How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone & iPad

Feb 24, 2021 - 11 Comments

How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone

Do you want to access specific files and folders on your Windows computer right from your iPhone or iPad? Thanks to the built-in Files app, it’s fairly simple and straightforward to connect to SMB file servers which includes shared Windows folders on a network.

This feature was added to the Files app in modern iOS and iPadOS releases, so if you’re running a version older than 13 you won’t find this option available on your device. Aside from that, you can take advantage of it as long as you’re sharing folders from your Windows computer on a local network. This makes it a whole lot easier to access files that are stored on your computer without fiddling around and installing third-party apps on to your device.

Read on to learn how you can access shared folders from Windows directly on an iPhone or iPad.

How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone & iPad

If you don’t have any shared folders on your Windows PC, you’ll need to turn on sharing for a folder of your choice by right-clicking on the folder -> Properties -> Sharing. Also, you’ll need to obtain your computer’s local server IP address, username and password. If you’re unsure of your server address, open Command Prompt on your computer, type “ipconfig” and note down the line that reads “IPv4 Address”.

  1. Open the built-in Files app on your iPhone or iPad.

    Files app icon on iPhone and iPad

  2. In the Browse menu, tap on the “triple-dot” icon located at the top-right corner of your screen.

    How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone
  3. Now, tap on “Connect to Server”.

    How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone
  4. Next, type in your local server address that you obtained from Command Prompt. Tap on “Connect”.

    How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone
  5. Here, select “Registered User” and enter the local username and password for your computer. Once you’re done, tap “Next”.

    How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone
  6. This will establish the connection and you’ll be able to view all the shared folders on your computer. Tap on any of the folders to view its files and other contents.

    How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone
  7. If you have the necessary permissions for a folder, you’ll be able to move, rename and delete files from the shared folder. To do this, simply long-press on any of the files as shown below.

    How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone
  8. If you want to disconnect from your computer at any time, tap on the “eject” icon located right next to your computer’s local server address in the Browse menu.

    How to Access Windows Shared Folders from iPhone

That’s pretty much all you need to do. Now you know how to access shared folders on your Windows PC, right from your iPhone or iPad.


It’s worth mentioning that while SMB is typically associated with Windows shares, many other devices also use SMB for compatibility, and you’ll also be able to connect to SMB shares from other devices in the same way aside from Windows, including Linux, Mac, Android, and many other networked devices.

If you’re unable to connect to your computer, make sure that your iOS or iPadOS device is connected to the same local Wi-Fi network as your PC. This server connection feature is made possible with SMB protocol, which stands for Server Message Block. It allows your computer to share files and printers with different devices on a network.

Until iOS and iPadOS 13 came out, iPhone and iPad owners had to resort to third-party file manager apps from the App Store to take advantage of SMB server connectivity. Now that this feature is baked into the stock Files app, there’s no need to install additional third-party apps anymore to use SMb shares.

If you own a Mac or if your computer runs Linux, don’t feel left out. You can still connect to SMB shares from iPhone & iPad with Files app in a very similar way. This feature eliminates the need to manually transfer files from a computer to your iOS device and help save a lot of storage space. And if you’re on a Mac, you can also share files between a Mac and PC by using sharing in Finder.

Did you successfully connect to your Windows computer to access its shared folders from your iPhone and iPad? If not, what issues are you facing? What are your thoughts on this handy feature that’s built into the Files app? Let us know your experiences and thoughts run the comments.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

11 Comments

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  1. Victoria says:

    I’m struck with the part with username and password. I’m 100% sure that I’ve put in correct info, but there’s always a bug report of “invalid username and password”:( could someone maybe kindly help?

  2. MtheK says:

    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
    FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT!
    Do a similar procedure as I do for copying a file from the iPad to my SD card;
    in the Files app, drag the file from ‘On My iPad’ to the Windows laptop:
    . ensure the Files app is NOT open; if so, CLOSE THEM ALL !!!
    . open the Files app:
    . in the left pane:
    . click on ‘On My iPad’ to see the file to copy
    . drag the desired file to the Shared IP address, on the left side,
    to get a ‘files’ vertical rectangle
    . click ‘done’ (top left)
    . click ‘files’ (top left)
    . click on the Shared IP address arrow on the right
    . this shows the shared folders
    . in the right pane:
    . drag the desired file to the desired folder in the left pane
    . check to ensure that it is on the Windows laptop
    . open it to make sure it is correct
    WARNING: THIS CAN ONLY BE DONE ONCE(!!!) PER iPad RE-IPL (re-boot), else get:
    . replace existing item (even if it was already deleted on Windows!?)
    . w/replace, get error ‘(OSStatus error -48.)’ ???!!!
    . IF NOT THERE:
    . close/re-open Explorer
    . copy to another folder !!!
    . may have to open the folder to get a sub-folder (in the left pane)

