Software

How to use the Files app in iOS 11 on iPhones and iPads: 4 productivity tips

The Files app in iOS 11 offers advanced file management options for iPads and iPhones. The app also makes it easy to locate files in cloud services. Here are four productivity tricks for using Files.

iOS 11 includes an incredible list of new features that gives a lot of love to iPads. However, there's one app that will be available for iPhones and iPads that provides a new way to manage files on your devices and cloud accounts. This new app is called Files, and it's replacing the existing iCloud Drive app when iOS 11 is released later this year.

The Files app includes the ability to work with cloud services that have apps with iOS file sharing enabled within them—services like Dropbox, Box, etc. work right out of the box.

SEE: Apple's first employee: The remarkable odyssey of Bill Fernandez (PDF download) (TechRepublic)

This tutorial presents tricks for getting the most out of the Files app, including how to enable access to cloud services other than iCloud Drive and access the files stored in those services; how to create folders and organize your files; how to drag and drop files to improve your productivity; and how to tag and search for files.

1: How to enable cloud services other than iCloud Drive via Files in iOS 11

By default, iCloud Drive will be enabled inside of the Files app if you're signed into your iCloud account. If you have other apps installed that can take advantage of iOS' file sharing extensions, you can access the files stored in those apps and cloud services directly from within the Files app; this means that you no longer have to access multiple apps to manage files—file management can be handled under one roof.

With file management apps like Dropbox, Box, etc. installed, open the new Files app, and perform these steps.

  1. Select the Browse tab, and then tap it again to return to the main Browse view (if you're browsing other folders).
  2. Select the Edit button.
  3. To enable a third-party app, turn on the toggle next to the app's name (Figure A). Then it will appear under the Locations in the Files app.
  4. Select Done when you're finished.

Figure A

ios11filesfigurea.jpg

Enable all of the locations you wish to browse via the Files app by toggling the switch to the On position.

Now you can easily browse to the locations in the app you've enabled by selecting a location from the Locations menu in the Browse tab. You can do all of this without leaving the Files app.

Note: Even though you can browse other file services from the Files app, in order to use the features of the Files app (tagging, searching, etc.), you need to import the files into iCloud Drive first.

SEE: The Complete iOS 11 & Swift Developer Course: Build 20 Apps (TechRepublic Academy)

2: How to create folders and organize files via Files in iOS 11

Inside the Browse tab, you can easily create new folders to store and organize your files. Follow these steps to create a new folder.

  1. Open Files.
  2. Navigate to Browse | iCloud Drive.
  3. Select the new folder icon below the search bar.
  4. Type in a new name for the folder and tap Done (Figure B).

Figure B

ios11filesfigureb.jpg

The new folder will be created in your iCloud Drive; you can store files inside it.

3: How to drag and drop files via Files in iOS 11

With iOS 11, Apple introduces dragging and dropping throughout the system, and the Files app gets this ability (Figure C). You can now drag and drop files, folders, and more to move a file into a folder, or to move a folder into another folder.

On iPhones, drag and drop only works inside of the Files app to drag and drop files between folders, but on iPads, iOS 11 drag and drop works between apps as well. Drag a file from one app into the Files app, and then drag and drop a file from the Files app onto the app icon in the Dock to open the file in the app. This makes creating workflows and managing multiple files on iPads even easier with iOS 11 and the Files app.

Figure C

apple-ios-11-13.jpg
Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

4: How to tag and search via Files in iOS 11

Tagging files in the Finder is a new concept in iOS. The brand new Files app introduces the ability to tag files and then search by tags.

Tags can represent a collection of files that meet a certain criteria; for instance, you might tag all of the files on your iCloud Drive account that relate to work with a certain color tag, give taxes a different color tag, and use a different color tag for home items.

To customize your tags, perform these steps.

  1. Open the Files app.
  2. Navigate to the Browse tab.
  3. Scroll down to the Tags section (Figure D).
  4. Select Edit and then tap a tag to edit the name.
  5. Select Done when you're finished editing the names.

Figure D

ios11filesfigurec.jpg

By default, a tag's name is the name of the color dot; you can change a tag's name to represent whatever you'd like.

Now that the tags are customized to your liking, you can start tagging files and folders for easier searching. Follow these steps.

  1. Locate a file you wish to tag, and tap the file to open the file detail view.
  2. Select the share icon in the top right of the Files app.
  3. Tap the + Tag icon (Figure E, left).
  4. Tap the tag you wish to add (Figure E, right).
  5. Select Done.

Figure E

ios11filesfigured.jpg

The new share dialog features the ability to tag files inside of your iCloud Drive account.

Bonus tip: The new Add People button allows you to share files similar to Dropbox right from your iCloud Drive account.

Note: You can select multiple tags per file, and tags can also be applied to entire folders of files.

When you're ready to search, tap in the search bar at the top of either the Recents or Browse tabs. You can search by file name or the file's contents; or, you can search by tag name by entering the Browse tab, and then selecting one of the tag names in the Tags section—all of the relevant tagged files will appear.

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About Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...

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