I have a sizeable CD collection, all of which I've ripped and converted to MP3. While connected to my home network, I copied many of these files from my Samba NAS share using IOS's built-in files app to the phone itself. I put all the files in a folder I created named "Music". The copy ended with an error message. But all the files appear to be there (and they are consuming space on the device).

Now, how can I play these? If I browse to the folder in the IOS Files app, and tap on an MP3 file, it just hangs. I also tried some 3rd party apps: "Flacbox", "Nota Player", and even good ol' VLC. With VLC, I can't even see how to access the files I copied. Both Flacbox and Nota Player hang when I try to import the files.

FWIW, I am new to IOS, having come from Android. This process was trivial on Android: copy files (no errors), and there was a great simple, free app I used called "Folder Player" expressly for playing local audio media. How can I achieve a similar result on IOS/iPhone?

  • 1
    Why not use iTunes [PC/older Macs] or Music [newer Macs]? That's what it's designed for.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 14:43
  • I don't have a Mac. I'm trying to play on the iPhone, not on my computer. I don't want to use a big heavy overkill app like iTunes. I just want a simple, folder-based view of my music and want to play it that way.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 14:51
  • 1
    There's no real drive to producing that kind of app, because everybody else uses iTunes. It's only if you have nix & no Win/Mac that you'd ever need to do that. iOS is not comparable to Android in terms of just dropping files on it like an external storage device. So, idk if such a thing exists, but I wish you luck :)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 14:59
  • Files should play MP3 in a folder. What exactly was the error message when copying? If you want continuous playback with automatic progress to the next song in the background of songs you copied to a folder on iOS/iPadOS I suggest getting e.g. FE FileExplorer which offers additionally e.g. true background multitasking copying, supports various music and video formats, zip, tar, and much more. Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


It appears the answer is the "sandbox" design of iOS. Every app lives it its own little world ("sandbox") and has little to no access to files outside that world. And my understanding is that for device local storage, there really is no notion of a "common area" that any app can arbitrarily access.

Therefore, many of the apps I want to use as a simple folder-based music player can in fact do what I want, but it looks like my music has to be copied directly into the app's folder. I can either do this through the native iOS Files app, or "import" the files into the app through the app itself (depending on the app). I suspect the apps that appeared to hang were actually just doing the copy/import process. When I manually copied files using Files, it was quite slow.

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