A handful of iPhone apps exist to make your iPhone a USB drive that stores your files for later viewing. Other apps like Dropbox give you access to your files on the cloud from your iPhone. These are great but wouldn’t it be easier if you could just view the files you already have on your Mac from your iPhone without having to duplicate and sync them manually? Here, File File is an iPhone app that allows you to access all the files on your Mac from anywhere using an iPhone connected to a Wi-Fi or 3G network. Using a Client/Server model, Here, File! File! is a combination setup with a free Mac server app which the iPhone app finds and connects to. It might sound complicated but really Here, File! File! is dead simple to setup and simply just works out of the box.
First you install the server application on your Mac and enter a password to use for connecting later. The server uses your internet connection’s assigned IP address on your Wi-Fi network and runs on a specified port which you can also easily change, in case you have port conflicts with another app. Once you see the green check mark and a message saying “Access your files from anywhere!” you’re ready to install the iPhone app.
The second step is to install the Here File File iPhone app and run it. On startup it lists File File servers it finds on your local network. From there you will see an icon representing your Mac that you tap to connect to. Note: first time setup is automatic if you’re in the same Wi-Fi network as the Mac. If not you can enter the IP address manually to connect as well.
The overall look and feel of the iPhone app is really well polished and pleasing on the eyes. Your connected Macs are shown using matching 3D hardware icons that sit atop a shiny wooden desk. The level of detail goes as far as rendering custom wallpapers from your Mac on the icons. If you connect to multiple machines, you can swipe to see the next one. Tap on any machine and enter the password you chose for your server to start browsing your files. For security purposes you have to enter the password each time you re-open the iPhone app.
File File lists your “Places” broken down by your home folder, Desktop, Documents, Music, Movies, and Pictures. The app also maps your connected disk Volumes where you can drill down into your entire hard drive repository at will. Each folder is neatly represented with its matching icon, and the number of items it contains. Files are represented by their name and file extension, file size and their actual app icons. Picture files are displayed with a tiny thumbnail of the photo and music files have the cover art shown in the icon.
File, File lets you view your documents and play your music and movies using the built in viewers. Details about the file such as the created and modified dates are listed. Here is also where you can “star” any file and have it show up in the Favorites tab. You can also star folders if you wish for quick reference later on. Movie and music files start to play quickly as they stream over the network which is great. If you’re going to use the app for streaming a lot of content make sure you don’t go over your allotted bandwidth limits with your phone carrier.
As long as your Mac is running and the Here File! File! Mac server is running, you can use File File to browse your Mac files from anywhere. You might encounter issues with your router or firewalls as far as opening ports to the outside world, but during our tests everything worked like a charm, both from inside and outside the Wi-Fi network. You can also email any file as an attachment or a link to the file. Links to files are sent using your public facing IP address. This means your server is able to respond to people outside your local network who you want to share files with. Since some internet service provides change your IP address once in a while this could cause hiccups in the service. We’re not sure if the app has a way of detecting and repairing these IP address changes.
Finally, you can keyword search your entire Mac using a Spotlight interface and even filter the type of files you want to search for in the app. Currently the app lets you filter folders, images, movies, music, pdf, and presentations. It would be great if text and word documents were also options. Files viewed are in portrait mode and you can pinch to zoom in/out but landscape mode isn’t supported.
Here are few suggestions for improvement in the next release. Let the server expose only specified folders to the app as an option, instead of the entire drive. Add landscape support. Starred items should be downloaded and stored locally for offline viewing, optionally. Perhaps a way to share files using HTTPS would be good. Finally, a PC version would be a great addition as well.
Overall, Here, File! File! is a powerful, beautiful, and simple way of accessing your Mac files anytime, anywhere, and without any hassle for a small one time fixed fee. It is highly recommended if you’re in the market for this type of file-sharing service for your iPhone.
Here is a video demo of the Here, File! File! app on the iPhone
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