How to...

Transfer files and folders to an iPhone or iPad App from a Mac or PC

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch do not have centralised file systems. Instead, each app has its own folder called sandbox. An app's sandbox is not shared with other apps, and is not accessible from a computer.

However, some iOS apps let you access their sandbox's Documents folder. These are referred to as File Sharing enabled apps. Simply put, these apps let you browse, upload and download files in their Documents folder.

iTunes provides a limited and simplistic interface to add, copy, or delete files from file sharing enabled apps.

iMazing provides a much more full featured way of interacting with file sharing enabled apps, via USB or Wi-Fi. It greatly expands on what is possible with iTunes:

  • Browse and transfer folder hierarchy
  • Preview files
  • Rename files and folders
  • Display items in multiple view types (list, icons, columns)
  • Sort files by name, date, size, or kind
  • List all ongoing transfer operations

All file sharing enabled apps are not created equal. What app is right for you will greatly depend on the type of document you want to use it with. In this guide, we'll use FileApp, our free file manager and document reader, but the instructions below apply to any file sharing enabled apps such as VLC or Kindle.

Have a look at the Going Further section at the end of this article for a list of our favorite compatible apps.

Who is this guide for?

Anyone who wants to easily and quickly copy files back and forth between their Mac or PC computer to their iPhone, iPad or iPod without iTunes.

Before you begin

Download and install iMazing on your Mac or PC computer

Instructions

To transfer files from a Mac or PC computer to an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch:

  1. Launch iMazing and connect your device.
  2. In the left sidebar, select Apps.To see your most recent data, you may need to refresh your view.
    iMazing with apps selected in the sidebar
  3. In iMazing's main window, select your application and navigate to its Documents folder.
    iMazing apps view with fileapp selected
  4. In the bottom toolbar, click one of the action buttons of your choice:
    iMazing apps view with actions selected in bottom toolbar
  • Copy to Mac/PC – transfer files to your Mac or PC computer.
  • Copy to Device – transfer files to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
  • Delete – delete files from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
  • New Folder – create a new folder on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

💡 Tips:

  • You can drag and drop files and folders from the Documents folder to your computer, and vice versa.
  • To quickly access your favorite apps, add them as a shortcut

Backup Folder

If you've backed up your device, you'll notice that you have a Backup folder in addition to the app's Documents folder.

In this folder you can browse backed up app files from the backup folder, even if the app is not sharing enabled. This is a great way to access data that is usually hidden, and find out precisely which files are included in your backups.

App with backup folder selected

What to keep in mind

  • Not all apps support file sharing; it's up to the app's developer to enable file sharing.

  • You can filter out apps which are not compatible with file sharing: click Options in the bottom toolbar, and select Only show sharing enabled apps.

    iMazing Apps view options

  • You can also check whether or not an app is file sharing enabled by looking at the icon of its Documents folder.

    The Kindle iOS app, enables file sharing: it's Documents folder is accessible.

    Documents icon when file sharing is enabled

    The Spotify iOS app, does not have file sharing enabled: its Documents folder is not accessible.

    Documents icon when file sharing is disabled

  • If your device is running iOS 8.2 or below, the sandbox of all applications is fully accessible. To protect user privacy, Apple disabled this in iOS 8.3.

Going further

Some of our favorite File Sharing apps are:

AppPrice Description
AudioShare $4.99 An audio file manager.
Documents free An easy, beautiful, and free FileManager by our friends Readdle
FileApp free A neat little file manager (OK, we made it!)
GoodReader $4.99 One of the most popular iOS file managers.
Infuse free / $9.99 (Pro) Best video player around
Kindle free Great for PDFs and ebooks
VLC free The most popular video player




imazing

Updated 27 Jun, 2016

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