The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android

Dan Price 12-01-2016

One of the best things about Android is the ability to quickly and easily navigate through your device’s file system. While Apple’s iPhones and iPads don’t come with any built-in way to view and manage your files, many Android devices do.


Still, there are alternate file explorer apps that offer even greater functionality. So which should you download? There are so many to choose from, and these days, most of them offer far more than simple file navigation.

Here we take a look at some of the best file explorer apps for your Android device.

1. X-plore File Manager


X-plore File Manager might have the look of an early 1990s Windows program, but it’s hands-down one of the best file explorers available. 88,000 five-star ratings from a little over 100,000 reviews prove it.

Instead of trying to fancy up and adhere to the new Material Design philosophy, X-plore puts functionality firmly at the top of its agenda. It works by splitting the screen in two and putting a file on each side, with an array of buttons down the center that allow you to copy, paste, cut, move, etc.


The beauty of this that you can easily copy between folders on your device but also between your device and external storage locations. The app supports Google Drive The Only Google Drive Guide You'll Ever Need to Read Google Drive is the perfect combination of online file storage and document management tools. We explain how to best use Google Drive on- and offline, by yourself and in collaboration with others. Read More , Dropbox,, Amazon Cloud Drive, OneDrive, WebDAV, Yandex.disk, MediaFire, and Picasa, among many more. You can also explore FTP, SMB, SQLite, ZIP, RAR, 7zip, and DLNA/UPnP locations.

It will also let you explore root files without rooting your device, has a hex viewer, and has a built-in viewer for videos, pictures, and audio files.

Download it for: Dual pane, syncing with third-party services.

2. AndroXplorer File Manager [No Longer Available]



AndroXplorer File Manager’s visuals mimic what you might expect to see on an open-source operating system 3 UNIX-Like Operating Systems That Aren't Linux Recently, people started to confuse "UNIX" with "Linux." Linux was influenced by UNIX, but UNIX systems have no relation to Linux. Here are some important UNIX-based systems worth knowing about. Read More , but it’s highly functional.

You’re presented with a number of folders when you fire up the app, and they give you a way to access your device’s file system, its SD card, your apps, your servers, and your system, along with providing you with a recycle bin.

The app itself supports advanced multiple-view file browsing, favorite folders, shortcuts, thumbnails, and swipe-to-navigate file management.

Download it for: Functionality melded with simplicity.


3. FX File Explorer

FX File Explorer blows AndroExplorer and X-plore out of the water in terms of design, but it’s nowhere near as feature-rich as either of them.

Although it comes complete with external media and root capabilities, you need to pay extra if you want network (FTP, SFTP, SMB, WebDAV) and cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box, SugarSync) capabilities. Even the root explorer requires an (albeit free) add-on.

Nonetheless, it’s a great option for people who don’t want complexity and just need a nice-looking, simple, and easy-to-navigate explorer.

Download it for: Seriously good design.


4. OI File Manager

OI File Manager is the only open-source option on our list. Impressively, it’s also ad-free.

The app will let you do all the typical file management operations, such as browsing your SD card, creating directories, renaming files, coping files, moving files, and deleting files.

The app can also act as an extension for other services on your device. For example, it can work with Gmail to allow you to attach files to emails and can display “Open” and “Save” dialogues within other productivity apps.

It has an impressive 4.2 stars from 50,000+ reviews.

Download it for: Open-source and ad-free.

5. ASTRO File Manager

ASTRO File Manager has been designed with the principle of easy organization of pictures, videos, and audio files as its main selling point.

Its interface is clear and intuitive, and navigating between internal memory, external memory, and other content such as podcasts, ringtones, and downloads is fast and easy.

Features of the app include Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive synchronization, easy social media cache management, and the ability to access other locations that are on the same network.

Aside from just file management, the app backup, process management, and microSD card features are also particularly useful, and these give ASTRO a clear edge over some of its more mainstream rivals.

Download it for: Organizing your media.

6. Total Commander

Total Commander will no doubt be familiar to a lot of desktop users — it’s been a popular third party tool for file exploring on Windows since its initial release way back in 1993 (it was formerly called Windows Commander).

The app has a nice range of navigation tools beyond the typical cut, copy, and paste. For example, it can support bookmarks and file packaging, and it has the ability to add customized buttons to the toolbar so you can fine-tune it to your own needs.

Features include the ability to copy and move whole subdirectories, a built-in text editor, a way to send files via Bluetooth, support for ZIP files, and plugins for FTP/SFTP clients, WebDAV, and LAN access.

Download it for: Customization.

7. Solid Explorer ($1.99)

We know this is a list of “free” apps, but Solid Explorer is one of the few paid-for file explorers that’s really worth the money.

