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Using External Storage on iPad & iPhone

One of the greatest things about iOS 13 is you can use external storage! External hard drives, USB Thumb Drives, and even Networked Data!

Turns out there was a reason for moving to the USB C connector!

External Storage Moves iPad Closer To The Laptop Replacement

I realized something this week, after griping about Apple charging so much for there MacBook Pro laptops, there really wasn’t a Apple consumer laptop available… then with release of iPadOS it became clear; Apple wants consumers using iPads instead of a laptops. In all honesty, it’s something I’ve been recommending for years to many non-pro users. But, the iPad did still lacks some features that made a laptops easier to use for certain tasks.

One of the things that really helped though is the ability to plug in an external USB drive to transfer files to and from your iPad. With iOS 13, you can directly plug in a compatible drive, it just has to be USB C, or have a lighting connector. If the drive you want to use doesn’t have one of those connectors, you can get an adapter from Apple, the worlds leading innovator of dangles, connectors and adapters. The basic lighting to USB adapter works, but this is a good and more capable adapter.

One you have the required hardware, and you’ve plugged stuff in, you’re golden! Now, off to the new and improved Files app!

external storage

Working much like the Finder in MacOS X, the Files app lets you browse the external media like you would on a desktop, giving you the ability to view a lot of file types, and at the very least, save the file to the iPad or iPhone. With iOS 13, you can open two instances of an app, letting you drag and drop like you would on a desktop, just open another instance of the Files app in Side Over or Split View. Clicking the three dots brings up the basic file options such as tag, share, copy, duplicate, delete, rename files and choose the Save To Files option to copy it to your device.

External Storage options

You should be able to open any Ex-FAT, FAT-32, HSF+, and APFS formate media. And furthermore, you can connect to SMB Network drives, just click on the 3 dots and select Connect To Server.

Results May Vary

Some limitations exists, for instance it appears iPhones aren’t able to open as large a drive as the iPad Pro line. If you have a smaller 2.5′, USB powered drive, you may need to use a Powered USB Hub to provide enough juice to get things going. Even though most drive formats are supported, it doesn’t appear that NTFS drives are supposed at this time.

Overall though, this adds a LOT of power to the iPad, inching it ever closer to be a full fledged replacement for our missing budget MacBook.

Contact Us if you have any questions regarding using external storage in iOS 13!

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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
Ryszard Gold
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