This file upgrade is the best feature of iPadOS 18

Powerful iPad users had a disappointing WWDC conference. Although the advanced M4 iPad Pro raises hopes for a major software upgrade, 2024 is not the year for that.

Although the iPad benefits from some powerful new cross-platform features like Apple Intelligence and deep customization tools, the iPad-focused features in iPadOS 18 are the Calculator app and redesigned tab bars.

But there’s another feature coming to the Files app, which solves a big problem on the iPad: the ability to keep downloaded folders and files permanently.

Solving one of the biggest problems with the Files app

For many years, the Files app has offered an iCloud-first approach to file management, and I think that’s a good thing. While you can store files locally on your device, in our cross-platform computing world, it’s helpful to keep everything in iCloud so you can access your data on any device and be sure it’ll still be there even if tragedy strikes your device.

The biggest problem I’ve encountered with this approach relates to file downloads. I keep my files in iCloud, but you’ve long been able to manually download files on demand.

The problem is that Apple “intelligently” decides which files can remain stored in the local cache, and will make decisions to remove certain downloads without telling you. So, when you need to access a particular file — for example, on a plane without a connection — you may find that the file has been sent back to the cloud and is no longer available.

iPadOS 18 changes that.

Files app in iPadOS 18

Not only on iPad but also on iPhone running iOS 18, you can long press on a file or folder and find the new “Continue Download” button in the list.

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That’s right, you can tell iPadOS to keep an entire folder or downloaded file permanently, and never move it to the cloud again.

Real work on your iPad requires reliable access to your files

If you use your iPad occasionally, as a video device or for browsing or light reading, this change probably won’t affect you much.

But if you rely on your iPad to get your work done, this new, unannounced feature could make a big difference in your computing life. I’m surprised Apple didn’t mention this in its very brief iPadOS 18 presentation.

You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your files will be available wherever you are, whatever your network status.

That’s why this change in iPadOS 18 is such a big deal.

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