From Bad to Worse

22 09 2017

Apple’s app FILES not worth to use it

Add third-party apps to let FILES access my cloud providers? What a strange idea. I can’t define access to cloud storages or computers by entering my credentials. Also not supported is WebDAV.


In 1995, Microsoft first released „NewShell“ which replaced the Windows 3 file manager with Windows Explorer. Believe me, this early version of Windows Explorer was better than Apple’s app FILES in 2017.

I use the apps Documents, File Browser, and File Explorer and they all do their job much better than Apple’s embryonic FILES app. Again I see a totally unfinished product.

Although file management was always a problem in iOS because it generates a crazy amount of redundant files when using the ‚Open in‘ command, nothing changed with iOS 11. Do we have to wait another decade?

I still can’t access files in the DOCUMENTS directory of other apps or, as an alternative, in a publicly available directory.

File management in FILES is driving me crazy. Lots of missing features and lots of bugs. Have a look at my image. No chance to remove this folder which caused an error during the creation process.

Apple tells us about its iOS file system

Every app is an island.

During installation of a new app, the installer code creates a home directory for the app, places the app in that directory ( /AppName .app) and creates several other key directories. These directories constitute *the app’s primary view of the file system and represents the universe for that app*. It contains everything the app can access directly. The problem is that there is no directory which could be shared with other apps.

More about
a secure but not user-friendly file system

Every app is an iLand

Apple Support: Files

Thanks for 💧ping by.

Out of memory

1 03 2013

If your iOS-Device is beginning to run out of memory it’s time to look for files, their sizes, and their locations. And it’s time to clean up the mess.

Can I upgrade the memory of my device?

That might be your first question when your device is beginning to get less and less free space.
The answer is, no. The memory of an iOS device is fixed to that value you once had when you purchased your iPhone or iPad.

Where can I see the the memory usage?

Go to Settings – General – Usage.

The image is taken from an iPad 3 with 64 GB.


What you see is that the sum of Available and Used is 57,2 GB. The difference to 64 GB is 6.8 GB and used for the operating system. On an iPhone you will get a slightly different value of 6.6 GB for iOS.

What you also can see is the space used by the installed apps. If you tap on a non built-in app the App Size is and the size of it’s data are displayed.

The used space is displayed in a descending order. This enables you to quickly identify the apps which are on the heavy side.

On most of the devices running out of memory the total size of movies, music, podcasts and (with reservations) photos are responsible for the problem.

Type of Media Mean Size MB
Photo 1.3
Song 7.6
Video 1m 25.1

(These values have been calculated as mean values on an iPhone with 197 songs, 430 photos, and 17 videos.)

What you can see is that the problem usually does not come up with photos. 800 photos would use 1 GB unless your device is an 8 GB version.

Disadvantage of the iOS filesystem …

There is a disadvantage in the concept of the iOS filesystem often not taken into account.

Specific folders are assigned for each app on your device. An app only can work with these folders and not with folders of another app. This is what Apple calls ‘The sandbox mode‘ and it’s designed for security reasons. An iOS app’s interactions with the filesystem are limited mostly to the directories within the app’s sandbox. Because it is in a sandbox an app is generally prohibited from accessing or creating files outside its home directory.

That’s why Apple implemented a functionality called ‘Open in’ to enable transferring a file from one app to another.


If you use ‘Open in’ frequently it may take a lot of space and, what should always be avoided, there are redundant copies of files. After a short time you won’t know where to find the original version. But this is only the case if you use many apps which in general provide the same features.

Refer to my blogs

Every app is an iLand

iTunes and File Sharing

for basics of the iOS filesystem.

Intermediate result …

Frequently cleaning up your device in total saves time.
If you make an extensive use of the ‘Open in’ command delete the transferred files either at source or final destination, that means in the local folder of the source or the finally used app.
I recommend to do so anyway regardless of whether there is a low memory problem or not.

Keep in mind that iOS provides no ‘Finder’ respectively ‘Explorer’ to perform a full-text-search on your device to find out where the required file is located.

My personal opinion …
You remember a famous dictum of Steve Jobs?
It just works. Agree, but the user has to fire on all cylinders as well.

Suggestions for the come-back of memory …


Go to Settings – General – Usage.
Tap on apps you do not need any longer and then tap on Delete App.
Keep in mind that whenever you delete an app the related data are deleted too. They only cam be restored from external copies (iTunes, cloud storage, hard drive, USB).


