Keeping Track of Documents with Files on the iPhone X

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

After nearly a decade without an actual file system, iOS finally has one, and the new Files app on the iPhone X is proof. More than just a replacement for iOS 10’s iCloud Drive app, Files lets you see and manage files from third-party cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive in addition to files stored in iCloud.

The Files app has two tabs — Recents and Browse. Recents is a one-trick pony that displays files you’ve modified recently. The Browse tab is where the action is. You can browse files and folders on your iCloud Drive and other cloud-storage services, and view and restore files deleted from your iPhone in the past 30 days.

The Browse tab has three subsections:

  • Locations: Tap iCloud Drive to view files stored in iCloud; tap Recently Deleted to view recently deleted files.

    To add a third-party cloud storage service, first install its app (Dropbox, Google Drive, and so on) from the App Store, and then tap Edit in the top-right corner of the screen to enable it. Tap Done when you’re done.

    Other options for files and folders include the following:

    • Tap a folder to view its contents.
    • Long-press a file or folder to Copy, Duplicate, Rename, Move, Delete, Share, Tag, or Get Info on it.
    • Tap items with a cloud-and-arrow icon to download them to your iPhone.
    • Tap the pencil tip icon in the upper-right corner to annotate the file. Note that annotation is available only for PDF and other image file formats.
  • Favorites: To add a folder to the Favorites section, long-press the folder icon and then choose Favorite from the scrolling menu that appears above it. At present, you can designate favorites only from your iCloud Drive. And only folders (not individual files) can be designated as favorites.
  • Tags: If you use macOS Finder tags, they’ll appear in the Tags section. Or long-press to tag a file in the Files app. Then tap a tag here to see all available files with that tag.

One last thing: Both the Recents and Browse tabs have a search field at the top. So if you can’t find a file or folder by browsing Locations or Recents, try searching instead.