Using Files app to work on documents stored in other apps and cloud storages
This article concerns the
iOS
app.

Files app

Files app is a standard iOS app that comes with each iOS device. It carries the following icon,

ios/file-browser/Files_App_icon_iOS.png

Analogous to a generic file browser and manager, such as Finder on macOS, it provides a way for various apps and services to share files with each other. This implies that files residing in local storage of other apps and cloud storages may be opened using Texpad. You may edit them, with resulting changes saved directly to the original location as exposed to Texpad by Files app.

We strongly recommend users to familiarise themselves with the detailed workings of the Files app as it is fundamental to working with documents that shared with the world outside of Texpad and outside of the device it runs on. The following handy guide covers all the basics of it,

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT206481#organise

Opening files from Files app in Texpad

In Texpad, the starting point for interaction with Files app the File Browser pane, where sections iCloud and Locally Shared Files allow you to access these files,

ios/file-browser/ipad/shared-files.jpeg

iCloud is given its own section in the File Browser, but the mechanism underlying the file access is the same for iCloud as any other app or service that has implemented full Files app support.

When you click on buttons “Open a Folder” or “Open Files”, a document picker dialogue appears. This contains the contents of all files seen by Files app, i.e., files made available to Files app by other apps and cloud storage services. The action of using the document picker to open a file or a folder implies that you grant Texpad permission to open, edit, save and change the file or folder during your work on it inside the app.

Opening single files

If you wish to edit a single file via the Document Picker, you can do this by choosing the document picker in the File Browser pane. This file will appear on your home screen for easy access in the future.

Opening multi-file projects

In the case of a multi-file project, for example a project where you have a root.tex file that includes chapter1.tex and bibliography.bib as subfiles using the \include and \bibliography commands respectively, you can either link them individually with Texpad or a link the entire folder that contains all the project files.

Unless you explicitly authorise Texpad to open a file in this way, iOS will not let it read the file, edit it, or even confirm to Texpad that it exists. Therefore if you open the root document of a multi-file project that includes subfiles with an \input command (or a related commands such as \include, \subfile, \import, \includegraphics, etc.), Texpad will not be able to see the subfiles, let alone open them, the way it can if the file is stored in Texpad’s own local storage, i.e., the storage named ‘iPad’ or ‘iPhone’ in the File Browser (see apps/managing-documents/ios/texpad-storage/local-storage ).

Link project folder

The Files app allows apps and services to share entire folders with other apps. This lends itself to working on multi-file documents in Texpad in the most convenient fashion. Simply tap on the button “Open a Folder” and a document picker dialogue will bring up all folders that are eligible for opening in Files app.

Linking all project files individually

To link all files of a project individually, follow the following steps.

  • Use the Document Picker in the File Browser pane of Texpad to open bibliography.bib and close it. This file will appear on the home screen, you have now indicated to iOS that Texpad should have permission to open and edit that file.
  • Use the Document Picker in the File Browser pane of Texpad to open chapter1.tex and close it. This file will also appear on the home screen, you have now indicated to iOS that Texpad should have permission to open and edit that file.
  • Use the Document Picker in the File Browser pane of Texpad to open root.tex, you should now see that chapter1.tex and bibliography.bib have been opened along with it.

Notes on Files app support by various cloud storages

The introduction of Files app in iOS 11 has fundamentally changed file access and sharing on iOS, providing a single, unified, easy to use mechanism for sharing files. The mechanism however relies on the developers of cloud storage apps and services to implement its support inside their apps. If a cloud storage app that fronts the service chooses not implement support for Files app, it will remain incompatible with it.

After years of grappling with ever-changing cloud storage systems, for apps such as Texpad, Files app provides a way to leave the file management to storages whose business it is, and focus on Texpad’s own core task of providing a writing and typesetting environment.

Apple’s own iCloud storage is a fine example of a system that fully complies with the Files app world. Users can link files as well as folder, work on them, add files to folders and generally use iCloud to work smoothly with the workflow provided by Texpad. Another special mention goes to an app called Working Copy, a Git client that has full support for linking files and folders.

We do not wish to name and shame, but the leading cloud storages lack in this regard. Files in Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc are often (but not always) easy to open in Texpad via Files app, but folder support is almost entirely missing. We hope that users continue to ask their cloud storage providers to implement this crucial part of the system to make their storages immensely more usable on iOS.