iPadOS Files' search is now almost as good as the Mac's

The Files application is much better on iOS 13 and iPadOS. It adds external USB storage support, so you can connect anything from a hard drive or a USB-C memory to a synthesizer that can be mounted as a USB drive to load samples and presets.

Apple's built-in file management application adds column view (with a practical preview) and all the metadata you want to know about a particular file. And it also benefits from a massively enhanced search function.

Search for iPad files, iOS 12 vs. iPadOS

The search in the iOS 12 file application is rudimentary. It does the job, but little else. You can search for a file and, if you find it, you can open it, drag it to another place or tag it. If you press and hold that file, you can obtain additional information, including the file path (its current location in the folder hierarchy).

On iPadOS 13, which Apple launched today, Files offers a desktop class search. It facilitates the creation of complex searches and allows you to do much more with the results. Let's see it in action.

Search sheets

Do you know how when you search the Photos application, it offers suggestions to help you? Then, when you touch these suggestions, or search tokens the application adds them to the search field. You can add a token for Last week and another for Foods for example. Then you would see all the photos you took of the food last week.

  Search for tabs in the iOS 12 Photos application.
Search for tabs in the iOS 12 Photos application.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Search tokens reach the Files app on iPadOS. You can limit a search by file type (MP3, JPEG, etc.), date (last week, yesterday, June 2019) and even if it is shared with other people.

  These are the types of text files that can be searched on my iPad on iPadOS.
These are the types of text files that can be searched on my iPad on iPadOS.
Photo: Cult of Mac

To use these tokens, simply start writing. At this time, the support is a bit crude, and you just have to write to see what is available. When a token appears below the search bar, you can touch it to add it to the search and then continue typing to add other parameters. Thus:

  JPEG images that are shared with others, from last month.
JPEG images that are shared with others, last month.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The results are reduced live, as you write. And you can further narrow the search by storage location. The default is to search within any folder / drive you are currently viewing, but you can change to search only recent files.

iPadOS search results

Search results can be viewed in the list or in the icon view (not new column view), and you can tap any of them to open it. Or maybe when you touch it, you'll see a Quick View preview. This depends on whether iOS has chosen an application that is supposed to open that file.

But that's not all. Unlike iOS 12, you can act on your search results in other ways. Simply press and hold a file to see a context menu with options.

  New context action menu of the Files application.
New context action menu of the Files application.
Photo: Cult of Mac

You can see many things. of useful actions here, including labeling, copying / moving, setting (which adds a green marker to the file icon) and Information.

Get information

Tap Information and you will see this panel:

  The iPadOS information panel.
The iPadOS information panel.
Photo: Cult of Mac

This is more or less the same panel you see for a selected file in the new column view. Shows basic metadata about the file (creation and modification date, size, creative application, etc.). And it also allows you to perform some actions: you can open a file, add tags or, my favorite, show the file in your folder.

This is great. It allows you to search for a file whose name you know, for example, and then reveal it to see everything else in the same folder.

iPadOS file application: better than ever

Among this, USB storage support and the new possibilities of multiple File windows and other iPadOS applications, Files in iOS 13 is quite surprising.

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