8 tips and tricks for the new Files app on iOS 11


The iCloud Drive app had a short life, launching with iOS 9 two years ago. It’s now replaced by the Files app in iOS 11. There’s more to the new app than a simple name change, with features aplenty. Let’s take a look at what’s new.

iCloud Drive and more!

Not only will you find your iCloud Drive files, created and used by third-party apps, Apple’s own suite of apps, or on your Mac, in the Files app, but third-party storage services can also integrate with the app.

During the beta, Dropbox, Google Drive and PDF Expert were present in the Locations section of the app. It’s possible more apps will work with Files after being updated for iOS 11 (to be clear, I wasn’t testing an iOS 11 specific version of the apps named, they just worked).

Add additional services

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Add or remove a storage option in the Locations section of the app. Tap Edit and then toggle the switch next to each supported service to the appropriate setting.

Right now, third-party apps show up in a different view, and not in the same interface as the Files app. One would think after the official release of iOS 11 and apps start updating for the new OS, the method for interacting with files stored in the likes of Dropbox or Google Drive will look and work just like the iCloud Drive files.



Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Long-press on a file or folder to bring up a list of actions you can use. Current options for individual files are Copy, Duplicate, Rename, Move, Delete, Share, Tags, Info. 

Folders have the same options, with one exception. Share is replaced by Favorite. Favorite a folder to include it in the Locations section of the Files app.

What’s the cloud icon?

Any item with a cloud icon with down arrow through it has not yet been downloaded to your iOS device. You will need to tap on the file to download it before you can interact with it. Be mindful of large files if you’re on a mobile connection.

Limited ZIP support


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The first iteration of the Files app has very limited ZIP file support. You can’t compress a set of files, creating a ZIP in the process. Nor can you unzip a compressed folder.

To that end, viewing what’s inside a ZIP file is possible, albeit limited as well.

A preview tool built into the Files app will open the ZIP, let you peek around, extract one file at a time if you wish, and, well, that’s about it.

iCloud Sharing


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

After opening the Share Sheet for a file, you may notice that’s an option to “Add People.” Select this option if you wish to use Apple’s iCloud Drive sharing tool. Yes, iCloud Sharing is now a thing.

You can invite others to view and edit the file or document of your choosing, which will sync between all accounts involved.

Drag and drop isn’t iPad-only


Jason Cipriani/CNET

iOS 11 adds a handy drag-and-drop feature to the iPad line, with some spill over to the iPhone. In the Files app, for example, long-press on a single file until it hovers, then tap on additional files to create a virtual stack of files. Drag the files to a new location, then lift your finger.

This method works on both the iPad and iPhone, with the iPad also supporting moving files between apps. The iPhone, however, only supports moving files within the Files app.



Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Files will curate the most recently accessed files and put them on display in the Recents section of the app. On the iPad, you don’t have to launch the app to view recent files, however.

Long-press the Files icon for a couple of seconds until a pop-up with recent files is visible. From there you can open or drag a file to another app. Neat, right?

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