The new Files app in iOS 11 replaces iCloud Drive, offers a lot more functionality than its predecessor, and provides perhaps the best argument yet for using an iPad as your go-to mobile computer.

In Files, you have access not only to the files stored on your device and in iCloud, but also to those stored in third-party services that support integration with the app. Files also exploits all of the new multitasking gestures in iOS 11, making its file organization capabilities even more powerful.

The Files Interface

The Files app interface is very straightforward, although it varies from device to device and based on orientation, with various combinations using multiple columns, single columns with pages, or pop-overs. For the purposes of this overview, we'll look at using an iPad in landscape orientation, the most common setup for those doing productivity work.

Down the left side of the screen, in the Browse column, are links to your file sources, Favorites, and Tags to view files that are tagged with a particular color.

IMG 323500CABE8A 1
Over in the main window you'll see the files and folders in the selected location, which you can view by name, date, size, or tags. There's a button on the right of these options that you can tap to switch between list and icon view, while the button on the left lets you create a new folder.

At the bottom of the screen are two buttons to switch between the default Browse view and a Recents view, which is useful for returning to the files you were last working with.

IMG 0084
In either view, you can open a file in the main window simply by tapping it, or you can perform a long press on a file or folder to access a range of options, including rename, share, tag, favorite, and more. However, the best thing about the Files app is that you can organize multiple files quickly and easily by utilizing the new drag-and-drop features exclusive to iOS 11.

Moving Files With Drag and Drop

IMG 31B1ECA18F22 1

  1. Tap and hold a file you want to move, and it will expand slightly, ready to follow your finger around the screen.
  2. To move additional files, tap them while holding the original file and they will stack up underneath your finger.
  3. Keeping the same finger on the screen, use another finger – preferably one on your other hand – to browse the Files interface and locate a destination folder for the selected files.
  4. With the destination folder open, simply lift your finger from the screen to drop the files inside.

There's nothing to stop you from using iOS 11 drag-and-drop gestures to take files out of the Files app and move them into other iOS apps, as long as the app in question supports the file type. You might drag an image file into the Photos app to add it to your Photos Library, for example.

Organizing Your Files Manually

If you're uncomfortable using drag-and-drop gestures, you can organize your files using more traditional touch controls. Here's how.

IMG EDB71E7264A5 1

  1. Navigate to the folder containing the files you want to work with, and tap the Select button at the top-right of the screen.
  2. The Browse column will dim to put the focus on the currently selected folder. From here, you can tap one or more files to add a check mark against them indicating they've been selected for an action. A list of possible actions will appear along the bottom of the screen, including the option to duplicate or delete the file(s).
  3. Tap "Share" to bring up the iOS Share sheet, where you can send the file(s) to other people or apps, as well as access copy, print, and other actions.
  4. Tap the "Move" option and the Files app will present you with a directory tree, allowing you to navigate to the desired location for the file or files you've selected.

Tagging Documents

Using tags in the new Files app will help you locate particular files more easily, and they work much the same as tags do in macOS. As you'd expect, tapping a colored tag in the Browse column shows you all the files you've assigned that particular tag. To tag a file or folder, simply tap and hold it, and then drag it onto a tag in the sidebar.

IMG AE53E6EEC574 1

Linking Third-Party Storage Services

If you install a third-party storage app on your iOS device, it should automatically appear in the Files app under the Locations list. If the service doesn't appear, then it doesn't yet support Files integration. Services that do support Files app integration include Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Transmit, with more to come soon.

Tag: Files
Related Forum: iOS 11

Top Rated Comments

JetTester Avatar
57 months ago
I guess slowly teaching them.
Hey sonny, we're old, not stupid. Many of us were working on computers before you were born! :-)
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tkermit Avatar
57 months ago
It still feels like Apple has managed to make file management a whole lot more confusing. Who really knows where things are stored anymore, how you get to them and what results in them (not) being copied/moved/opened in place. With traditional file management, at least there was a chance I could explain it to my mom or dad (whether they would listen is another matter), now even I have no idea what's going on. I suppose at least Apple has created a level playing field where nobody has an intuition about how things work anymore.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nnoble Avatar
57 months ago
I wonder how elders are gonna figure out stuff with these complex features.
What d’you mean by elders - anyone over 18? I’m heading for 70 and I’ve no choice but to keep up. My elder brother is 80 next year and he can’t operate without accessing his stuff. I think motivation and maybe patience, rather than age, is the driver for coping with change.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
artfossil Avatar
57 months ago
I wonder how elders are gonna figure out stuff with these complex features.
It’s not that hard. Really. Sometimes we even, you know, read an article that points out the new features.

