I am considering buying an iPhone, probably an XR, XS, or X.

Is it possible to file-manage such a device from a laptop that is running Windows 7 Pro and is connected to the iPhone by USB cable, and if so how can I do this?

The kind of file management tasks I have in mind are straightforward ones such as copying files to and fro, editing text files (which comes down to being able to open and save from the Windows machine), renaming and deleting files and directories, creating new directories, and moving files and directories about. Is this just as easy to do as if the laptop were connected by USB cable to say a flash drive rather than to the smartphone? Or is it perhaps impossible because there is no way of making an iPhone running iOS show up on a Windows box as a drive in the first place?

(Note: I have no need to sync; this question concerns file management only.)


Generally speaking you can't do this on a PC (Linux or Windows) or a Mac. Though on Windows PCs you can usually get to the folder that holds music and pictures, if I remember correctly.

But really there is no way to treat an iPhone like a thumb drive without jailbreaking it or jumping through hoops that would end up (possibly) being more trouble than it is worth.

The only thing you should do is back up the phone to your PC from time to time. Yes you can use iCloud backup, which I do use, but I also change that button in iTunes and back up locally from time to time. Mostly because I am a vaguely paranoid IT guy who has seen so many people lose data because of incomplete backups that I have two backup methods for my iPhone.

  • Many thanks for this. Being able to copy to and from that folder may be sufficient for my needs, especially if there are no restrictions on what types of file can be saved in it or directory structures created. Without using the cloud, is it only this folder that you back up locally and directly? Do you do it by USB cable? I don't understand the reference to "that button in iTunes".
    – user341810
    Aug 11 '19 at 18:39
  • I'd appreciate your comments on this which deals with "using your iPhone as a flash drive", I think without jailbreaking and just by using a file management app from the Apple Store.
    – user341810
    Aug 11 '19 at 18:43
  • Never heard of it. As always on AskDifferent individuals answer questions to the best of their ability. Meaning that any one answer may or may not be either correct or the whole answer. I don't jailbreak my phones and stopped even trying to use them as a flash drive since my first iPhone (a 3G, if I recall...) so the state of the art for file storage may have changed. And there is always iCloud drive... Aug 11 '19 at 18:48

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