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External Storage with iPad USB-C and iPhone USB-C


Many LaCie storage devices can be used with USB-C iPads and iPhones (click here to see if your LaCie device is supported with iPads USB-C and iPhones USB-C ). For a list of supported actions please see the list below:

Connecting Storage to Compatible iPads and iPhones

You can access, share, and copy files between external storage devices and compatible:

  • iPads running iPadOS 16 or later
  • iPhones running iOS 17 and later

The iPad and/or iPhone must have a USB-C port to connect the external storage device, including:

  • iPad Pro third generation and later
  • iPad Air fourth generation and later
  • iPad mini sixth generation and later
  • iPad tenth generation and later*
  • iPhone 15 / 15 Plus and later*
  • iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max and later

*Note: The USB-C port on the 10th generation iPad and the iPhone 15 / iPhone 15 Plus use USB 2.0 and are not compatible with Thunderbolt devices.

To view the contents of the storage device on your iPad or iPhone, connect it and then open the native Files app. The connected storage device is available in the left sidebar under Locations. Go to the Browse tab and then view Locations.

There are multiple folders for services and apps installed on your iPad. For example, cloud services such as iCloud, OneDrive, Adobe Creative Cloud, and many others have a folder in the Files app to easily view and copy content. Once your LaCie storage device is connected you can copy content to or from your preferred cloud service.

Note: Unlocking a LaCie storage device with a Seagate Secure password is currently unavailable. Seagate Secure can be temporarily disabled using Toolkit on a Mac or PC before connecting it to a supported iPad or iPhone.

Supported Actions

In the Files app, tap on the connected drive to see all files stored within it. Files and folders can be viewed and opened (if an app is installed to support the file type). The method of interacting with files changes slightly based on the version of iPadOS running. See this Apple article and select the appropriate iPadOS version for usage information.

Common actions are:

  • Copy: Copy one or more items to another directory.
  • Duplicate: Copy the item to the same folder.
  • Move: Move the item from the current folder to another folder.
  • Delete: Move the item to the Recently Deleted trash can in the Files app.
  • Info: Get details on the item.
  • Tags: Label an item for organizational purposes.
  • Rename: Change the name of the item.
  • Share: Share one or more items via a messaging, email or other communication app.
  • Note: This option can also be used to play a video file with a 3rd party app.
  • Favorite/Unfavorite: An item that has been marked as Favorite appears in the Favorite section of the Files app to easily find it.

Accessing Storage Devices in an App

iPadOS and iOS treats files in a different manner than other computer operating systems such as Linux, macOS, and Windows. Therefore, not all apps can access connected storage devices. To find out if an app supports external storage device check with the application developer.

To use files on the external storage device, some apps require a copy of the file on the iPad’s/iPhone’s internal storage. For example, you can choose “Files” in iMovie to import items for use as Media to edit.

External Storage Performance on iPad/iPhone USB-C Versus a Computer

Data transfers are not the same on an iPad/iPhone as a computer. While the USB-C port on some supported iPads/iPhones can be equivalent to USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt depending on the model, transfer rates tend to vary and the performance experienced with a Mac or PC is most likely superior.

Battery Use

Supported iPads and iPhones provide a range power deliveries to connected devices based upon the protocols of their USB-C ports. For example, an iPad Pro with Thunderbolt provides 15W of power delivery but an iPad 10th Generation and an iPhone 15/15 Plus are USB 2.0 which supports power delivery up to 2.5W. Confirm your mobile device’s model and protocol to better understand power provided to external devices.

Extended time with a connection to an external hard can lead to greater demand on the battery.


Unlike macOS and Windows, iPadOS and iOS do not require a “safe” ejection of a storage device. Simply disconnect the storage device once the actions are complete. Make certain that no transfer operations are active before disconnecting. The best practice is to remove the drive while the iPad or iPhone clearly shows that actions are complete.

Storage Formats

iPadOS and iOS support the following storage formats:

  • HFS+
  • APFS
  • APFS (Encrypted)
  • exFAT
  • FAT32
  • NTFS
    • NTFS formatted drives are read-only

Note on exFAT format via Windows: When formatting a drive as exFAT on a Windows PC, set the allocation size between 128K to 1024K. Allocation sizes larger than 1024K can lead to detection and write issues on an iPad USB-C. This is only true when formatting on a Windows PC.

Password Protection

APFS-encrypted storage devices are supported on iPadOS and iOS. You must create the password on macOS using Disk Utility. When connecting an APFS password-protected storage device, use the Files app to unlock the drive when prompted.

NOTE: Unlocking a LaCie storage device with a Seagate Secure password is currently unavailable. Seagate Secure can be temporarily disabled using Toolkit on a Mac or PC before connecting it to a supported iPad.

Toolkit and First Use Connections

Most LaCie storage devices are meant to be first connected to a computer in order to run the out-of-box registration and Toolkit installation. Please continue to first connect your storage device to a Mac or PC to register it and then download and install Toolkit. Once the registration is complete and Toolkit is installed, you can connect to a supported iPad.

Toolkit is not available for iPadOS or iOS.

Functions not available on an iPad and iPhone include:

  • Changing LED behavior
  • Adjusting drive security
  • Reformatting the drive
    Note: This is true for all formats except exFAT. Drives formatted as exFAT can be reformatted as exFAT. Apply a long tap on the drive in the Files app to see the option Erase. Choosing an Erase will delete all data on the drive.
  • Fixing volume errors (usually caused by disconnecting a drive while in use)