Even though iOS and iPadOS are still intuitive and well-designed mobile operating systems, it’s not always easy to find saved files on iPhone and iPad.
The lack of a systemic folder and file structure is what makes iOS so perplexing. Apps on the Mac interact with other files stored elsewhere in a folder hierarchy. On the iPhone, you only have apps, with files frequently hidden within them and no obvious way to move them around.
Let’s look at a typical iOS file flow and where you can find downloaded images, videos, PDFs, music, apps, and more.
Where can I find iPhone downloads?
Except for photos, there was no place in iOS for storing files that did not belong to any specific app or that could be used by multiple apps at the same time.
With iOS 11, a new Apple-created app called Files attempted to change that. Files display all of the files available on your phone or iCloud, as well as third-party cloud storage. You can transfer files between drives and make new folders. You can also delete files or share them with others. You can even use column view and connect to remote file servers in the iPadOS version.
Downloads can also be viewed on an iPhone in Photos and App Library, in addition to Files. AnyTrans for iOS is highly recommended for transferring files between computers and mobile devices.
AnyTrans for iOS is by far the simplest way to transfer files from your Mac to your iPhone. AnyTrans can also be used to create backups, switch phones, convert photos, make ringtones, mirror screens, and download apps and files. It’s a one-stop shop for simple phone management.
How do I view downloaded files on my iPhone in Files?
Beginning with iOS 11, all default OS installations included a new Files app, which combines files from all apps, as well as third-party clouds and local storage.
If the Files app isn’t available on your iPhone (or iPad), go to the App Store, search for it, and download it for free.
When you open Files, you should see a list of all the locations from which the files are being sourced. You can also manually add new locations (e.g. Box).
Simply select Download from an available iPhone menu to download a file from somewhere into Files.
To find your file in Files, use the search bar at the top or browse the locations manually. Regular files should end up in the Downloads folder in the On My iPhone location.
How can I find image downloads on this device?
When it comes to the Downloads folder, which iPhone has had for a few years now, there is one major exception: photos and videos.
Because the iPhone has always had a powerful image library that is directly connected to the camera, photo retouching, photo albums, and a plethora of third-party apps, Apple decided not to change that structure and instead kept all photos and videos inside the Photos app.
So, if you ever transfer or download photos, you can find all of them in the Photos app on your iPhone.
Furthermore, beginning with iOS 12, all images and videos sent and received via Messages are automatically saved in the Photos app.
How do I find downloaded apps?
When we want to quickly find downloads on iPhone, we don’t just think of files and photos; finding apps can also be difficult.
For years, all iOS apps were stored on your Home Screen. Some users put files into folders that remained on the Home Screen for convenience. However, in iOS 14, Apple introduced App Library, a separate directory for all of your apps.
Swiping left to the last Home Screen will take you to the App Library. While in the App Library, swipe down to see a list of all the apps. You can also use the search bar at the top to find the app you’re looking for.
New apps you download may appear on your Home Screen at times, but they may also appear in the App Library, so make sure to check both when wondering where are downloads on your iPad and iPhone.
What if you can’t find the files you’re looking for in the Downloads?
Now that you know where downloads go on iPhone and how to access downloads on iPhone, you may still find yourself in situations where your files are not where they should be, namely in the Downloads folder.
This is possible because the default file-saving location for Safari on iOS can be changed. In the meantime, you can use the search bar to find your lost documents in Files, but you can also change where the files are saved in the future:
- Navigate to Settings on your phone.
- Tap Safari, then Downloads.
- Select On My Phone or Other, then select the appropriate folder or create a new one (by tapping on the icon in the toolbar)
There are also more options for downloading files than simply saving them in the Downloads folder. You can use Transloader, for example.
Transloader is a useful app for both your Mac and iPhone that allows you to remotely download any file. So you can start a download on your iPhone but have the file downloaded to your Mac. This is ideal when files are too large for your phone or you simply want to use them on Mac in the first place.
It couldn’t be easier to use Transloader — just add the download link to the app and choose where to save it. When your file is saved, you will be notified.
Finally, you can never be certain that your files are completely secure. That is why a solid backup and recovery strategy is essential.
You can do both with Disk Drill. This data recovery app can quickly scan any hard drive or device for lost data and recover it. Disk Drill is useful for recovering accidentally deleted files, corrupt data, and system errors. It also allows you to create disk images for backup, shred files to leave no trace, clean up storage, and do other things.
As you can see, understanding how to access downloads on the iPhone and iPad is simple. You can also improve your workflow by using AnyTrans for iOS to move files, Transloader to download things remotely to your Mac, and Disk Drill to recover lost files and backups.
Best of all, AnyTrans for iOS, Transloader, and Disk Drill is all available for free for seven days via Setapp, a platform with over 230 top-rated Mac and iOS apps that can solve any problem you can think of. Try each Setapp app for free today and improve your daily workflow.