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Need Help With iOS 11 Files App

warc1

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I'm moving this from the "iOS 11 Issues" thread since that is probably not the best place for an ongoing discussion on this subject. The quoted text below is in response to my question on how to create folders in the "On My iPad" page of the new Files app.

At this time there does not appear to be a way of creating a local folder on the iPad that is both app and cloud service independent.

I am not understanding the operation or intent of the Files app at all. I thought it was bringing the ability to access and manage local files on an Apple device, but it would appear that you cannot do that in any comprehensive way. Apparently, I have no ability to create folders beyond the four default ones on my iPad (GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers and Pages). That makes it pretty close to useless for me.

As a possible workaround, you imply that you can create a folder on a cloud service that can also be stored locally. How is that done? Can all cloud files be mirrored and synced locally, or even better, can I specify a subset of cloud based files to be mirrored locally?
 
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I am not understanding the operation or intent of the Files app at all. I thought it was bringing the ability to access and manage local files on an Apple device, but it would appear that you cannot do that in any comprehensive way. Apparently, I have no ability to create folders beyond the four default ones on my iPad (GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers and Pages). That makes it pretty close to useless for me.

As a possible workaround, you imply that you can create a folder on a cloud service that can also be stored locally. How is that done? Can all cloud files be mirrored and synced locally, or even better, can I specify a subset of cloud based files to be mirrored locally?

Hello and welcome to the forum! :) I'm assuming that you're coming from the world of Windows, correct? If so, Apple's iOS is an App Centric operating system vs. file-centric approaches such as Explorer or Finder in macOS, so do not expect to view a hierarchical file tree that can be manipulated w/ folders and file transfers - not what Apple wants w/ this mobile device OS, sorry.

Also, I'm assuming that you've done little reading on the 'new' files feature of iOS 11 - if not, then take a look at this Apple Manual Link and also this MacRumors article - hopefully, these discussions will better explain the uses and limitations of this new app (pics below of both links). Dave :)
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Hi Dave

Thanks for the response. I've been an iOS user since 2010 so I am very familiar with the app-centric focus of that operating system. Last year I bought an iPad Pro 9.7 as a potential laptop replacement. It has fallen far short of that goal for reasons I outlined here:

Will the iPad Pro replace your Laptop or your smaller iPad?

With the announcement of the Files app, I had renewed hope that maybe Apple was addressing what I consider to be the single greatest restriction preventing iPads from being true computing devices and not just data consumption devices. Even the references you cite above state that Files is intended to "be the best argument yet for using an iPad as your go-to mobile computer." However, it can't be that if you can't truly work with files locally on the device.

My go-to mobile computer is currently a Microsoft Surface Pro. I would love if the iPad Pro fulfilled that role as I much prefer its form factor. However, the iPad cannot replicate the versatility of the Surface. On that device, I have access to 1TB of cloud storage on OneDrive as my main data source. I sync up with OneDrive over wi-fi before going mobile to have the files I need on the road. I then work with those files and add new files (photos and videos) before resyncing the next time I have wi-fi access.

I don’t see how to do that with the iPad using Files unless I am missing something. I do have the iOS OneDrive app, along with Google Drive and iCloud apps, but I need a persistent wireless connection to make that work. Transferring hundreds of 50MB photo files and 1GB video files back and forth in real time is not viable over cell. I paid good money to get 256GB of storage capacity on my iPad and I don’t understand why Apple is doing everything in its power to prevent me from using it.
 
I had a fairly long post, but in the process of writing it I came to a much simpler understanding of what is going on. There are two basic things happening here, and everything else follows from them.

1) You can not create a folder that is not owned by an app. You’ve never been able to access the iOS file system outside an app, and that has not changed. Sandboxing remains in effect.

2) The ‘On My iPad’ folder is not an app folder. It is a list of app folders that Apple chooses not to list in the top level directory.

While I’m not 100% sure about what goes in the top level and what in the ‘On My iPad’ folder, this is my theory.

The top level list is for cloud storage apps and for document providers. Some apps are both. These are the kinds of app folders you’re likely to be accessing a lot, adding, deleting, and moving files around.

The ‘On My iPad’ folder might be more completely named ‘On My iPad and Nowhere Else, and I Don’t Really Want Other Apps Storing Thier Junk Here’ folder. You probalby don’t need to be using these files ouside their apps (or the developer doesn’t think you’ll want or need to move files in/out of their app often, or just hasn’t updated the app yet).
 
. . . I don’t see how to do that with the iPad using Files unless I am missing something. I do have the iOS OneDrive app, along with Google Drive and iCloud apps, but I need a persistent wireless connection to make that work. Transferring hundreds of 50MB photo files and 1GB video files back and forth in real time is not viable over cell. I paid good money to get 256GB of storage capacity on my iPad and I don’t understand why Apple is doing everything in its power to prevent me from using it.

Besides the cloud storage apps, there are also document providers. These apps let you store pretty much any document, and while they may not be able to display/edit all file types, they do give you access to all the extentions and File app’s features; which means moving files in/out of the folder, editing files in place with other apps (if those apps support it) and other near-open-file-system-tricks are possible.

I use Documents by Readdle for this. The best part (for me) is that Documents lets me store things in the cloud or locally. It has a folder both in iCloud (and/or other providers) and at the top level directory (which is local storage). Documents also supports a wide range of methods to tranfer files on/off the iPad.

