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I have a directory under the Documents folder (let's call it My Vacation), and iCloud Drive is enabled.

I'm regularly adding files to this directory on my Mac. (PDFs, tickets, etc.)

How can I mark this directory as "available offline" on my iPad, so that I don't have to tap every single file before I leave to make sure they've all been downloaded to the iPad? (I will be without internet nearly all the trip.)

I'd be equally happy keeping all my iCloud Drive contents on my iPad, but there doesn't seem to be a "Keep All Files" vs. "Optimize Storage" option on iOS.

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  • What happens if you turn off your network access and then try to open a file that you haven't opened recently?
    – fsb
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 16:27
  • @fsb I get a popup that says something to the effect of, "You're Offline - Please check your connection and try again."
    – Craig Otis
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 18:06

6 Answers 6

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While iOS/iPadOS 15 still does not offer a native feature, there is a workaround using "Shortcuts" that will trigger the files to download.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app and create a new shortcut
  2. Add Action "Get Contents of Folder" (*)
  3. Press the triangle icon and enable "Recursive"
  4. Add Action "Get Details of Files"
  5. Set the detail variable to "File Size" (if not set by default)

(*) You can set the "Folder" variable to a single folder in your cloud, the entire iCloud or just leave it as a variable (in which case you'll get asked every time you run the shortcut).

As with any shortcut you can run this action from the Shortcuts app, put it on your home screen (using the share icon at the bottom) or create an automation to automatically run it by schedule or under certain circumstances.

Shortcut Screenshot

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One hack I’ve found, that will work one time only (it won’t keep the folder updated offline constantly like you want) - so you’ll need to do this just before you leave for the vacation / beach (places that Apple doesn’t seem to think exist, which is why they don’t have this stupidly simple feature on the Files app):

Long-press a folder on your iPad in Files and hit Compress. The device has no choice but to download everything in order to zip it up - then when you need, uncompress 🙂 yes this will occupy lots of space and you’ll have to keep track of which zip files you want to delete later on - but you have Apple’s poor UX decision making on Files (and Books) to thank for this.

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    Heck of a workaround. I’m just using the Mac to copy to USB storage and taking that with me. Works great for iOS and iPadOS to access files on a hard drive or other USB storage.
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 0:15
  • Love this compress trick! Saved me time clicking on each of the audio tracks!
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 15:04
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I do not think there is an "Keep Offline" feature on iCloud. I generally hit the download icon next to the files that I would need before I travel. But on iOS13 there is a new pin feature for folders that would keep the folder for offline access.

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  • 2
    Where can this pin feature be found? Did this feature made it past the iOS 13 betas and into one of the future public releases?
    – Nimesh Neema
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 10:50
  • 1
    I think @Vinny means the Download button aftering a long tap for each folder in Files.
    – taper
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 9:26
  • There is no Download option I can see on iPad unfortunately, even after a long press on a folder
    – Aditya M P
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 0:02
  • 1
    @NimeshNeema The pin feature was available at some point but was removed IIRC.
    – Frizlab
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 5:23
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Until there’s a “download this folder” function, I copy that folder to a USB drive on the Mac. Files.app can read off USB drives in case the code didn’t sync the file to the iPad before you lose network access.

It’s not as cool as a switch to download the files like music can with a playlist or song or album, but it’s fast and reliable and inexpensive.

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You can on iPadOS 15.7.2 go into the folder - select / select all / NEXT / download files. and you have it;-)

it only works on files not on folder (but you can still rename files along "folder" prefix to sort files...)

b.

0

For storing PDF files (articles, books, traveling tickets, etc.) on my iPad I use the app GoodReader.

You can select a folder and click on "iCloud Download" which, as the name suggests, downloads the whole content of the iCloud folder locally onto the device.

I know it's not a fully generic solution (i.e. all iCloud files saved offline on device) and not free either, but since it's a quite popular PDF editing app among document viewer apps in the iPad ecosystem.

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