How to find downloaded files on your iPhone or Android smartphone

After a while, smartphones can become handheld electronic briefcases. Not only do they have the tools we need, but stacks of photos, files, videos, and other media crammed into it each day. While media secretly downloads onto our mobile devices, however, a conscious effort is needed to actually find where downloads reside on our phones.

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This guide explains exactly how to find downloaded files on iPhones and Android phones, including Samsung and Google Pixel mobiles. It details just where to look and what to do in order to access your downloaded media.

How to find downloads on iPhone

If you own an iPhone, go to the Files app to find your downloads. Files can be used to store everything from photos to saved GarageBand songs. If you’ve downloaded something in the past, you’re almost certain to find it there. Here’s how:

Step 1: On the Home screen, tap Files.

Step 2: If you aren’t taken immediately to the Browse screen, tap the Browse folder icon at the bottom-right of the screen.

Within Browse you’ll see a number of options listed under Locations:

  • Cloud: Tap iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon Drive, or any other cloud-based to access files stored in those accounts.
  • Local: Tap On My Phone to see all files downloaded to your device.
  • Recently Deleted: Open this folder to search for any files you may have accidentally deleted.

Step 3: Tap iCloud Drive.

Step 4: Tap Downloads on the following screen.

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, you can tap the search bar and enter the name of your downloaded file. And if you can’t remember the exact name, you can type the first few letters, which prompts the app to suggest likely candidates.

How to find downloads on Samsung phones

For Samsung smartphones, much the same principle applies, but with slightly different names.

Step 1: Open the app drawer and either tap the My Files icon or open the Samsung folder and access it from there (depends on the phone).

Step 2: Under Categories, tap Downloads.

Note: The My Files app provides other categories as well that separates files into types: Images, Videos, Audio, Documents, and Installation Files. Check these categories if you can’t find your file(s) using the Downloads category.

You can also use the Search field on the app drawer to locate a specific download.

How to find downloads on Google Pixel phones

Technically, these steps apply to Google’s Files app that can be used on any Android phone, not just the Google Pixel series.

Step 1: Open the app drawer and tap the Files app.

Step 2: The Clean tab opens by default. Scroll down and tap the Downloaded Files card. Alternatively, tap the Browse tab at the app’s bottom followed by Downloads on the following screen. Both lead to the same location.

On the Downloads screen, you can switch between Thumbnail and List views. Next to this button is a three-dot “More” icon presenting a drop-down menu with Sort By and Select All options.

In online forums, a small minority of Google Pixel owners have reported an inability to find downloaded photos or files in the Files app. Usually, this is the result of a permissions problem stemming from using the Google app to downloaded images.

To solve it, go to Settings > Apps > Google > Permissions. Next, make sure Storage permission is switched on. If it isn’t, downloaded files will continue to be sent to a separate system directory.

How to find downloads on Android phones

Finding downloads on other Android phones follows pretty much the same workflow as finding them on Google Pixel or Samsung phones. However, depending on the models and manufacturers involved, the app name may differ.

As a rule of thumb, you need to do the following:

Step 1: Get your app drawer opened.

Step 2: Open the file manager on your phone, which will be named something along the lines of Downloads, File Manager, or My Files.

Step 3: Select the Downloads file folder.

Note: Some users may need to select Internal Storage before they’re able to see Downloads.

If you’re unable to pinpoint the file you need in Downloads, try searching for it through the search bar or consider combing through another file folder.

Don’t forget third-party apps

Netflix downloads
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

It’s pretty common for some applications to save downloads straight to their specific internal files. Netflix is a frequent example of this; to find Netflix downloads, open the Netflix app, tap the menu icon in the top right corner of your screen, and select My Downloads.

Some apps could follow suit— like ones on Androids and iPhones. If you used one particular app to download a specific file, try checking within that application to reaccess the file. (Especially if you can’t find the download in its typical location.)

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