    ALL THIS IS QUITE FRUSTRATING !!! Must be a MANUAL procedure, and apparently can’t be done from the Windows side via, say, a .BAT ???!!!
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

  3. MtheK says:

    FYI…

    I manually assigned an IP address to my iPad.

    I can successfully ping it from my Windows laptop:
    Pinging 192.168.1.5 with 32 bytes of data:
    Reply from 192.168.1.5: bytes=32 time=2ms TTL=64
    NETMON also shows the success:
    80 5:29:14 AM 4/18/2022 05:29:14.7991067
    (192.168.1.4 – 192.168.1.5) ConvID = 63 (1428) ICMP 0x2
    192.168.1.4 192.168.1.5 ICMP:Echo Request Message,
    From 192.168.1.4 To 192.168.1.5
    81 5:29:14 AM 4/18/2022 05:29:14.7999028
    (192.168.1.4 – 192.168.1.5) ConvID = 63 (3680) ICMP 0x1
    192.168.1.5 192.168.1.4 ICMP:Echo Reply Message,
    From 192.168.1.5 To 192.168.1.4

    However, I can’t do a ‘copy’ from the iPad to Windows:
    copy /B “\\192.168.1.5\On My iPad\files.txt” c:\temp
    but I’m not sure if this syntax is correct for an iPad.
    A similar ‘copy’ between 2 Windows laptops is successful.

    Interesting that my router (the intermediary), under
    ‘attached devices’, shows the iPad’s IP address, but the
    name (SSID) is BLANK!?

    This problem seems similar to, when, between 2 Windows
    machines, the target has ‘network sharing’ turned OFF,
    so the receiver can’t see the target’s files.

    Does the iPad have something similar? Is ‘network sharing’ turned OFF by default? I can’t find anything anywhere that controls this…

  4. astro2 says:

    doesn’t work, or this is ios/mac only
    i know im doing it right because when downloading file browsers in the appstore allowing you to choose windows options it works, but these want you to pay to keep full access

    lame, on android these browsers are free

    • Paul says:

      Using the directions as provided, you can connect to and access Windows Shares from your iPhone or iPad.

      The Files app is part of iOS and iPadOS, it is free and bundled with the iPhone and iPad.

      You are definitely not doing something right, because the app is free from Apple, and already on your iPhone or iPad. You do not need to use the App Store.

  5. MtheK says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS DOC! I hooked up everything physically, but didn’t know how to get access. Your doc explained it very well.

    The first problem I had was that the USERNAME is CASE-SENSITIVE! It took me awhile to figure that out! When I did so, I got access!

    It DOES work, but only 1-way? That is, the iPad can access my Windows laptops. I can see all my shared folders (as my Windows laptops can see them to each other), and opening .txt and .jpg files work. However, I can’t figure out how to access the iPad files from the Windows laptops. Neither Win7 nor Win10 sees the iPad (in Explorer, under Network on the left), as my Windows laptops see each other.

    Obviously the connection must exist, since the iPad can access their files. So how can I get the Windows laptops to access the iPad?

    I think, based on Event logs, that the network name of the iPad is MOBILE (but not sure):

    Log Name: Security
    Source: Microsoft-Windows-Security-Auditing
    Event ID: 4624
    Network Information:
    Workstation Name: MOBILE

    My iPad is 9th gen w/IPADOS15.

    Comments? Thankx…

  6. em says:

    Can your phone be on wifi and your PC be on ethernet, and still access the folder? Or do your PC and phone have to be on the same type of connection? In both circumstances they are all on the same network, but connected via different network cards. Hope that makes sense.

  7. Jorge says:

    This is so cool!!! I used Whatsapp or One Drive as an intermediary to transfer to my phone! So efficient now with this solution.

    BIG THANK YOU!!!

  8. steve says:

    You entered an invalid username or password for the server error despite being able to logon to windows with those credentials.

  9. Hrz says:

    Hi,

    This one is a good one!.

    Thanks.

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