Apple Files vs Documents by Readdle: Which App Excels at File Management

With every interaction of iOS, Apple has opened several aspects of software for third-party apps. For years, the Apple loyalists have asked for a proper file management app in iOS. It was especially painful for those coming from the Android ecosystem, which has excellent file management coupled with superior alternatives in the Play Store.

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Last year, the Cupertino-based company finally added file management with a separate Files app in iOS 12.

As with any Apple app, the Files app is a minimal effort with fewer functionalities out of the box. Thankfully, we have some alternatives to choose from the App Store.

Documents by Readdle is such an application with several file management functions and more. And in this post, we are going to compare it against the default Apple Files app on various parameters.

App Size

Apple Files is a default app which is a part of the total iOS package that takes about 14GB of storage. Documents by Readdle consumes about 148MB of space and the app is currently sitting at an average rating of 4.7, which is nice.

User Interface

Apple keeps the interface and navigation quite similar to its native apps. The Files app uses the bottom bar with only two options – Recents and Browse.

The default screen showcases Location, Favourites, and Tags. You can view, add, and edit the storage options such as iPhone files, iCloud data, and other third-party cloud storage such as OneDrive and Google Drive.

Files Ui
Files Recent

The Favourite tab keeps track of all the most used files. One can also apply color tags or priority tags under the Tags section. The search bar is located at the top.

Things are quite the opposite on the Documents app. The interface is quite busy with five tabs at the bottom and the settings menu at the upper-left corner.

Documetns Ui
Documnets Cloud

The default screen shows the device folders of the phone. You can add the cloud storage options from the second Services tab.

The Starred tab works the same as the Favourite section in the Files app. Documents also come with a built-in browser with VPN and multi-tab functionality (more on that later).


As it comes with any file management app, both the apps shine at performing the basic tasks.

Files automatically detect the third-party cloud storage as well as other device folders and show them right under the location page. For example, when I installed Documents on the phone, the folder appeared in Files app.

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You can switch on the following folders and rearrange them according to your liking.

Also, you can rename, move, copy, add tags, and add new folders. Unfortunately, the ability to zip/unzip functionality is missing from the Files app.

On a side note, if you are using a third-party cloud storage app with native password protection employed, then you won’t be able to access the files from the app.

Documents have two tabs separated for both device folders and cloud services. Unlike Files app, you can see the photos albums in the app.

Photos Album
Zip Un Zip

The basic functionalities remain the same as the Files app. You can also zip/unzip files from the Documents app.

The app also comes bearing a default browser which lets you download videos, use VPN function, and have reader mode and multi-tab functionality.


One can also password-protect the app with the Face ID option in the Settings menu.

Documents also let you annotate PDF files with an add-on available in the default store.


One of the advantages of using the Files app is the widget support. You can add a ‘Files’ widget in Today’s Feed menu to show the recent files from the device.

My Feed

Files app detects the third-party cloud services inside the app, so need to manually add them, unlike the Documents app.

As you can see from the above features list, Documents app offers way more functionalities than the Files app. One such addition is the file transfer function.

File Trasfer

It’s similar to what we find on apps like SHAREitand Xender. Head to and scan the QR code from the mobile app. Both devices must be connected to the same network for the transfer process.

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Documents also gets frequent updates. Files by Apple only is reliant on annual iOS update.

Get Organization in Place

As you can see from the above comparison, the Files app by Apple still has a lot of ground to cover against the well-established Documents app. However, not everyone wants to edit a PDF, or transfer files over Wi-Fi on a daily basis. That’s why, the default Files app is perfectly suitable for those individuals. Let’s just hope Apple adds more functions to Files app in iOS 13.

Next up: Solid Explorer and FX Explorer are capable and highly popular file managers. Read the post below to find out which app should be your go-to choice on Android.

Last updated on 03 February, 2022

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