How to Add Folders to Favorites List in Files for iOS

Oct 13, 2017 - 13 Comments

The Favorites list of Files in iOS

The Files app on iPhone and iPad is a bit like a light version of Finder on Mac, offering direct access to files and folders in iOS 11. If you find yourself accessing a particular folder often within Files app, you can make it quicker to access by adding it to your Favorites list. Once an item is added to the Favorite list of iOS Files app, it will be visible in the Favorites section of the app, or the sidebar for iPad users when Files app is in horizontal mode.

You can add a folder to the favorites section of iOS Files app with a tap trick or with drag and drop, we’ll show you how to use both. And of course, we’ll also show you how to remove an item from the Files app Favorites list too.

How to Add Folders to Favorites List in Files for iOS

All iPhone and iPad users can add folders to favorites by using a simple tap trick:

  1. Open the Files app in iOS if you have not done so already
  2. Files app icon in iOS

  3. Locate the folder you want to add to the Favorites list
  4. Tap and hold on the folder and choose “Favorite” when the black menu appears on screen
  5. Choose Favorite to add to favorites list in iOS Files app

  6. Repeat with other folders to favorite as necessary

The folders will appear in the Favorites list in the “Locations” section of the Files app when at the Browse screen, or in the sidebar if you use Files app in horizontal mode on the iPad.

How to Favorite a Folder on Files for iPad with Drag & Drop

The iPad Files app features drag and drop support that is quite similar to the Mac by having the sidebar constantly visible when the device is in horizontal mode.

  1. Place the iPad in horizontal position and open the Files app
  2. Tap and hold on the folder you want to favorite, then drag it into the Files app sidebar under the “Favorites” section, then let go
  3. Drag and drop to Favorites list in iOS Files app

  4. Repeat with other folders to favorite as necessary

The drag and drop approach to adding items to favorites in iOS Files app works just like adding folders to the Favorites sidebar in Finder for Mac OS, so if you’re on an iPad and coming from a Mac background the process should feel similar.

Drag and drop support also works in vertical mode and Files app on iPhone, but you’ll need to tap and hold on the folder with one finger while using another finger to tap on “Locations” and then drop it in the Favorites list from there. It works, but it’s a lot easier to do it in horizontal view on iPad.

How to Remove a Folder from Favorites List in Files for iOS

Removing a folder from the favorites list is easy as well:

  1. Go to the Locations section of the Files app and find the folder you want to remove from the Favorites list
  2. Swipe left on the folder to remove from Favorites and choose “Remove”
  3. Remove folder from Favorites list in iOS Files app

  4. Repeat with other folders to remove from the iOS Files favorites list

Keep in mind you can also just toggle the little “>” arrow button next to the Favorites list to hide the favorites items as well, though that will hide the entire Favorites list rather than remove any of the items in the list.

The new iOS Files app is simple to use while still retaining a good feature set, if you don’t have Files app in iOS it’s probably because you don’t have iOS 11 or later installed on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or perhaps you inadvertently deleted the Files app, in which case you’d either need to update iOS or re-download the Files app again.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Mandatory_Update says:

    Anybody got a screenshot of the Documents folder on the iPad ..

  2. Carol says:

    Update: finally read through to the end of your post: you should have put the last paragraph at the head of the article! It might have saved me some wasted time.

    Jury is still out on my iCloud Drive though.

    I’ll wait and see if the Files app makes any difference to iCloud Drive. I’m not optimistic since I cannot access any iCloud options or settings.

    • Louie says:

      Do note that once you have upgraded to ios 11, and therefore got the files app, you will no longer have the old icloud drive app. Instead, your icloud drive wil now be accessible as one more storage location within the new files app.

  3. Carol says:

    I’ve spent last hour trying to find and get the IOS Files app onto my iPad and iPhone.
    It’s not on any of my devices. Spotlight took me to Files app with icon. The Get option is greyed out. I tap on it and it takes me to Store with Text Edit, Reminders apps etc but no Files app to download.

    On my iCloud Drive app, I have only 5 photos I transferred there [can’t remember how], no Desktop, no sidebar, no menu, no Files or Favorites or anything except the photos I transferred & no Settings or sidebar or Menu or anything – just the one screen with links to photos but no navigation links or options.

    In Settings [iPad & iPhone] I have Cloud Backup [which is working] but no Cloud Drive settings, or preferences, or set up or anything. I tap iCloud Drive in Settings and nothing happens.
    Help! I’m stuck.

  4. Jim says:

    There is no “favourites” on my bar !!

  5. David says:

    Here you show with an Icloud connexion, it will be nice to do the same with Local files, is what i search since the IOS 11 update ! ;-) If this feature work only with Icloud, well this app it is useless

    • Louie says:

      Paul used icloud drive just as an example, but you could do it with locally stored folders too. Those folders would be located in the “on my ipad” section, accesible by tapping its title right below icloud drive in the list on the left side (see the screenshots in the article).

      • Ooken says:

        Unfortunately you can not make your own folders for the “On My iPad” section which makes it pointless if you ask me, only apps can create folders in that section. So you get Pages or something to save there, that’s it. Everything else Apple wants you to pay some monthly fee for iEddyCloud.

        • Louie says:

          Yeah I noticed that. And I guess it explains why many people are not seeing “on my ipad/iphone” in the list of locations. Apparently, for it to show up you have to have installed at least one app that supports local storage, so it will automatically create its folder in “on my ipad/iphone” and enable it. Otherwise, it will be disabled and therefore hidden by default. Typical of Apple. And when they change this, we’ll probably see it touted as a “new” feature at a WWDC keynote.

    • Louie says:

      That was just an example using icloud drive, it doesn’t mean it is the only option. You do have access to local storage from within the files app and it’s called “on my ipad” (or “on my iphone”), which can be seen on the screenshots in case you didn’t notice.

      Other file managing apps such as dropbox or google drive will also be included in the list of storage options within the files app.

      • David says:

        Ok, understand for Icloud & others. On my Iphone i can not be able to see local storage…i am on 11.03…i just buy an IpadPro, i will see this on the Ipad so…but if it’s not possible on the Iphone to have access to local storage ( other app can do i think..) it’s not a good new feature on Iphone…Apple forget often real life is not only based on the cloud’s…i am not using Icloud, i have NAS and personal external server access…

        • Louie says:

          It’s supposed to be the same for iphone and ipad, though some users have indeed reported not seeing “on my iphone” in the list of locations. Just in case, try this as it may enable it: open a photo in your photos app, then tap on the share icon and select “save to files”. You should now see the “on my iphone” in the list of available locations to save to, so try and see if you can save the photo file there. If you can save it, you will then be able to see “on my iphone” every time you open the files app.

          • David says:

            Thank you for your help, i just try your advice with a “Phot” and a “Note”, after touching the share icon i can see the “save to file” an 2 item appear = Icloud and on my Iphone…BUT ! even i touch the “One my Iphone” part, nothing happens and nothing appear in the “Files” app…that seem another bug !

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