iPhone Explorer lets you explore files stored on an iPhone, iPod or iPad. Although it is a separate program, and not made by Apple, iPhone Explorer needs iTunes to be installed in order to work
Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad are enormously popular but they all suffer from the same restriction - getting anything on or off them requires use of iTunes or other Apple applications.
While iTunes does a good job of managing music, podcasts and so on, it doesn’t afford the freedom to manage the devices’ available storage in any way you want.
In this workshop we will show how a free program called iPhone Explorer lets you explore files stored on an iPhone, iPod or iPad. We will also explain how the files can be copied to and from Apple gadgets using drag-and-drop. There are a few kinks, but generally it works well. Although it is a separate program, and not made by Apple, iPhone Explorer needs iTunes to be installed in order to work.
Click here to open the iPhone Explorer web page. When the page loads, click the grey Download button (PC version) and at the next dialogue box click Save. If the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and then choose a location for the downloaded file. Firefox users should select Save File to save the download to Firefox’s default download folder. Now locate and double-click the compressed (zip) file just downloaded and double-click the iPhone_Explorer_Setup.exe file within. Follow the instructions to install the software. Ensure there is a tick next to ‘Launch iPhone Explorer’ and click Finish. ▼
Attach your iPhone, iPod or iPad to your PC and, after a second or two, several things will happen at once. First, Windows will recognise it as a USB device and launch the AutoPlay dialogue box. This will offer several options, but we’re not interested so click the ‘x’ in the top right-hand corner to close it. Second, iTunes will launch and, depending on the existing settings, may ask to synchronise the contents of the device with your iTunes library. Decline this offer and close iTunes as normal. Now we are ready to get started with iPhone Explorer. ▼
The program lists the device in the left-hand column, with the storage areas listed as clickable folders – much the same as Windows Explorer. Apple never intended for anyone to snoop around its products like this, so the folder structure and some of the names don’t make a lot of sense. Here we have clicked on the DCIM folder (you will usually find one of these on a digital camera memory card) and found our photos that are stored in the iPhone’s Camera Roll. ▼
Just like a digital camera, the iPhone gives photographs names that make sense to it, but not to anyone else. Fortunately, it’s possible to preview photos using iPhone Explorer - just click a file. Here, for example, we clicked through various photos in the list until we found the one we wanted. Then, using the mouse we dragged it from the iPhone Explorer window onto our Windows Desktop, before opening it in an image-editing application. ▼
You can also preview recordings made by Apple’s Voice Memos app – click them in the iPhone Explorer window and then, when the media player strip appears at the bottom of the window, use the controls to play back the recording. Files can also be dragged from the PC to the iPhone, iPod or iPad, effectively turning the device into a USB memory key. However, there is a caveat: although these files will remain accessible via the iPhone Explorer application, you cannot view them on the Apple device itself. ▼
Finally, there’s a way round the unhelpful naming conventions used by Apple for the various folders on the device. First, navigate to a folder you are likely to use often and then click the Favorites button on the button bar. When the Bookmarks dialogue box opens, click the Add Current Folder button and at the next dialogue, type in a descriptive name for the bookmark, click OK and then Close. Next time you launch iPhone Explorer, click Favorites and choose the bookmark just created to have the contents displayed in the main window. ●
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