Why can't I download files to my iPhone / iPad?
Downloading Files and Documents to your iPhone or iPad:
On a computer, downloading files is a breeze. Click a few times and boom you have your file ready to go when you need it. On iOS there are unfortunately a few more steps. Apple mobile devices lack a user file system and this can be confusing for some people. This tutorial will give you a few options on how to go about downloading files to your iPhone or iPad.
Where do the files go?
In recent years Apple has attempted to make the lack of a file system easier to get around with the addition of iCloud and iCloud Drive. They have also allowed 3rd party companies such as Dropbox access to files as well. These files won't actually be on your device most of the time, they will be accessible through the internet and in some rare cases available for offline use.
The Download Process
You can download most any type of file that you want, be it a .pdf that you need for school or a .mp4 video that you want to be able to watch whenever you like. If the file is available it can be downloaded. Apple will allow you to put anything into your iCloud drive but certain file types it won't allow you to access from your iPhone or iPad. This is where Dropbox comes in, which we will be using for the majority of this tutorial. If you don't happen to have a Dropbox account, you can sign up for one for free at https://www.dropbox.com/register. Alternatively you can use Google Drive but that won't be covered in this tutorial.
- From you iPhone or iPad, go to Safari and open up the file that you want to download.
- Tap the Share button, this will bring up the Share page.
- From this page select "Save to Dropbox". You may not see this option, and if so swipe all the way to the right side and tap on the "More" option. The new menu will allow you to enable Dropbox.
- Once you have tapped the "Save to Dropbox" option a new menu will appear, tap "Save" at the top right to save to your Dropbox account.
- You're done! The file is available on your Dropbox account. This allows all of your devices with Dropbox activated to access your file.
Downloading is difficult on iOS
Unfortunately, downloading files on iOS devices is a pain. It feels like you have to jump through hoops to be able to get the file you want. Apple has given us a few ways to manage files but none of them involve the actual device. They all include hosting the files somewhere in the cloud. This tutorial is meant to help you understand how to work around this limitation.