Matthew Lindfield Seager

Matthew Lindfield Seager

Files App on iOS/iPadOS is not limited by Screen Time restrictions or Downtime

After doing some research today it seems there is no way to block the Files app using Apple’s Screen Time settings. Even when the entire device is locked at Downtime, there is no way to block the Files app. Chlidren can therefore use the Files app at any time of the day or night to:

  • Listen to audio files
  • View images
  • Read PDFs and text files
  • View Excel, PowerPoint and Word files
  • Preview contents of Zip files

I suspect this also means that time in the Files app isn’t tracked as part of the Screen Time time limits.

Some restrictions still apply despite this fairly large loophole:

  • Videos can’t be watched; “You’ve reached your limit on Entertainment” (even if you try and cheat by choosing the “Trim” option to edit rather than view or if you put it in a Zip file and preview the contents of the Zip 👍)
  • iWork files can’t be previewed unless their corresponding app is Always Allowed; “You’ve reached your limit on Keynote”
  • Anything that can’t be “Quick Looked” (previewed) in Files can’t be viewed (ePubs, Google Sheets/Slides/Docs/Sites, etc)

This seems like a pretty big gap in Screen Time to me. If you care about this and happen to know anyone at Apple you can prod, I’ve filed Feedback 11953747.