iCloud Drive

Image: Cory Bohon

Many users need a fast, reliable way to synchronize files between their iOS and OS X devices. With iOS 9, Apple included a new app called iCloud Drive that lets you peruse files synced with the service, open them on your iOS devices, and even attach them to emails without being near your Mac. Let’s take a look at how you can easily do all of this and more.

How to enable the iCloud Drive app

The iCloud Drive app is available on all iOS 9 devices that are connected to an iCloud account. To enable this app (which is hidden by default), perform these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Navigate to iCloud | iCloud Drive
  3. Enable the option for Show on Home Screen (Figure A)

Figure A

Figure A

Figure A

Image: Cory Bohon

Enable the iCloud Drive app to show it on the home screen.

When you enable this, the new app will appear on your home screen.

Browse and open files in the iCloud Drive app

When you want to browse files, open the iCloud Drive app. It will always be up to date with the current files stored in your iCloud Drive account. Here, you can peruse the folder structure and the files contained in each folder (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Figure B

Image: Cory Bohon

The folders and files in the iCloud Drive app will mirror what’s on your other iCloud-enabled devices.

When you find a file that you wish to open, tap it. A preview will open, and the file will start downloading locally to your device (Figure C). When you wish to open the file to edit it in an app, click the Share button. Compatible apps that can open the file will be displayed, so simply tap the one you want.

Figure C

Figure C

Figure C

Image: Cory Bohon

You can delete or move the file by tapping on the trash can or folder icon.

Attaching files from the iCloud Drive app

When you wish to share a file via email, you can do so right from within the new email compose flow. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Mail app
  2. Start a new email or start a reply to an existing message
  3. Tap once in the new message body to make the context menu appear
  4. Select Add Attachment (Figure D)
  5. In the file browser that appears, you should see the iCloud Drive contents; if not, select Locations | iCloud Drive

Figure D

Figure D

Figure D

Image: Cory Bohon

Add Attachment opens the new attachment selector interface available in iOS 9.

Once you select a file in the file browser, the file will be downloaded from iCloud Drive and attached to the email that you’re sending.

How do you move files from iOS to OS X? Share your method in the discussion thread below.

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Pro tip: How to use the iCloud Drive app to attach files to emails