Jailbreaking has some major upsides. Greater user freedom, deeper control over iOS, and apps you won’t find anywhere else are just a few of the benefits enjoyed by users who take the plunge. Installing Cydia opens the door to all sorts of new tweaks that allow the user control over things which previously were out of reach.
One of those is the iOS file system. It’s something that Apple would never, ever include in a stock iPhone. It’s the very definition of user-unfriendly. However, power users will definitely want this app. iFile is hands-down the most useful thing to come out of jailbreaking. It comes with so many helpful features and additions that only the control freaks at Apple would not love.
It is also available for non jailbroken phones in the form of the iFile browser. The top selling point of iFile is that it allows you to access, organize, and edit every file* stored on your iOS device & on your cloud storage accounts from a single location! You can access the files saved on remote storage accounts, view every file type in the world, and unify the way you manage your documents.
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Going behind the scenes
iFile shows the iOS file directory. Early versions of iFile did that and nothing else, and it was still a useful app. We talked to the app’s developer, Carsten Heinelt about his popular tweak.
“I want to enable users to get a close look at the ios file system and to be able to view the most relevant file types,” Heinelt said. “In addition, I want to allow exchange with external file systems (Dropbox, box.net, FTP, WebDAV supported today).”
One of the things that makes iFile so remarkable is all the other features it offers. The app carefully toes the line between feature-filled and bloated without going over.
As stated by its impressive feature list, iFile offers full integration with the aforementioned cloud services as well as file transfer via Bluetooth, Celeste, and AirBlue Sharing.
You can also use it to create, cut, copy, delete, compress, decompress, search, email, or edit files. You can even change their permissions.
There are also options for installing Debian packages and viewing a wide array of files within the app. Images, music, and text are all fair game in iFile.
However, our favorite feature is the web server. Connect the iDevice to a WiFi network and iFile can start up a local file server for transferring content wirelessly.
This is a great way to copy over PDFs for homework or new books to read without digging through iTunes. The best part? Tap any media file in iFile and you can open it in another app. Epubs seamlessly go into iBooks and .cbr files open without fail in Comic Zeal.
That’s not even touching all the improvements Heinelt has made to the user interface. There are tabs, shortcuts to a home directory, and bookmarks. The worlds most popular OS – Windows doesn’t even have tabbed file browsing yet.
iFile is amazingly useful. “Well, [building the app] was not too difficult. It’s more a question of time and also to add all the other functionality,” Heinelt said.
Finding your way around
At its core, iFile is a way to look at the underlying file system behind iOS. It shows the labyrinthine directory of folders that make an iPhone tick. Although it can be intimidating at first to users, there is a lot of good stuff there.
Let’s start with the home directory, /var/mobile. This is where you’ll find Applications, Documents, Library, and Media. /var/mobile/Applications is full of folders labeled with nonsensical strings of letters and numbers.
This is where iOS stores the files necessary to run an app. Tap any one of the folders and it’ll open up another page of associated files for that app. One of the folders will be labeled “appname.app”. This, obviously, tells you what app keeps its files here.
There are not a lot of useful features here, although we like looking through app files. Looking at the underlying code for apps is cool, in our opinion.
Head back up to /var/mobile/Library and you can find storage for a lot of apps. Apple keeps the text from their Notes app stored under /var/mobile/Library/Notes. Don’t forget to check out the Safari history under Safari/History.plist.
Media is the last folder in the home directory. You can look through your pictures from the Photos app.
That’s about all we’ve found in terms of interesting folders in iFile. There are some art assets in /var/stash, but the most use we got out of those was changing the default city names in Civilization Revolution.
iFile is an amazing app that we would highly recommend to any serious jailbroken user. It’s one of those endlessly useful tools that we couldn’t live without. Go get it today.