Home How Tos How to Activate and Use iCloud Drive on Your iPhone or iPad

How to Activate and Use iCloud Drive on Your iPhone or iPad


icloud_drive_scanner_pro_heroApple’s iCloud Drive automatically works in the background on an iPhone or iPad. iOS 9 makes iCloud very easy to use, providing a new iCloud Drive app that gives you access to browse, view, and manage all the files stored in iCloud Drive.

You can normally access iCloud Drive in Finder on a Mac, via iCloud for Windows, or on icloud.com. You can now access your iCloud files in the same way on an iPhone or iPad.

Enable iCloud Drive

iOS 9 for iPhone and iPad includes an “iCloud Drive” app which lets you browse files stored in Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or other cloud storage services.

However, this is different from every other included iOS app. You have to enable it from the Settings app before it appears because it is always hidden.

To do this, open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, tap the “iCloud” category, and tap “iCloud Drive.” Enable the “Show on Home Screen” option. An iCloud Drive icon will appear on your home screen and you can launch this app like any other.


Viewing and Managing Files

If you are a user of Dropbox or something similar, you’ll be right at home with the iCloud Drive app. You’ll also be right at home with it if you’ve used iCloud Drive on Mac OS X, Windows, or the web.

Tap files to view, move, delete, or share them. You can also tap “Select” to select multiple files at once, and use the Delete or Move buttons to delete the files or move them to other folders where you would like to keep your files. There’s also a Share button, which will allow you to share those files to other apps, print them, send them to other people via AirDrop, or perform other actions using the system share sheet. Pull down from the top of the screen to sort files by date, name, or tag, or change the view.

You’ll also see how much available storage space you have left available in iCloud at the bottom of the screen.


Editing Files

You can’t actually edit any files from within iCloud Drive. To edit files, you could potentially open them in iCloud Drive, tap the “Share” button, and then tap the app you want to export the file to. But this isn’t how to open those files normally, and it may create another copy.

To edit a file with its associated app, you might just want to load that app first. For example, you can’t just open the iCloud Drive app, tap the Pages folder, and tap a file you want to edit it in the Pages app. This just takes you to a view-only mode in the iCloud Drive app. You’d need to open the Pages app and then open the document from within it.


What’s Missing

Apple’s iCloud Drive app is simple. It doesn’t do a lot, it doesn’t even let you directly open files for editing in Pages, Numbers, and Keynotes like the Google Drive app lets you open documents in the associated Google Docs apps.

However, this app does provide you with a central location to view all your iCloud Drive files, manage them, and share them with other apps and people. Apple still has a lot of work to do to meet up with other cloud storage services. For example, restoring deleted files still requires visiting the iCloud website.

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