Apple thinks the future of personal computing is touch. They promote especially the iPad Pro as the device which makes you want to ditch your conventional computing device: your notebook or desktop computer.

Unfortunately if you want to transition to an iOS-only computing live, like some people already have, you first have to get all your old files on your new device.

iCloud To the Rescue!

Well, it would be funny if not iCloud sometimes seem to be the one which has to be rescued from itself, because it managed to not sync your files, not downloading it for viewing or even doesn’t display them at all on iOS devices.

After the disaster the document picker on iOS 8 was—always crashing—with iOS 9 there’s thankfully an iCloud Drive app, so you have easy access to your files. The current state is that it works okay, but sometimes you have to reboot your device to make iCloud Drive download files again.

If you manage to sync all your files from OS X to iCloud, you might not be able to open these files on your iPhone or iPad. While it’s no surprise that not every OS X app has a sibling on iOS (yet), at least all files created by Apple’s own apps which ship with OS X by default should work, right? Nope. Some are missing:

.webloc files. You create those by dragging a URL from Safari’s location bar to e.g. your desktop. Solution: use DropBox in addition to iCloud. DropBox can read those links. If you don’t have a Dropbox account, you can use the app Webloc on iOS.

.webarchive files. Web pages saved with Safari. Solution: use a 3rd party browser like Mercury.

.eml files. Emails saved with Mail. Solution: maybe a 3rd party email client is able to open them?

.txt files. Texts saved with TextEdit. iCloud Drive wants to open these in Numbers, which sometimes fails and . Solution: use a text editor which supports opening files from iCloud Drive like Byword.

.textClipping. Selected text that was dragged to e.g. the desktop. Solution? Maybe, I never used text clippings to begin with.

How to Handle Unreadable Files

I used spotlight to find all file types which are not suitable for iOS and either converted them or just deleted them. You won’t believe the file cruft which gathered over the years. If the files are in an old file format it’s very likely I didn’t use them in a long time. If converting doesn’t work saving them as PDF might be the last hope to have at least a readable copy. And some files already have outlived their purpose. I just delete them.

The files which I wasn’t able to make fit for iOS I tagged in the Finder as “iOS unreadable”. So I’m able to find these files again easily.

Unfortunately tags are not fully supported iOS at the moment. No searching, editing, removing or applying tags in iCloud Drive app. Only the colored circles are visible next to the file name. If you want to see tags for folders, you have to switch to list view.

If you are still reading it seems you’re quite interested in having an iOS-only setup. The good news is it’s entirely possible and also reasonable. There might be some apps which only exist on OS X, so there’s still possible limitation. But it’s definitely reasonable to have a personal or private iOS-only setup.