the file.

Move multiple documents at once to the Files app manually

  1. Open the Files app → Browse.
  2. Navigate to the location where you want to move the files from.
  3. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner and click “Select”.
  4. Now select the files to move.
  5. Tap and hold on any file and select Move (x) items.
  6. Navigate to a location and click “Move”.
    If you are moving from iCloud to On My iPhone, it will be Copy..
Move multiple files in the Files app on iPhone

Create a duplicate

  1. Open the Files app.
  2. Click Browse.
  3. Navigate to the location where the desired file is located.
  4. Tap and hold on the file you want to copy.
  5. Select Duplicate.
Steps to Duplicate File on iPhone

Another file will be created with the same name, except that it will have a number next to it to indicate that it is a copy of the original file.

Duplicate multiple documents at the same time

  1. Open Files → Browse → the location where the files you want to duplicate are located.
  2. Tap the three dots in the top right corner and choose Select.
  3. Next, select all the files you want to duplicate.
  4. Tap the icon with four squares with a plus at the bottom.

Duplicate files will be created for the selected files. These files will have the word “2” at the end of the filename. (The filename will depend on how many times you have duplicated.)

Find files or folders in the Files app

It will not be easy to find the right file if there are a lot of them. So, here’s how you can search in the Files app:

  1. Open the Files app.
  2. Tap the search bar at the top.
  3. Now enter your search term and click “Search”.

Create Favorites Folder

If you have a lot of files on your iPhone, it’s best to mark the important ones as favorites so you don’t have to look around or even look for them the next time you need them. Here’s how you can mark files as favorites in the Files app:

  1. Open the Files app → Browse.
  2. Select the location where the folder is located.
  3. Press and hold the folder you want to mark as Favorite.
  4. Select Favorites.
Steps to Add a Folder to Favorites in the Files App on iPhone

That’s all! You will now see the selected folder under Favorites in the Browse panel. page.

Remove folders from Favorites

No one can be someone’s favorite every day. The same applies to those folders that you have marked as favorites. It’s time to remove them from your favorites list. Here’s how:

  1. Open files.
  2. Click Browser.
  3. In the Favorites section, swipe on the folder you want to delete. Then click Remove.
    You can swipe left from one end to the other to remove it directly.
Steps to Remove Folders from Favorites in the Files App on iPhone

You can also press and hold a folder. Select Remove to remove them from Favorites.

View recently used files

  1. Open the Files app.
  2. Click Recent.

From here, you can see the latest files you’ve accessed through the Files app. You can arrange the view by clicking on the four squares at the top and selecting the option of your choice.

Share documents or folders from the Files app

  1. Open Files → Browse → the location where the file is shared.
  2. Touch and hold a document.
  3. Tap Share.
  4. Select an option on the general sheet.
Share documents from iPhone using the Files app

To share multiple documents and folders in the Files app, tap the three dots and choose Select. Then select all files, click the share button and choose how you want to share the file.

  1. Open Files → Browse → the location of the file you want to add a tag to.
  2. Tap and hold on a file and select Tags.
  3. Select a color label or click Add New Label.
  4. Click Done.
How to use ad tags in the Files app on iPhone

Add tags for multiple files

  1. Open the location where the files are located.
  2. Tap on the three dots in the top right corner.
  3. Now select “Select” and select the files you want to add tags to.
  4. Now click on the three dots in the bottom right corner and select “Tag”.
    You can also press and hold on one of the files and select Tag.

To find tagged files, go to Browse and tap the tag you added to the file and you will see it there.

Set up tags in the Files app

In addition to adding tags, you can also customize the tags of these applications. Because this requires quite a bit of explanation, we’ve put together a detailed guide on how to set up tags in the Files app. Here we have mentioned how you can add, remove or even change tags in the Files app.

Delete document

  1. Open Files → Browse → File Location
  2. Tap and hold on a file → select Delete.

To permanently delete files:

  1. Go to Overview → Recently Deleted.
  2. Tap and hold on a file and select Delete Now.
  3. Confirm by selecting Delete.

Delete multiple documents

  1. Open Files → Browse tab → a location where you have multiple files to delete.
  2. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner and click “Select”.
  3. Now select files.
  4. Tap the delete icon on the bottom row.

To permanently delete multiple files:

  1. Open Files and click Browse.
  2. Click “Recently Deleted” under Places.
  3. Now press and hold the file and then select Delete.
  4. Confirm by selecting Delete.

Recover Recently Deleted Items in the Files App

Let’s face it, life is a mess and we won’t be able to recapture moments with people who are gone forever. But at least you can recover deleted documents from the Files app. Here’s how:

  1. Open Files and click Browse.
  2. Click “Recently Deleted” under Places.
  3. Now press and hold on the file and then select “Recover”.

Restore Multiple Items

  1. Open Files and click Browse → Recently Deleted.
  2. Tap on the three dots in the top right corner.
  3. Now click “Select” and select files.
  4. Then click Restore.
Recover Deleted Files - How to use the Files app on iPhone or iPad like a pro

You can use markup tools for specific file types in the Files app to color and draw. For example, you can add caption, text, magnifier, sketch, draw on images, and PDF files. For this:

  1. Open the Files app and open the file.
  2. Tap the round pencil icon at the bottom right.
  3. Pick the tool of your choice and you can do whatever you want with it.
  4. After that, click “Finish” to complete.
Coloring Tools in Files - How to use the Files app on iPhone or iPad like a pro

Zip and unzip files on iPhone

It’s easy to zip and unzip files in the Files app. You can read more about it here with related screenshots. But be aware that the Files app won’t be able to open password-protected and encrypted files.

Use keyboard shortcuts in the Files app

You can quickly complete your tasks with keyboard shortcuts if you have connected a physical keyboard to your device. Check out our guide to learn how to use keyboard shortcuts in the Files app on iPad.

That’s all!

Ugh! It’s been a long ride, hasn’t it? But still, I hope that with the help of this detailed guide, you will be able to understand all the features that you can use in the Files app. If you still have any doubts or questions, let me know in the comments.


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❤ XOXO ❤

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