I chose Documents because it has excelent PDF tools (expecialy if you get PDF Expert too), and will let you view a wider range of other document types. Since most of my documents are PDF, that saves me lot of fiddling around with other apps. But, there are other document providers that may suite you better, so do some research before deciding.

Another consideration is the reputation and stabilty of the developer. While not a disaster, it would be annoying to have to move your folders arround every year or so whenever a developer gets bored, or goes out of business.

P.S. I don’t store everything in Documents. If a file is probalby never going to be worked on outside of a specific app, I generally leave it there. The only exception would be if it is part of a project or archive that mixes file types. Then I’ll put up with the extra step or two it takes to keep things organized in one place.
 
Can I just add to Twerppoet’s post, that as a happy user of Readdle Documents, I also use Stratospherix FileBrowser as it allows me to import/ export spreadsheets and other file types locally from cloud storage and shared drives that Documents may not handle,

Between the two, with an obvious overlap, they cover my needs and both will save files locally.
 
Hi Dave

Thanks for the response. I've been an iOS user since 2010 so I am very familiar with the app-centric focus of that operating system. Last year I bought an iPad Pro 9.7 as a potential laptop replacement. It has fallen far short of that goal for reasons I outlined here:

Will the iPad Pro replace your Laptop or your smaller iPad?

With the announcement of the Files app, I had renewed hope that maybe Apple was addressing what I consider to be the single greatest restriction preventing iPads from being true computing devices and not just data consumption devices.....

Hi again Warc. - sorry about not knowing your 'long experience' w/ iOS - just going from your date of joining the forum and number of posts - a lot of 'Windows users' recently migrating to an iDevice are often frustrated w/ the 'app-centric' approach for Apple's mobile device operating system.

Also, thanks for the further information and the link - relative to 'file management' and if not already researched, you might want to visit the iMazing and iExplorer websites - these are apps that reside on your PC or Mac computer and with an iDevice cabled permit a number of file management features - I have both on my Mac computers (2 laptops & one iMac) - these may not satisfy your needs, but I believe that each has a 'trial' period. Good luck and let us know your results. Dave :)
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I’m one that so far just does not get the new Files app. At the very least I was hoping for a comprehensive search that spanned ALL locations. Maybe it’s there but I haven’t found it.
I also use Documents for the reasons in Twerppoet's post as well as FileBrowser for the reasons in Nsquirrel's post. I have not found a good use for the Files app yet.
 
I’m one that so far just does not get the new Files app. At the very least I was hoping for a comprehensive search that spanned ALL locations. Maybe it’s there but I haven’t found it.
I also use Documents for the reasons in Twerppoet's post as well as FileBrowser for the reasons in Nsquirrel's post. I have not found a good use for the Files app yet.

Provided that you have not disabled it, Files is included in Siri and Spotlight searches.

Also, as near as I can tell, a search from within Files searches all the folders in Files, not just the one you happen to be in at the time. It’s also more useful than the Spotlight search, which for some reason won’t open or take you to a Files search result. I’m hopping that’s a bug, since it makes the Files result in Spotlight next to useless.


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Things I do with the Files app:

  • Save Safari and Mail downloads directly to the folder I want, instead of having to copy it to an app, and then movie it where I want.
  • Move files directly from one app to another, without opening either app.
  • Rename files.
  • Create and organize folder structures.
  • Get info for a file, like size, type, etc. This is sometimes available in an app, but not often.
  • Browse and share/email files directly.

Perhaps the largest benifit is that apps that are updated to support the new files system provide a Files style folder view with pretty much all it’s features. This gives uses a lot of control over what cloud services they use with what apps, and where in those services those files end up being stored. Before, if your app did not support a cloud service you had to use workarounds. Now, it’s built in.

When it comes to file storage, DropBox, Google Drive, Box, and other cloud services have been placed on a nearly equal footing with iCloud. Apple made clear that this was intentional when they updated the iWorks apps with the abilty to save (by default) to any installed cloud service app (or document provider).

It’s not so much the Files app itself that is a big deal (some people may never use it), but the new file system/features that it reveals and and allows apps access to is a very big deal.

Again, not everyone will need or use Files or the expanded folder system, but it’s a welcome and necessary step towards making the iPad a more powerful (even profesional) tool.
 
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Twerppoet, thanks for this help. It will be very helpful once I get past the search issue. After more trials, the search now only produces hits in iCloud in any app. It does not find files within apps such as Documents. If I understand your post, a search in Files should find a file in Documents. I checked settings to agree with your input. I’m stumped right now but still looking. Thanks.
 
Well heck. I just figured that it was working everywhere because all the files I keep in Documents showed up; but I keep almost all my files in Documents’ iCloud folder. Another search showed that the few files I have in my Document’s local folder do not appear in search.

So, I did some more testing, and my results were:

I can search for files in my all my cloud services; with the possible exception of OneDrive, which I did not test because it has not been updated to work natively with the Files app. This includes iCloud Drive, DropBox, Drive (Google), and Box.

I can search files from folders that are in the ‘On My iPad’ folder. Well, at least in Byword. I did not test the other three folders.

I can not search for files in other top-level app folders, including Documents, PDF Expert, iCab Mobile, and Working Copy. I’m not sure about Explain Everything, since I don’t have any files in that folder.

I was wrong.
 
Thanks for your research. Disappointing. Maybe a future update. I still need to try the actions on your list so I can make better use of the app.
 

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