Documents 7 review: Free iOS file manager puts Apple’s Files app to shame

Documents 7 is a free iOS app for reading PDF, EPUB, Word, and Excel documents, opening ZIP archives, viewing images, downloading and much more

It took Apple nearly a decade to bring proper file management to the iPhone and iPad with the arrival of the Files app in iOS 11. Over the same period of time, an enterprising third-party developer based in Odessa, Ukraine was busy refining its own file manager app, which outshines Apple’s in almost every conceivable way.

Documents 7 is the latest incarnation of the versatile iOS utility that started as clever web app ReaddleDocs, named for the up-and-coming startup who created it. The mobile equivalent of macOS Finder, this jack-of-all-trades allows iPhone and iPad owners to browse, view, and manage files with ease, all from an intuitive user interface that puts Apple’s own Files to shame.

documents 7 iphone plus button menu
Documents 7 brings the Plus button to iPhone, making it easier for users to create and import files from almost anywhere.

Although there was little to dislike about the look and feel of prior releases, Documents 7 adds a fresh coat of paint inspired by the company’s recent PDF Expert 7, a robust tool for document editing and annotation. The result is a refined UI that makes viewing and organizing files a more organic experience, with support for iOS 13’s new Dark Mode and floating keyboard. iPad users can also now open more than one Documents window at a time, great for side-by-side comparison or to drag and drop content between them.

Making its way from iPad to iPhone is the Plus button, a convenient one-tap popup in the lower right corner which speeds up creation of new folders, text and PDF files, scanning new documents, or importing existing files from iCloud Drive, Photos, cloud storage providers, or network-attached sources. Naturally, there’s also integration with the built-in Files app for seamlessly accessing content stored there, as well as opening files saved in existing Locations within Documents 7.

PDF master

From the beginning, Documents 7 included a built-in web browser, which now offers private browsing mode. On the iPhone, browser settings are conveniently located from any open tab—no more hopping back to in-app settings just to clear data or change the location of file downloads. There’s even a new option to choose DuckDuckGo, Yandex, Ecosia, or Yahoo as the default search engine instead of Google. (Yay, privacy!)

documents 7 ipad add connection
Whether it’s cloud storage, network-attached devices, or remote servers, Documents 7 makes file management a snap.

While Documents has always been a very capable PDF reader, version 7.0 introduces an option to turn the app into a full-fledged editor as well. After upgrading to an annual subscription ($50 per year), Documents 7 unlocks a full complement of professional tools, allowing users to edit, convert, and reduce the size of PDF files.

If you already own PDF Expert 6, those editing features are available free of charge in Documents 7. Unfortunately, three advanced tools recently added to PDF Expert 7 do not get shared, so the only way to customize the Favorites toolbar or convert and compress PDF files is to pay for another annual subscription. That stinks, but Readdle offers a discounted upgrade to PDF Expert owners ($10 for the first year). For the moment, this is the only in-app purchase offered—everything else is absolutely free.[ Further reading: Everything you need to know about iOS 13 ]

documents 7 transfer to computer
Documents 7 can effortlessly transfer files between iOS devices and personal computers using any web browser.

Bottom line

For those underwhelmed by the built-in Files app, do yourself a favor and install Documents 7, the free file manager worthy of being installed on every iOS device.

All Rights Reserved for J.R. Bookwalter

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