It adopts the same approach as X-plore, with two separate windows that each act as standalone file explorers. Unlike X-plore, however, it supports drag-and-drop between the two windows, thus making organization a breeze.

It’s also beautifully designed, having been recently reimagined in the Material Design mould.

It terms of features, it can read and extract encrypted ZIP, 7zip, RAR, and TAR archives, it can explore root files, it syncs with all the popular cloud services, and it will provide you with detailed storage usage statistics.

They offer a free 14-day trial if you don’t want to jump straight in.

Download it for: Best all-round app.

A Note About ES File Explorer

1.5 million five-star reviews and 300,000,000+ downloads makes ES File Explorer the theoretical top dog in the file explorer wars.

However, the app has changed beyond all recognition in the last year or so, causing a lot of people to dump it. The free version has been pumped full of bloatware How to Remove Bloatware on Android Without Rooting Did your phone come with a bunch of crappy apps pre-installed? Let us show you how to get rid of them the easy way. Read More , and it endlessly nags you to download additional apps via notification bar pop-ups.

Instead of being one of the most respected names in the sector, it’s rapidly becoming one of the most reviled. Our advice? You’re best avoiding it. But if you’re willing to put up with all of that, ES File Explorer has a lot of great features ES File Explorer: Is It the Best File Manager for Android? Is EF File Explorer the best option for viewing and managing the files on your Android device? Read More .

Which File Explorer Do You Use?

Would you recommend any of the options on our list? Or have you tried any of them and decided they weren’t for you?

Most importantly, which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.

Related topics: File Explorer, File Management.

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  1. Michael
    April 6, 2018 at 9:04 am

    x-plorer used to allow exploring of root file system without rooting but I just downloaded it now in April 2018 and it does not allow this feature anymore! Is there another root file explorer that doesn't require rooting the device with the same features for free or should I just suck it up and pay for ES file explorer?!

  2. José Campos
    November 9, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    ES is no longer a valid option. So I use the manager that came with my Galaxy. Recently I downloaded "File Viewer for Anfroid". This is a very simple app but is a universal file viewer, that supports over 100 file types. With both I am doing what ESFE was doing until some 2-3 years ago.

  3. J Campos
    November 9, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    I used Es File Explorer for years but, as said before, it is no longer a valid choice. No credit about what it is doing. So I stay for the manager that came with my Galaxy 5 and recently downloaded "File Viewer for Android". This is a very simple app but is a universal file viewer that supports more than 100 file types. With both I got some of what ESFE was 2-3 years ago.

  4. Viccy
    June 6, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    As for me, Power Grasp (archiver & file manager) & Total Commander are the best of the best!

  5. russ
    February 3, 2017 at 11:23 am

    x-plore was an instant hit with me. Cheers Dan!
    My main use is copying files via wifi from my home server.

    I too loved ES File Explorer - why didn't they branch the basic tool? I've dumped it from all my devices.

  6. Russell Wilson
    February 2, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I too was ticked off by some of the developments with ES File Explorer, so I tried several of those mentioned here. Strangely, the almost infinite customization of the UI I found appealingly different, but without it taking away from the ease of use -- for several of the others mentioned here I had so much more trouble finding a file, and moving it to precisely where I wanted -- something X-Plore makes unbelievably difficuilt!! So, I'm still looking for a lite weight app -- installed on my phone ES takes up nearly 30Mb -- an unacceptable burden on my cheaper standby phone, whereas X-Plore takes up only 8Mb -- but is nowhere near as easy to use.

  7. Ane
    January 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I actuallly barely used a file manager - the only one was quickpic and that's 1-2 years ago. I recognized that I don't really need it as long as I keep my files "tidy and clean". However, "tidy and clean" was really tough though, because when I signed up on Instagram I took so many selfies, which I actually barely deleted, once they were taken.
    A friend of mine recommended rat pack challenge to sort out my pictures better and it really worked for me.

    Long story short: if you don't feel like using a file manager app, try to keep your files cleaned up or try the rat pack challenge, like I did :-)

  8. Anonymous
    January 19, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I'm using File Manager HD to my great satisfaction. Doesn't mean I'm not gonna try some of the ones mentioned here...

    • Anonymous
      January 20, 2016 at 2:53 am

      2nd vote for File Manager HD.

    • zoe2016
      January 31, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Simply try this AirMore app (

  9. Arnie
    January 19, 2016 at 12:43 am

    I found Solid Explorer several years ago and tried the evaluation version. After a week, I paid my $1.99 - happily. Of course, I tried a few other file managers over the years and found a couple of nice apps but never found any real competition.

    It's a great product.

  10. Paul Someson
    January 18, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    I have a nextbook tablet and I use ASTRO File Manager and I am pleased with it. It is easy to use and allows me to move files from my tablet to the cloud with ease.