Open frequently used apps and delete unwanted files stored in the app specific folders (folder for documents and folder for images).


Transfer rarely used files to a cloud storage e.g. iDriveSync or Dropbox or a local hard drive via iTunes File Sharing.


Take your time to delete apps from your device.
Nobody needs 50 or more apps, except bloggers who check them all for you.

You might say I need them all because none is fully developed and meets my requirements.
Agree. iPad is ready but at the time the software is still a bit embryonic. So update all apps on your device and read the update feature description of apps you use. Some apps have got important extensions to their feature list so that other apps may be obsolete.


Apple’s apps iBooks, iTunes U, and Podcasts are space consuming apps.
Delete media you don’t need any longer. If you need some of them again later you can download them again. You don’t have to pay another time for as Apple manages your list of apps and media and allows repeated downloads as often as you like.

Files overview …

To het an overview of files on an iOS device I used the demo version of iExplorer by Macroplant with some limitations. After installing the application on a Windows PC or a Mac and connecting your iOS device to your computer via USB it allows you to access the app specific folders on the iPad or iPhone. You can use this app to delete files on your device that are no longer needed.


Thanks for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed it.
If so I would appreciate your comment or share with your friends.
That’s the blogger’s food.

Bridge the gulf, Apple

1 12 2012

There are some documents provided by Apple presenting cases of business applications on the iPad, e.g.

iPad @ work
iPad @ work Volume 2

These e-Books give an overview how iPad features and apps allow you to streamline common daily business tasks.

That’s the theory.
Lets take a look at the reality.

Consider the following scenario …

You have to provide an iWork-Document (created with Apple’s iWork-Apps Numbers, Keynote or Pages) on different cloud storages (with recommended complex passwords), e.g. two Numbers-documents containing data worth being protected.

As a normal user with basic knowledge there are some questions which have to be answered:

  • What is a secure way to transfer data?
  • Which cloud provider guarantees a secure storage?
  • Do I need additional apps to work efficiently?
  • Are the additional apps stable?
  • Is there a fast and understandable support if errors occur?
  • Which apps should I buy to improve the usage of the device?

Generally you have 3 features which allow you to move documents:

  • Send by E-Mail
  • Open in another app
  • Save to WebDAV

Using ‘Send by E-Mail’ …

Apple’s NUMBERS does not support sending more than one document to a recipient.

Apple’s Mail does not support access to iWork-Documents to send them as attachments. Only photos and videos can be inserted.

Apple’s Mail does not support E-Mail distribution lists.

So for easy distribution of documents via E-Mail you will need an additional app.
But is it possible to use the ‘Open in another app’-Feature of iWork to provide the helper app with the required documents?
Does the app support IMAP-Accounts? If it does you have one more E-Mail-Client installed on your device.
If it does not, you will not see what you sent in your other E-Mail-Client.

Using ‘Save to WebDAV’ …

iWork supports only one connection to a WebDAV-Server. Changing the server from time to time requires the knowledge of the address and the password which might be complex so that you have to look it up in your Password-App.

(The app ‘Documents To Go’ from DataViz, Inc. allows access to 4 preconfigured servers.)

Summary …

There are many features not supported by iOS or standard apps of Apple.
So it will take a long time until you have found out the right apps for your specific requirements.
You will need additional time to find out which app fits best to to do your work.

Bridge the gulf, Apple
and take frequently used workflows into account when updating iOS and the iWork-Suite. There are still to many stumbling stones.

And …

Is it an advantage to offer more than 600.000 apps? No it is not, except I have the option to first look within a limited time whether an app meets my requirements or not.

The security of iOS, the iOS-Filesystem and the usability of the File-Management
are not well-balanced so far.

Every App is an “iLand”

11 10 2012

If you create a document (e.g. with Apple’s Keynote) or receive one via E-Mail you possibly want to further work with it in another app. In Apple’s filesystem this is not possible by default.Interactions of an iOS app are limited mostly to the folders associated with it. This limitation is labeled Sandbox-Mode and was designed to increase the security of the filesystem. Unfortunately it also decreases the usability in many cases.

Note …
One exception to this rule occurs when an app uses public system interfaces to access things such as the user’s contacts or music. In those cases, the system frameworks handle any file-related operations needed to read from or modify the appropriate data stores.

Although usability is decreased Apple continues it’s file system implementation until today.


