How to Manage Your Files in iOS with the Files App

Files App Ios Featured

One of the most underrated apps on iOS (and iPadOS) is none other than the Files app. At first, it might look like a very simple file manager which doesn’t let you dive deep into system files on your iPhone or iPad. However, we guarantee that you’ll be surprised by what this app can do, especially when it comes to mobile productivity. 

Using the Files app, you can access both local and cloud files, import files from external drives, organize your files, view all kinds of file types, perform an in-depth inspection, and more. With that said, it’s time to talk about how to manage your files in iOS using the Files app.

1. Add New File Locations & Connect New Cloud Services

The Files app automatically includes the files you have saved to your device (locally) as well as to your iCloud Drive. The advantage the app gives you is that you can also access the content you have in other cloud services as well.

Files App Ios Editing Sidebar

If you look at the Browse sidebar (on the left side), you’ll see a group of “Locations.” Your iCloud Drive will be there as well as the files you have on your iPad and your recently deleted files. However, if you click on the button depicting three small dots in the upper-right corner and choose “Edit” or “Edit Sidebar,” you’ll get to add new locations (cloud services).

Files App Ios Editing File Locations

More precisely, you’ll see a toggle button next to each third-party cloud storage app that you have on your device, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. Once you are happy with your selection of services, tap on the option that says “Done.”

2. Move, Copy, Delete a File & More

By long-pressing on a file, you can do various things. You can either rename, duplicate, copy, delete, move, share, tag, or get more info on a file. Also, you will see a drop-down menu that’s specific to individual file types. Therefore, if you long-press on an image, you can rotate it left or right, create a PDF, and similar.

Files App Ios Move Copy Delete Dropdown Menu

If you choose “Tags,” you’ll be able to select a tag to label a file. You will then see a list of tags in the sidebar of the Files app, allowing you to easily organize files and get to specific tags in no time. 

Files App Ios Tagging Files

If you long-press on a folder, you’ll get a list of different options. Among those is an option labeled “Favorite.” You can choose that option, and the entire folder will then appear under “Favorites” in the sidebar. And just like with files, you can also copy, duplicate, move, and delete folders.

3. Manage, Duplicate, Share & Delete Files Without Drag and Drop

At any moment, you can manage files in the Files app using drag and drop. For example, if you want to move a file, you can drag it to a different folder. However, another way to manage files is similar to how you would do it on a computer. 

Files App Ios Standard Operations

First, open a folder containing any number of files, then tap on “Select” in the top-right corner. Next, select files and take a look at the bottom of your screen. You will see a menu bar that lets you share, duplicate, move, and delete files – in a batch. And if you tap on “More,” you can even compress files into a single ZIP archive. 

4. Find a Specific File/Folder by Searching

At any moment, you can search for a specific file or folder. Just tap on the “Search” field at the top of your screen, then go with a phrase for the file you want. For example, you can search for “Images,” and the Files app can further assist by allowing you to look up JPEG or PNG images. 

Files App Ios Search Functionality

You can also narrow your search by choosing “Recents” or “iCloud Drive” (just below the search field at the top of your screen). Using those tabs, the Files app can navigate to specific files or folders more quickly. 

5. Create a New Folder & Add Existing Documents/Files

Creating a new folder in the Files app, then adding files, is quite easy. Long-press on a blank space in the Files app where you want the folder to appear, and tap on “New Folder.” Alternatively, you can press the “New Folder” button in the top-right corner of your iPad’s screen. If you use an iPhone, tap on “More” and then select “New Folder.”

Files App Ios Naming New Folders

To add files to your new folder, you can first select any number of files, then tap on “Move” at the bottom of your screen. A pop-up will appear so that you can navigate to your newly created folder. Easy, right?

6. Recover Deleted Files via the Files App

As soon as you open the Files app, you will see a list of locations within the app’s sidebar. This is also where you’ll find an item named “Recently Deleted.” As you can already guess, this is the location of the files you’ve deleted, waiting to be either recovered or permanently erased.

Files App Ios Recovering Deleted Files

If you would like to recover a deleted file, long-press on it and select “Recover.” And if you want to free up some space on your device, tap on “Delete Now.” At any moment, you can also choose “Info” to get additional information about a folder or file.


You’ll use the Files app in more situations than just within the actual app. When you’re in another app and click to add a file, it will direct you back to the Files app. You’ll very soon begin to wonder how you got along without the Files app on your iPhone or iPad. 

In the end, we’d like to recommend a couple of useful resources as well. You’ll want to know how to check what’s taking up your iCloud storage space, useful for diving into your files. And speaking of organizing things, here’s how to organize your iPhone apps.

Isaac Norman
Isaac Norman

Isaac is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience covering the latest technological innovations. Mainly focused on Apple-related software and hardware systems, his aspiration is to explore all the ways today's digital world intertwines with our everyday life.

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