(Review) FileApp: A Great iOS File Manager

The iPad is a great thing.

It is not, however, a computer. It's a shift away from the familiar hard drive directories. The new iPad owner has to surrender to a new way : you can't really root around the hard drive looking for a file, all user experience is controlled by an app, and getting the right app is key. As most of us have found out, finding that right app is a bizarre mixture of dumb luck, suggestions from co-workers and friends and the endless lists of best 10 apps proliferating on the web

The logistics of reading a 32mb pdf on an iPad:
how to get it, open it, and store it.

Sounds easy, right? Not necessarily so.

My sister, who works for an intellectual property rights lawyer, put together a series of documents into a pdf with thumbnails and bookmarks meant for an informal presentation. Her boss was adamant about wanting to use his ipad - it was an opportunity to show off his latest techno conquest. 

I had already turned her on to Dropbox and its corresponding app but, because I haven't been faced with the same issue, I didn't know if the file was on the ipad after downloading or just cached and updated through the wifi as needed. I discovered the hard way that Maps app does not localize any search results. I say "the hard way" because I was trying to find a feed store near downtown Nacogdoches (far away from from my Houston home wifi where I did the original search) only to find out too late that the map I was depending on wasn't stored on my ipad. It didn't occur to me that the Maps app wouldn't grab and store those maps. (If anyone has any suggestions how to do this, please, I beg you, help me not get lost again…)

Back to my sis. Through Dropbox, she downloaded the pdf  but was confused as to where the file actually resided and disappointed to find that the pdf lost all bookmarks and thumbnails when opened. She had 10 minutes to set up her boss' ipad before he had to leave for his meeting. Crossing platforms (mac to pc) is not so intimidating anymore but the process of pc-to-ipad was about to make her head explode . She called me for an answer since I am the alleged technobrat. 

Since I don't use my ipad for anything like this, I didn't have an easy answer other than " I don't know" and " I'll call you right back ". 

I googled "best pdf reader for ipad" which led me to 10 best pdf reader for ipad . I don't know if the the author actually used any of the apps on the list but Jae Vin's description suggested that FileApp would transfer the file through wifi. Since it was the only one on the page that specifically stated that it would manage the transfer of the pdf, its the one I chose to blindly recommend.

I called my sister back . A few minutes later she called back, relieved and grateful. FileApp was everything it promised and more. Not only did the app itself works as promised, it was easy enough for a harried paralegal to figure out in minutes. The added plus? FileApp made all the tough decisions.

Her relief peaked my interest enough to recreate her footsteps. I emailed her to ask about the process:

can you quickly describe the interaction of downloading the file & installing it into ibooks?
did fileapp do the heavy lifting or did dropbox?

She responded:

both -- I loaded file app, first you get an explanation how to use, then I used it to pull a file form drop box, it took me to drop box, pulled the file, and then couldn't open it because it was too big. It then told me to download ibooks if I didn't have it, even told me it was free, so I downloaded ibooks, then went back to file app which transferred the file to ibooks when I hit yes I think it was.

Aha! The real problem was ? Her boss didn't have anything that actually read and archived pdfs like Goodreader or iBooks 

If there had been a pdf reader app installed, my sister could have used the dropbox transfer option in the upper-right hand corner. Since there wasn't my sister was left feeling like she was screwing up the process on an iPad that didn't belong to her and had not set up.

Why FileApp rocked.

The final file size of the pdf she was trying to load was was 35mb and after trying to launch it, FileApp gave up and suggested she load it it iBooks. That's the key, it suggested she load iBooks. Suddenly, the problem didn't seem insurmountable. 

If this is all FileApp does, nudge you towards an solution, then this app is priceless. The free version does all this stuff:

  • View files and office documents on iphone 
  • View images and play audio and video files 
  • Transfer documents to iphone via usb (cable) using disk aid or itunes file sharing 
  • Transfer documents to iphone via wi-fi via ftp 
  • Browse files by folder, date, name or type 
  • Open zip files in folders 
  • Send single email attachments 
  • Delete files or folders 
  • Stores any file sent from any third party app (mail, safari…)
  • Makes opening files by using the familiar "open in…" and lists compatible apps (pages, numbers, ibook…)
  • Formats supported:
  • Microsoft office documents (word, excel, powerpoint), all formats supported
  • Scroll to page feature for all long documents (pdf)
  • Rtf and plain text (utf-8 encoding)
  • Iwork documents (pages, numbers and keynotes, iwork 09)
  • Opendocument (openoffice) (text, spreadsheet, presentation)
  • Html files
    • Safari web archives
    • Comic book archive files (.Cbz)
    • Uncompress zip archives
    • Fast scroll bar for text, webarchives, office, iwork and open office documents
  • Compatible with large images
  • Slideshow (with slideshow timer settings)
  • Button next & previous to browse images
  • Rotation portrait/landscape
  • Send images via email attachments
  • Support for comic book archive files (.Cbz)
  • Music & videos:
    • Audio (mp3 vbr, aac, audible, apple lossless, aiff, wav, caf)
    • Video (standard iphone formats : h.264, mpeg-4)
  • Email :
    • Sending of files via email for ms office documents, pdfs, images, open office documents, iwork documents, rtf, html and text.
    • Open attachments from 'mail' app (on ipad & ios 4)

And it is friendly:

  • Microsoft Windows XP, Vista & 7
  • Mac OS x (10.4 tiger, 10.5 leopard & 10.6 snow leopard)
  • Linux (gnome & kde) (wifi only)

Get FileApp»

see screen shots from ipad»


  1. ifile from cydia does everything you Said and need…

  2. Jim Janney says: