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Guide: How To Download Any File in iOS
iOS is a closed system. Each app runs in its own silo environment. Apps cannot access the file manager featuresYou’ve heard it all before.
While all of this makes iOS more secure and faster than platforms such as Android, it also makes it limited in certain quirky ways.
Take downloading a file for example. You would go to Safari or Chrome on your phone, tap a file to download and if it is anything like a document it will download, but you have to immediately transfer it to an app to view it or else the file will be lost forever. There is no real “download” or “downloader” feature in iOS. For this we have to turn to third party apps.
Note: Android phones give instant access to your downloads, right from the file explorer – just like the Downloads folder on your computer.
The best: Mercury Browser
Mercury Browser (a free base app – $ 0.99 for Pro version) is one of the best third-party browsers for iOS. If you are adamant, it can easily replace Safari for you. Here’s an overview of his features
- History and bookmark sync from Firefox and Chrome
- Feature rich download manager with resume support
- Support to download any type of file – music, videos, PDF, Office documents, etc.
- Ad blocking
- Search, bookmarks, switch user agent and much more.
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Anything that can be downloaded will be downloaded.
How is downloading in Mercury different from Safari?
As I mentioned above, Safari and Chrome don’t have dedicated download managers. For example, say I go to a webpage with free downloadable songs or podcasts and click the Download MP3 link.
What will happen? Safari will bring up a new page and starts playing the file, but it is not actually downloaded to the local storage. This can be seen in the screenshots below.
Now when I go to the same page in Mercury Browser and hold down the link, I get a Download link option. Tapping on it will immediately start the download in the background. I can access the current downloads by tapping the menu icon and selecting Files.
I can download multiple files at once, pause and resume downloads and also access completed downloads. Plus, the app has a built-in preview for media and documents, so I don’t even have to go to another app to open the file.
But I can if I choose. When I press and hold a file, I get the standard iOS share menu. Here I can open the file in any supported app.
Since I am on iOS 8, I get access to share extensions. This means that I can upload the file directly to Dropbox, save a document I downloaded to Evernote, and a lot more.back to menu ↑
Alternative – Downloader for iOS
Downloader is the simplified version of Mercury Browser, but it is full of ads – both banner and pop-up ads. The app contains only the “downloader” portion of the Mercury Browser. At first glance, it may be enough.
But I would advise you to stay away from such one-off apps. First, they are not as well designed and optimized as full browsers. And second, the pop-up ads really spoil the experience.
It would be worth it if they offered a little more, which is something Mercury Browser doesn’t. But unfortunately, they don’t.back to menu ↑
How do you download files on iOS?
What do you use to download files on iOS? Do you think Mercury Browser will be an upgrade for you? Let us know in the comments below.
Top image via Shutterstockback to menu ↑
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