This elder loves the new Files app. Especially the iCloud files management—much better than the old iCloud Drive.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Booch21 Avatar
57 months ago
Hey sonny, we're old, not stupid. Many of us were working on computers before you were born! :)
Back in our day, a file system was as good as the rubber band holding the stack of punch cards together!

I think any of us who worked with punch cards and large floppy disks can handle a phone file system.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
melchior Avatar
57 months ago
crazy that we've gone full circle on file management and ended up with a much more complex environment that if we had access to the underlying file system.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

ProMotion Now Expected to Remain Exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro Models, Not Expand to Entire Lineup

Sunday January 16, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Continuing the tradition set with the iPhone 13 Pro, only the highest-end iPhone 14 models will feature Apple's ProMotion display technology, according to a respected display analyst. Ross Young, who on multiple occasions has detailed accurate information about Apple's future products, said in a tweet that ProMotion will not be expanded to the entire iPhone 14 lineup and will remain...
AirPods Pro Gen 3 Mock Feature Red

AirPods Pro 2 Could Start a New Accessory Ecosystem

Friday January 14, 2022 2:34 am PST by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro could arrive alongside a new series of accessories, recent leaked images suggest. Alleged leaked photos of the next-generation AirPods Pro obtained by MacRumors showed a charging case with a metal loop on the side for attaching a strap. Apple has not used this design for any of its other AirPod models and it is unclear why it would be added in this...
Unlikely Products 2022 Feature

Six Rumored Apple Products You're Unlikely to See This Year

Saturday January 15, 2022 2:06 pm PST by
Much has been said about what consumers could see from Apple in 2022, but the company is also working on a handful of rumored products that aren't expected to be unveiled for at least another 12 months, and in some cases a lot longer. Of course, that's assuming they get released at all. Apple works on many potential products some of which ultimately never see the light of day. With that in...
safari icon blue banner

Safari Bug Allows Websites to Track Your Recent Browsing Activity in Real Time

Sunday January 16, 2022 3:37 pm PST by
A bug in WebKit's implementation of a JavaScript API called IndexedDB can reveal your recent browsing history and even your identity, according to a blog post shared on Friday by browser fingerprinting service FingerprintJS. In a nutshell, the bug allows any website that uses IndexedDB to access the names of IndexedDB databases generated by other websites during a user's browsing session....
ipad air 4 video

New iPad Air Rumored to Launch This Spring With A15 Chip, 5G, Center Stage Camera, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 8:05 pm PST by
Apple is planning to release a fifth-generation iPad Air with similar features as the sixth-generation iPad mini, including an A15 Bionic chip, 12-megapixel Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage support, 5G for cellular models, and Quad-LED True Tone flash, according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. Citing reliables sources in China, the report claims that the new iPad Air could be...
netflix2

Netflix Again Raises Prices for All Plans, 4K Streaming Now $20 Per Month

Friday January 14, 2022 12:46 pm PST by
Netflix today updated the prices for its streaming plans, and all of its offerings are now more expensive. The Basic plan is now priced at $9.99 per month, the Standard plan is priced at $15.49 per month, and the Premium plan is priced at $19.99 per month. The Basic plan is $1 more expensive, up from $8.99 per month. This plan allows users to watch on just one screen at a time, and it limits ...
top stories 20220115

Top Stories: iPhone 14 Pro Rumors, iCloud Private Relay Controversy, iOS 15.2.1 Released, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 6:00 am PST by
Hole-punch? Pill? Hole-punch and pill? Rumors about what the front camera system on the iPhone 14 Pro will look like are evolving rapidly, and it now appears we might be getting a novel but potentially controversial design later this year. Other major stories this week included some confusion and controversy about iCloud Private Relay being disabled for some T-Mobile customers, increasing...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole 16x9 120hz

Analyst: All iPhone 14 Models to Feature 120Hz Displays, 6GB of RAM, and More

Friday January 14, 2022 7:02 am PST by
Apple is rumored to announce four new iPhone 14 models in September, and ahead of time, analyst Jeff Pu has outlined his expectations for the devices. In a research note with Haitong International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Pu claimed that all iPhone 14 models will feature ProMotion displays, compared to only Pro models currently. ProMotion enables a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz ...