There’s a lot of times that Apple seems to make things difficult for no reason. One of those being how closed their ecosystem can be. A great example has always been connecting a USB drive to your iPad or iPhone. It will work for photos and videos, but not for files. Usually, if you want to that. you will need to either have files emailed to you or somehow uploaded through a PC or Mac onto your iCloud. At that point you can navigate to the Files App to find them. It’s cumbersome and very inconvenient.
Apple sells a dongle that you can connect. But, Apple’s adapter makes no promises that it can’t keep. They assure you clearly understand it’s for Cameras in order to discourage anyone from buying it assuming they can transfer it anything else than “photos and videos“. Although you can actually connect accessories like USB keyboards that are supported.
This is What You Need
Fortunately, a really easy to use app called File Browser for Business is available and it is specifically designed to work with a Sandisk iXpand USB drive that includes a built in Lightning adapter. There are other versions for you to try, but the Business version is the one you want as it has a built-in compatibility specifically for the iXpand drive. This will let you view and copy files to your iDevice.
A USB drive with a lightning and USB connector is not a new idea by any stretch but this one is different. Thanks to this unique setup, you will have the ability to bring in files to and from your iPhone or iPad with ease. So that means no complicated workarounds or hacks.
The developer has done a great job and it has created a ton of features. Aside from fulfilling your USB dreams, it can import and interconnect you to just about everything out there.
How To Connect the USB Drive
This app has a ton going on, but you are here to do one thing and that is to connect a USB drive so you can access files. So this is what I am going to show you how to do. The great thing about this USB drive and App, is that they are designed to work together and they integrate with the File App, so you don’t even need to bumble between one app and another to make this work.
When you plug in the drive….. nothing happens. This is actually good. You don’t automatically see the photos and videos import.
You will then head to your Files App. Remember, it saves your last location, so you may need to hit “Browse” to see the following screen. There you fill find the locations to browse from. At this point you go to “On My iPad” (or iPhone) and then look for the orange “FB”folder. When you tap it, you will run into the iXpand drive.
Although you can go to “On My iPad” to find the folder in the example above, you can hit “Edit” on the top by the word ‘Browse”, and tab the slider next to FileBrowser to have it come up every time. See below for this example:
There you will be able to access anything that is on the drive right from the Browse section. It will work like any other folder in your iCloud. You can open open files. However you cannot edit, modify or delete them from here.
How to Copy Files
You also might not want to have the drive always connected. So you will want to copy the files inside. You can do this, but it’s not as easy as drag and drop. Top copy a file to your device from the USB drive just takes one little extra step that won’t involve too much. But still, it’s not entirely convenient.
First, you select the files that you want to move. You can’t do it with folders, but you can select multiple files. Now you hit “Share”. From there you tap “Send to Files”. (But aren’t you in files? Yes, you are but you know.. Apple).
Select “iCloud Drive” from the list of options, which will vary depending on how many apps you have.
Pick your location, and there you have it. You have now copied (shared) the files off a USB drive to you iPad or iPhone!
Note: Keep in mind you can’t edit or delete from the drive folder itself in the native Files app. You can only copy and read only. To delete files you need to go to the FileBrowser app and then delete from there.
Will there ever be a time that you don’t have to download apps or you special hardware just to be able to use an external device? We expect the next couple of years that change will come. But for now this is the best option you have and it works extremely well.
The starting price for the iXpand drive will run you $30.00 and the App is $10.95. But this will be worth the price of admission.