iPhones are sleek, beautiful, and come with some serious hardware under that hood. However, the operating system, iOS, is not designed with end-user function in mind—at times, it can seem like it’s actually trying to hide things from you. Compared to the relative openness of Android smartphones, it kind of is.
An Android phone will have several ways to access the file tree, but your iPhone does not, preferring a minimalistic user interface to a less intuitive system. But there comes a time when you need to download a PDF, Word document, video, or image file, and it disappears into your phone without a trace. It’s there—you know it’s there—but you can’t find it. Here are some ways that you can track down that presentation, meme, or photo.
Use the Photos App
To make things simpler for itself, the iPhone has different folders for different types of files and keeps all your photos in one file, away from other types of files. It does this for a couple of reasons – one for organization and another for security – although the fact that Apple devices can’t get viruses is actually a myth, according to cybertalk.org. So the first thing to try is to open the photos app to find your photos. Click on the bottom menu and tap “Library”. Check first to see if your photos are here, among the recently downloaded photos. If they are, you’ll be able to view and share them as normal.
However, if you don’t see them, tap the “All photos” option so that you can see every photo in the “photos” file folder. You’ll be able to scroll through the images to find recently downloaded files. If you can see them, you will be able to view and share the downloaded files as you wish (you can even click on “details” to discover the folder location of the files on your phone). You’ll be able to send them via email or open them with another app, such as a photo editor or compositor.
…But chances are, you already tried this, and it didn’t work! Try these other solutions:
Use The Files App
Another way to find the location of downloaded files or photos is in one of those other folders mentioned already. Open the “Files” app on your iPhone. With this, you’ll be able to find dedicated folders for the applications (apps) that your phone runs. To find your recently downloaded photo, tap on the folder of the app you were using to view or download the file. It’s possible that the file is in there.
Please note, that if you are downloading files with a browser, you can usually use the “save to” feature, which allows you to select the location that your file will download.
Use Your Browser
You still may not be able to find your downloaded files in the “Files” app, so now it is time to try something different. Click on the menu in your Safari browser. Then tap on the “downloads” folder of the browser. Here, you will be able to see all the recent downloads and be able to open them.
If you’re using a non-Apple browser, the method might be a little different, but not a lot. Most browsers will want to help you find the files you download through them.
The Spotlight app is a way that you can search for a specific file on your phone, but the catch is that you need to know the file’s exact name. If you do, that’s great! Just open Spotlight, copy and paste or write the name it into the search field, and let the app go to work. If all is well, then it’ll locate the file very quickly.
Use The iCloud
If all this fails, search for the file in the “Downloads” folder of your iCloud Drive. Your iPhone may have sent your download there, thinking it was being helpful, or you may have done it to save on memory and forgotten that you did so.