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.

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.

Generally, you have to do the following:

Step 1: Open the app drawer.

Step 2: Open your phone’s file manager, which will have a name like My Files, Files, Downloads, or File Manager.

Step 3: Tap the Downloads folder.

Note: In some cases, you may have to tap Internal Storage before coming to this point.

If the file you’re looking for isn’t in Downloads, try another folder, or try using the search bar.

Don’t forget third-party apps

Netflix downloads
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that some specific apps save downloads to their own internal folders. For example, you can find Netflix downloads by opening the Netflix app, tapping the menu icon in the top-right of the screen, and selecting My Downloads.

In certain cases, other apps may do the same. This applies to iPhones and Android phones. So if you’ve downloaded a file through a particular app, try opening that app if you can’t find the download in the usual locations.

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