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

One app, all of your files across multiple cloud storage services -- that's Files on iOS 11.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

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.

Watch this: My favorite things in the iOS 11 beta for iPad Pro

iCloud Drive and more!

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

With the launch of iOS 11, storage apps are beginning to release updates to add support for Files. At the time of this writing, Box has released its updated app, and it works seamlessly in the Files app. 

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.

Services that support the Files app will look and act similar to the iCloud Drive service option. Apps that have yet to add support will display a pop-up (still within the Files app).


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 and 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?