Daily Mac App: iExplorer

Like most technically-inclined folks, I found myself doing a little family tech support over the holidays. I needed to use an iPod touch as a USB drive to copy files between my Mac and my brother's Windows 7 computer. This isn't something I'll do often so I was looking for something easy and free. I found what I was looking for in iExplorer (formerly "iPhone Explorer") from Macroplant.

Let's be clear: iExplorer is a simple application which is designed to do only two things: a) mount your iOS devices like a basic USB "thumb" drive and b) persuade you to consider upgrading to the company's PhoneDisk (US$20) program, which has more features. Some of those features are even shown within the iExplorer UI, and when you click on them, a prompt appears to upgrade. Even if you don't want to upgrade, you'll still run into a mild case of the "nags." While iExplorer is offered for free, the developers ask that you spread the word by posting a message on Twitter or Facebook. Otherwise there's a window that covers up the application each time it launches. For a program that you keep in your "tech support tool belt" for occasional use only, these are minor annoyances.

If you do decide to upgrade, I'd suggest checking out PhoneView which does a whole lot more than just mount the iOS device. I have written about PhoneView before, and it continues to be my "go to" app. There is no Windows version, however, so if that's important to you, PhoneDisk might be a better choice.

There's not much more to say about iExplorer itself. The app installs simply, and usage is as straightforward as possible. I had a 32 GB USB thumb drive, but it was formatted for Mac OS X and couldn't be read on my brother's Windows 7 machine. A 32 GB iPod touch (or iPad or iPhone) with a lot of free space makes a great method of transportation between Windows and Mac computers. iExplorer filled a gap, and for free.