  11. Anonymous
    January 18, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    I started with a DOS computer & X-Tree. When I got Winders ÷) I used Windows Commander. Now, with my Galaxy Note I'm enjoying Total Commander with all the features it has. There's even a built in media player.

    The nice thing is that all the keyboard shortcuts still work throughout all the different iterations, even from X-Tree which was not from Ghisler.

    I highly recommend this file manager. It does have a high learning curve, but it's worth sticking with it. It's all you need.

  12. Anonymous
    January 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I had been using Astro File Manager. it is a basic file manager that doesn't have all the bells and whistes that other File Manager apps have and works well.

    I then tried ES File Explore because it was very popular. I see that it clutter with features not related to file management, so I ditched it.

    Now I am using X-Plore file manager. I like that is has built in Wi-fi File Manager so I don't have to use a separate app and a disk analyzer.

    • Anonymous
      January 18, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      Forgot: it also has plugins for all the popular clouds, so you can manage them as well from the same interface.

  13. koolbluez
    January 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Amaze amazed me.

  14. Anonymous
    January 12, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    I'm still using ES File Explorer. Actually, I'm using ES File Explorer Pro. Yep, I paid some cash. I figure that I got sooooooo many years of an amazing program from them for free that even though they were doing a couple of things that were a little "iffy", I would buy the pro version.

    And, I really do like it. Regardless though the few bucks I paid versus YEARS of use of an awesome file explorer seems like a great deal. And, the right thing to do by rewarding someone that has given me a great tool for a long time for free.

    • Don Gateley
      January 13, 2016 at 9:21 pm


    • Anonymous
      January 19, 2016 at 6:25 am

      I would've paid them if they added new features in paid version instead of pumping bloats and ads in free and paid essentially removing those stuffs.
      They force the UI for free users too, which is ridiculous.

      If they did the justice with pricing, I'd stick with it. Heck even making few features paid made more sense than bloats and ads.

  15. Anonymous
    January 12, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    I'm using ES for 4 years. I also heard about security issues. I tried many file explorer in the last 2 months.

    I'm satisfied these apps:
    - Explorer (from Speed Software): There is paid version of "Root Explorer" too. What I like: tabbed version (option of new tab for dedicated locations), cloud support (G-Drive, Box, Dropbox), very few permission, small size, fast and simple. What I don't like: files and folders mixed (I prefer folder first than files), lack of "New tab for USB external".
    - Amaze File Manager: What I like: open source, fast and simple, customization. What I don't like: only 2 "tab", lack of cloud, material design (because everything is big).
    - FX File Explorer: What I like: "multi windows" option, fast, customization. What I don't like: same icon for "media cards", jump to "first window" after video or picture viewing, lack of cloud (after trial period), many bloatware.

  16. Anupam Sarkar
    January 12, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    What about cabinet? I've been using it on my Mototrola for quite sometime now and I love it!

    • Anonymous
      January 12, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      There isn't option to multiple window/tab. Copy or move files are hard pain between very different folders (e.g. different storage). This is very essential for me.

  17. Anonymous
    January 12, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Yeah, ES is one of the only file managers I've tried that lets me do things like open a video file over SMB to Bubble UPNP to play on a Chromecast. Even in the newest version you can turn off most of the offensive bloat, except for the in-line "junk files" thing in the home screen which is a bummer.

  18. Bambam
    January 12, 2016 at 5:08 pm
  19. Anonymous
    January 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Use an old version of ES File Explorer.

    There a small number of Android applications I prefer not to change. After I saw the "junk cleanup" BS in ES File Explorer, I grabbed the 18 month old un-updated .APK for it that's been working fine on my Fire HDX and reverted all my devices to that. I'm fine with just not updating that app ever again.

    The ability to browse SMB/NFS shares plus fairly universal cloud storage access in multiple accounts from multiple providers is a good enough reason to stick with the tool I like.

    I went through something similar with BeyondPod.

    • Anonymous
      January 12, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      I agree with this. The recommended apps part of ES can be avoided; you encounter it only when you click a specifically marked floating icon on the home screen only. The junk cleanup feature is actually useful as it deletes orphaned folders left behind my apps no longer on the device. I've never seen a pop-up, but that may be because my phone is rooted and I run AdAway to block ads.

      The Pro version is pretty inexpensive if you want to avoid the recommendations.

      But really what keeps with ES is the sheer number of features it has. Nothing else comes close. Hell, you can even browse Windows 10 network shares from the app.

    • Tasneem
      February 15, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      I would like the 18 month old un-updated es file explorer apk, or can you tell me where you donwloaded it from? I've been with this explorer for the whole time, and all my family also use this explorer. I can try out the others, but why bother if I can get the best one?

    • v1adimir
      October 28, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      Ghost Commander has that plugin, also, not sure why it's not on the list here!..