How to Add Third-Party Locations to Turn the iOS Files App into Finder

The Files application was introduced on the iPhone and iPad with iOS 11 in 2017, and it brought much needed access to files for iOS. In the typical Apple way, its true power is well hidden. Here's how to turn files into iOS Finder.

If you have ever ventured into the Files application, you have probably seen it in its most basic form. Before adding additional file sources (called "Locations" by Files), things may seem pretty rare. Of course, browsing the locally saved files on your device is way better than what we had before, but things get really interesting once you start adding placements.

The slots are storage areas that iOS applications can present in the Files application. They essentially allow you to tap into these applications and the data that they have stored, all from Files. It does not look amazing until you think about the applications that support the files. We immediately think of Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive, and with any of these added as a location, you can browse the content of these cloud storage providers directly from Files. Everything synchronizes exactly as in applications. Therefore, if you add a file to your Dropbox folder on a Mac, it appears in the Files application, and vice versa.

It is this type of integration that does a lot to make the files behave like the Finder, but there are others.

Applications that you would not normally associate with storage can also present information to files. An example would be the excellent Keep it, an application for organizing files such as PDF files, images, etc. Keep It also presents everything it contains as a place in files, giving you instant access to everything without opening the application. Want to add a file to Keep It for later processing? Simply drop it in the Keep it in Files folder and it will wait for you to open the application on your iPhone, iPad or even Mac.

So, how do you make all this magic happen? It's surprisingly easy!

Adding a location in files

To start, open the Files application on your iPhone or iPad.

To start adding a new location, tap the "Edit" icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

You will now see a list of potential locations with flip-flops next to them. Any installed application that supports the location of files appears here. To activate a location, move it to the "On" position. You can also rearrange the placements by dragging their handles up and down the list.

After activating the locations of your choice, press the "Done" button in the upper right corner.

That's all we can say about it. To start browsing a location, tap on it in Files. You will see the folder structure in the location and you will be able to use all your files from this location.

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