Beginning with Catalina, transferring files to / from an iPad is handled via the macOS Finder: the iPad appears in Finder windows as a volume, and you can drag files from anywhere on your Mac to the "Files" tab of the iPad Finder window.

Can other apps on macOS save to iOS files?

Say for example I'm downloading a PDF on my desktop computer. My browser prompts me for a Save location. I would like to transfer the PDF to my iPad so that I can read it and annotate it using my preferred app on that device. My current workflow is:

  1. Download file to Desktop (or Downloads folder, it doesn't matter)
  2. Switch to Finder
  3. In Finder, navigate to downloaded file's location
  4. Drag file to iPad
  5. Delete downloaded file (this step is optional, but I don't like to keep multiple copies of downloads cluttering up my workspace).

Is there a way to cut out the middleman and just tell my Mac browser, when it prompts me for a save location, to save it to my iPad?

(If it makes a difference, you can assume, for the sake of this question, that the iPad is connected to my Mac with a wired connection.)

Note: this is not the same as How can I download files directly from Safari to ”on my iPad”?, as that question appears to be about downloading files using Safari on the iPad, whereas I am using Safari on a Mac that has iPad connected in Catalina.

  • 1
    Can you just save it to an iCloud folder? That way your iPad can access it directly from the Files app (after it syncs).
    – fsb
    Jun 1, 2021 at 21:30
  • I suspect what you're asking for isn't possible because the iPad isn't mounted as a storage device on the filesystem, so arbitrary applications cannot save files to it like any other location on the filesystem. Jun 1, 2021 at 21:36

2 Answers 2


The easiest way of sharing/accessing files between your macOS and iOS devices is to use iCloud Synchronisation. As far as I know, there is no way of accessing your iOS device as an attached storage device from within macOS Finder.


Assuming your Mac and the iOS device are connected to the same network you can use simply an app like e.g. AirDisk Pro to mount the iPad As a network device on your Mac (there are quite a few of this kind of apps or ones who allow to setup a SMB Share on the iPad🤓).

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