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iOS 18 includes Keep Downloaded option for vital files

It’s meant to save space on your device, but iCloud’s decisions about which files can be temporarily downloaded can be irritating, until a new feature in iOS 18 lets you stop it.

Long-pressing on a document in the Files app now displays the Keep Downloaded option

Even with just a measly 5GB of iCloud space, the system will still upload files to the cloud to save storage space on your devices. It’s meant to be an intelligent system that realizes that it’s, for example, a large file that hasn’t been opened in a long time.

In practice, however, that large file may be the next thing you need and it’s now off your device. At the very least, it’s an inconvenience while you wait for it to download, but it can be a bigger problem.

The obvious problem is when you are somewhere without an Internet connection. When that happens, you’re just out of luck.

But even when you’re in a great Wi-Fi area, sometimes iCloud will take long enough to download for an app to assume there’s a problem. You went to open something in Numbers, it didn’t open right away because it was downloading, and you get an error message instead of your spreadsheet.

Or a Final Cut Pro video may suddenly have a red screen and an error message stating that media is not found.

In many situations, iCloud’s excellent space-saving feature is anything but great. But now with iOS 18 (and macOS Sequoia) at least some of those cases are solved.

Or they can be. In the Files app in iOS 18, the pop-up menu that appears when you long-press a file now includes an option called.

This option is also available at least in Apple applications. If the app allows you to open documents, long-pressing the file name will give you the same Keep Downloaded option.

The new Keep Downloaded option is also in macOS Sequoia, for files that have already been uploaded

On Mac, so far it seems like you’re more limited. If a document has already been uploaded to iCloud (so it has the iCloud icon next to its name), right-clicking will bring up the Keep Downloaded option.

So it’s still not true that this iCloud feature is better for deciding what to download and what to keep on its own. It’s also not true that you can do much about it if you’re stuck somewhere and can’t get an internet connection.

But now you can choose certain files in advance, before any type of trip or during any important work, and be sure that they will remain on your iPhone.

Previous versions of iOS had ways to force a file to download right now, assuming you have a signal. But this is a particularly welcome step forward in iOS 18.

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