Many folks seek to access their iPhone app contents and documents with a simple file manager in the same way a computer browser goes through files on the PC.
There are a number of computer applications which provide easy access to iPhone documents and act like iPhone file explorers. This article reviews some of the most popular such utilities
Browse iPhone documents and files without iTunes
CopyTrans Apps is a free Beta PC software which allows you to essentially use your iPhone or iPad as a USB drive. Browsing for app documents is easy due to the simple interface.
The program provides an accessible way to display, modify or add files on your iPhone as if the iPhone were a true flash drive. Here’s how it’s done: Turn your iPhone into a USB flash drive
CopyTrans Apps is a little more than an iPhone app and file browser as it allows you to back up and restore iPhone apps along with app documents and preferences. The backups remain offline on your PC and can be restored to any iOS device.
Supports: iOS 7; Windows PCs
Pros: The simple interface allow to browse and modify iPhone app files and documents with ease. Ability to backup and restore apps to the iPhone is a plus.
Cons: The program is still in Beta
Price: Free Beta version
Download link: http://www.copytrans.net/copytransapps.php
Transfer documents to iPhone via iTunes
iTunes is the default iPhone apps manager program for your computer. Although, in my view, far from perfect, iTunes can be used to browse a limited amount of app documents.
I can also browse and add documents to third-party app I installed earlier on my iPhone called “Documents”. iTunes displays the documents stored within the app which consist of one Excel spreadsheet and one text document.
iTunes in itself is not a sufficient iPhone file browser. Its reach is rather limited as you can only browse the documents of a handful of apps. In addition, saving documents to your iPhone or iPad via iTunes requires a sync. iTunes sync is not something you want to resort to especially when your iTunes library is empty and/or you’ve never synced the iPhone before. iTunes sync in such a situation will remove the entire multimedia contents of your iPhone.
System requirements: iPhone 5s/c and earlier, iOS 7 and earlier; Windows and Mac computers
Pros: the native free Apple utility for managing iPhone on a computer
Cons: very limited access to app documents. Bulky sync. Program takes up considerable space on computer.
Other iPhone web browsers to look at
A number of third-party utilities are designed to help you browse iPhone files without requiring the use of iTunes. Here are some of the more popular ones.
iFunBox a fun yet complicated iPhone file manager and browser
iFunBox allowed me to to browse the contents of most of my iPhone apps. Compared to iTunes, it gives you a much wider choice of apps documents to explore. In the picture below, you can see that the program lists the same contents for the Pages app for instance.
Instead of the actual WhatsApp conversations, however, I found a set of files which at first look didn’t make sense and which I could not really open on my computer.
System requirements: iPhone 5 and 5s, iOS 7; Windows and Mac computers
Pros: much wider choice of app data and files to browse on the iPhone than iTunes
Cons: while you can freely browse iPhone app documents on your computer, most of the app files make little or no sense for the average iPhone user. Having said this, advanced iPhone users and people who jailbroke their iOS device might like iFunBox better.
Explore iPhone documents with iExplorer
iExplorer is another independent iPhone file browser. I find its interface a bit less complicated than iFunBox.
Again, I was left with a thumb in the mouth when neither the iPhone PDF, books or podcasts were listed by their name and I had to do some serious file-opening on my computer in order to identify which file is what.
Supports: iOS 7; Windows and Mac computers
Pros: iPhone file browser view is more structured and less complicated than iFunBox. Wide range of apps and app documents visible and able to be browsed through.
Cons: Still not a solution for the inexperienced iPhone user. App files such as iPhone EPUB and PDF files are listed by their code names and not in the way they appear on the device. Seemingly out-of-order file organization.
Price: USD 35 for full version