Stash: All-in-one Private Browser & File Manager for iPad

In case you still haven’t noticed, the iPad has no default file manager. Apple decided to hide the entire filesystem on it (and on the iPhone, way back in 2007), and they’ll keep rolling with their decision for quite a while, I guess. Apps are the new folders, each app database a file manager. iFiles, 1Password, Gusto, Fast PDF: if you want files on them, you either import them from the cloud (Dropbox, anyone?) or transfer them using iTunes.

Now, if you’re a Mac user I guess you’re pretty used to hearing the term “anything bucket”. As explained by Shawn Blanc, an anything bucket like Yojimbo is an application capable of capturing every bit of information and store stuff in a single place. A place that you can organize with tags, albums, smart albums and user-based criteria. On iOS such a thing is not possible: there’s no way to quickly send data to other applications, not until Apple implements a proper services menu. As things stand now, you can forget about having stuff like OmniFocus’ quick entry panel or Yojimbo’s capture shortcut on the iPhone.

Still, developers are trying to build something similar to what we have on OS X. Stash is a new iPad app by Hedonic Software that can collect any kind of file and even lets you create multiple libraries, either public or private ones.

Stash is available in 3 different versions in the App Store (Media, File and Pro) but I’m taking a look at Stash Pro here. Stash can import files via iTunes’ File Sharing, but it also comes with a built-in browser that can pull items from the internet and place them directly into your Library. Sadly, there’s no MobileMe or Dropbox support - I really wish the developers will implement that in future versions.

By default, files go into the Library - but you can have two kinds of libraries: Public and Private. Stash, indeed, is meant for enabling you to hide stuff you don’t want others to see - I didn’t use the Public option at all. You can assign a password to the Library (like 1Password) or activate the Boss Button feature: this is neat. Basically, with a four-finger tap gesture you can hide / show the Library (a Google Map pops in - sweet) or show the password field if you tap anywhere while in Public mode within 10 seconds after launch. Stash is the perfect app to hide files on your iPad, and the Private / Public feature is just great.

As for file support, I’ve tried hard to break the app and throw some unsupported documents in - but I failed. Stash seems to support any kind of files, from .webarchive and .PDF to .pages and .zip. Archives are expanded in-app, movies play just fine. You can create folders and sub-folders, smart albums (just like on Mac OS X there are multiple criteria to choose from) and move files around between them. You can sort items by title, type, rating and view count.

Available at $3.99 in the App Store, Stash Pro is a great way to manage different type of files on your iPad, view them and hide them. It’s got a built-in browser, a nice UI and an interesting smart albums feature. Recommended.

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