How to Access and Manage Files Your iPad

Gary from Rhode Island writes:

How do I find out the names of the files on my tablet? And then access a given file?

If you have been using a computer for any length of time, you will probably have become accustomed to accessing your files with a traditional folder management system in Windows or OS X. You create, or download files, and then store them on your desktop or in a folder somewhere so that you can get to them when you need them. However things are not quite as simple onĀ  an iPad tablet. At least, not at first.

Where are the Files Stored on my iPad?

Apple takes a different approach from what you’re used to on a computer. The iPad has no visible file structure, and any files that you have are really only accessible through a compatible app. So, if you create a file on your iPad, it will really only be immediately accessible from the app that you created it with or an app that you send the file to.

If you attempt to download a file when you are online, it will open inside the browser you are using. If you need an offline version of that file, you have to tap the screen and use the “Open in” function to open it into an app of your choice. From now on, you can access the file through the app you chose.

Open in from Safari on the iPad

However, there are also a number of file manager apps available for the iPad. While they don’t give you access to the original location of the files themselves, (Apple does not allow this) they do at least let you consolidate copies of all your files in one location. So, instead of opening PDFs into the Adobe Reader app, and Word files into Pages, you can open them both into a file manager app. One of the best is Documents by Readdle. It is clean, simple to use, and has a lot of file management options. With this free app installed, you can manage and find files quickly and easily. Here’s how:

1. Tap on the Sharing icon in the app that contains the file you want

The sharing icon on the iPad

2. Choose Open in another app, and select Documents from the list of apps you are given. This will immediately take a copy of the file you were working on and open it into the Documents app.

Open in another app

3. By default, the file will open when you send it to the Documents app, but you can tap Back to return to the list of files that you have in the Documents app.

Return to Documents List

4. Tap Edit in the top right hand corner to access more options like creating folders or renaming files. Simply tap the file you want to manage and then choose from the options on the left hand side of the Documents app. If you connect a cloud account like Dropbox or Google Drive, you can even move some of your files off the iPad and into your cloud account!

Manage files in the Documents app by Readdle

Accessing and managing files on table devices is not as easy as it might by on a Mac or a PC, but once you get used to the ecosystem you are working with, it is still perfectly possible to find the files you need without too much effort.

~ Jonathan

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