Even Apple fanatics have to admit (who am I kidding – no they don’t) that file management in the iPhone OS, or iOS, leaves you wanting. Many users – particularly of the iPad – have wished for an easier way to get files onto their device for viewing and editing on the go.
I’ve covered third-party file management apps for iPhone and iPad, which are nice, but here’s something a bit different: an iOS file management application that runs on your computer.
iPhone Explorer from Macroplant was recently updated to version 2, and one of the headline features of this update is the ability to drag-and-drop files into apps on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad – even those running iOS 4. Because you can now access the Apps folder structure and system files, you can do some pretty interesting things with transferred files.
First, the basics: iPhone Explorer v2.x works on both Macs and Windows (Windows support was added along with v2.0 and is still a bit rough around the edges), and gives you a familiar Finder/Explorer interface for getting files on to (and off of) iPhone/iOS devices. To get started, just plug your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into your computer via USB (requires iTunes 9.2+).
Okay. Here’s how to drag-and-drop files into apps in a nutshell. Inside the primary Apps folder are subfolders for each installed app. All apps have a folder called Documents in their directories:
An app like Pages that can “open” files (documents, images, databases, etc.) will have access to files stored in its Documents folder. So, if I drag a Word file (.DOC) into this folder, the next time I fire up Pages on my iPad, the Import Document feature will allow me to add this file to the list of editable documents, just it would if I had imported the file from a third-party file management program like Air Sharing HD.
The Kindle app is an interesting use case. I drag-and-drop .MOBI eBook files onto my Kindle 2 all of the time. Now, with iPhone Explorer v2, I can do that with the Kindle app, too. Just drag compatible (.AZW, .MOBI) eBook files into the Kindle > Documents > eBooks folder on the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and the file will be added to the Kindle Library on the device.
You should know that the functionality of placing files in apps’ Documents folders will vary based on the supported features of each app.
With iPhone Explorer, you can also create new folders, use iPhone OS/iOS devices as storage devices (drag-and-drop folders to store on the device for later access), get photos off your device and more. It’s free for use on both Windows and Mac OS, so give it a try.
Have an interesting idea of how to use iPhone Explorer v2.x? Share it in the comments section below.
Matthew Nichols, Products Editor