During installation of a new app, the installer code creates a home directory for the app, places the app in that directory ( /AppName .app) and creates several other key directories. These directories constitute the app’s primary view of the file system and represents the universe for that app and contains everything the app can access directly.

Further directories in the iOS file system …

  • /Documents/
    Developers should use this directory to store critical user documents and app data files. Critical data is any data that cannot be recreated by your app, such as user-generated content.
    The contents of this directory can be made available to the user through file sharing. The contents of this directory are backed up by iTunes.
  • /Documents/Inbox
    Developers should use this directory to access files that your app was asked to open by outside entities. Specifically, the Mail program places email attachments associated with your app in this directory; document interaction controllers may also place files in it.
    Your app can read and delete files in this directory but cannot create new files or write to existing files. If the user tries to edit a file in this directory, your app must silently move it out of the directory before making any changes.
    The contents of this directory are backed up by iTunes.
  • /Library/
    This directory is the top-level directory for files that are not user data files. You typically put files in one of several standard subdirectories but you can also create custom subdirectories for files you want backed up but not exposed to the user. You should not use this directory for user data files.
    The contents of this directory (with the exception of the Caches subdirectory) are backed up by iTunes.
  • /tmp/
    Developers should use this directory to write temporary files that do not need to persist between launches of your app. Your app should remove files from this directory when it determines they are no longer needed. (The system may also purge lingering files from this directory when your app is not running.) In iOS 2.1 and later, the contents of this directory are not backed up by iTunes.

See the folder structure of an iOS device revealed with the app iExplorer.


So … Every app is an iLand island!

But don’t worry. There is a functionality which will reassure you.

It’s called ‘Open in…‘ and looks like this


The example shows a website opened in Safari which was converted into a PDF file by using a small piece of code entered in the address bar of Safari.

Another (well-known) application is tapping on an attachment within an E-Mail (e. g. a PDF-Document). The ‘Open in…’-Dialog comes up and you can select an appropriate app for further viewing or editing e.g. Documents by Readdle.

Don’t forget:

Every app is an iLand island!
‘Open in…’ forwards your document to Adobe-Island without deleting it on E-Mail-Island. So now you have two redundant copies of the PDF file.

What You have to do is:

Take care of your devices memory.

Security …

Locking up an app in it’s app specific folder and limiting it’s access to it’s folder and subfolders brings security to iOS devices. This is called the Sandbox Mode.
So security of an iOS device is given by design.

Additionally Apple screens all apps offered in their App Store whether the code contains procedures compromising the device’s security. The security can be affected by the services the app has permission to. The actual versions of iOS asks for permissions to access location services, contacts, camera roll, etc. for every app which is installed on the device and opened for the first time.

This stats published by MyAppleNews Blogspot shows the consequences of Apple’s design concept for it’s operating system.


MyAppleNews Blogspot

Pros and cons …

From a technical point of view, there are a number of benefits that come up with this approach.

  • Each app is directly responsible for managing its own content; this gives developers a high degree of control over things like e.g. deciding which data should be cached, backed up, and synchronized to iCloud, minimizing the app’s storage footprint.
  • The sandbox mode limits the impact that it has on the overall file system. In a traditional environment, software tends to leave all sorts of unwanted digital clutter in various folders on a hard drive, and data like preferences, shared frameworks, and even app components have a bad habit of lingering long after the user has decided to remove the app. With everything neatly jailed in its own container in iOS, getting rid of an app means getting rid of all clutter it created (and all noteworthy documents!).Note
    You can avoid data loss by regularly saving relevant data via iTunes file sharing.
    Alternatively use a secure cloud storage like iDriveSync to save documents.

Apple’s file system doesn’t reflect the way people work on projects.

Useful information you want to combine in an article on your website might be spread over many app specific folders of your device.
To collect them all and further keep them together can escalate to a troublesome even annoying procedure.
Usually there are lots of apps installed on an iOS device because of all the flaws coming up with one app and compensated by an additionally installed app.

Creating projects cannot be done by thinking on islands. For presenting comprehensive information you need a boat and have to visit all the other islands of interest.

My suggestion for iOS 7 was to allow apps saving some file types in a PUBLIC folder with access from other apps. The limitation to solely access the photo library is insufficient. Sad to say that Apple didn’t go this way in iOS 7.

Related links …

Out of memory

Mobile malware

I reworked this article on August 22, 2013.

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