Android Mac

How to Transfer Files Between Android and Mac: 7 Easy Methods

Shubham Agarwal Updated 17-12-2018

Unlike Windows, macOS doesn’t let you natively browse the file system of your Android phone. Nor does its ad-hoc wireless service, AirDrop, work with Android phones.


This leaves you to rely on third-party options for transferring files between Android and macOS. Fortunately, a bunch of reliable third-party apps (including one from Google) fill the gap. Here are all the ways you can share files between a Mac and an Android phone.

1. Android File Transfer

Android File Transfer Mac App

Google’s own Android File Transfer tool is the quickest and the most hassle-free way for you to explore your phone’s files on a Mac. All you need to do is install the free app on your Mac and plug in the Android phone.

Android File Transfer will automatically detect the connection and show a window where you can transfer files back and forth, create or delete folders, and perform other’ file management tasks. You also don’t need to worry about installing any drivers since you’re using a Mac.

Download: Android File Transfer for Mac (Free)


2. Handshaker

Handshaker Android Demo

While Android File Transfer is the most straightforward solution, it has several reliability issues since Google hasn’t updated it in years.

To combat that, try Handshaker, a seamless file management Mac app for Android phones. Handshaker allows you to browse your phone’s storage when it’s plugged into your computer, and share files effortlessly between both devices. You can even go wireless by connecting to the same network, although this requires compromising on transfer bandwidth.

In addition, Handshaker lets you go through each category of files (such as photos and videos) individually so that they’re easier to find and transfer. All you need to do is install the Handshaker client on your Mac as well as your phone, and enable Android’s USB debugging option. Since Handshaker is not available on Google Play, you’ll need to sideload the app.


Download: Handshaker for Mac | Android [No Longer Available] (Free)

3. Commander One

Commander Pro Mac Demo

If you’re looking for a more professional tool for managing Android phones on a Mac, you should try Commander One.

Commander One comes with a sophisticated dashboard where you can perform a variety of actions, such as quickly copying large chunks of files, setting up an FTP server, instantly switching disks, and more. The app has a tabbed interface, letting you juggle between multiple storage drives with ease.


Plus, Commander One offers a wide selection of keyboard shortcuts you can customize per your preferences. This app, however, is not free. You can try it free for fifteen days to decide if it’s worth the cost to you.

Download: Commander One for Mac (Free trial, $30)

4. Pushbullet

Pushbullet brings features typically only available across Apple devices, like a universal clipboard, to Android. Plus, Pushbullet also allows you share files, browse your phone’s internal storage remotely on a computer, reply to SMS messages, and more. It’s the complete package.


Despite what you’d think, it’s also free (with some limitations). To set it up, sign up on the Pushbullet website with your Google or Facebook account. Install the app on your Android phone and all your other devices via desktop and browser clients. Once you’re signed in everywhere, you can easily send files, links, and more across every platform.

Download: Pushbullet for Mac | Android (Free, subscription available)

5. Portal by Pushbullet

Portal Pushbullet Demo

Pushbullet has another app called Portal for quick file sharing. However, this one only works for transferring content from your computer to your phone—not the other way around. The setup is simple and only requires you to scan a QR code on your phone.

Once that’s done, you’ve connected the devices, and you’re all set to send files from your Mac. The bandwidth is rather impressive, so unless you’re sending a huge file, it will only take a few seconds. On your desktop, Portal works through a browser, so you don’t need to install a new app.

Download: Portal by Pushbullet for Android (Free)
Visit: Portal by Pushbullet website

6. Send Anywhere

If you love the simplicity of Portal but want two-way transfers and a Mac app, we recommend Send Anywhere.

Send Anywhere functions similarly to Portal. You enter a code and the transfer begins over a Wi-Fi network. The difference is that it has a more comprehensive set of features, like the ability to quickly select images and videos, Wi-Fi Direct compatibility, and more.

Even better, you can also create links for files to share them with multiple devices. The free version of Send Anywhere comes with ad-supported design, but you can upgrade by paying a small fee.

Download: Send Anywhere for Android | Mac (Free, premium version available)

7. Cloud Storage Services

If you’re someone who only occasionally shares data between your computer and Android phone, you can probably rely on your preferred cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox. The process is quick and you don’t have to go through any configuration.

Plus, choosing this method won’t restrict your files to just a Mac and Android phone. You can access them from anywhere, no matter what device you’re on.

Pro tip: If it offers one, install your cloud service’s desktop backup tool. That way, your computer files are always available to download on your phone.

A More Connected Mac and Android Experience

All of these methods will let you easily share files between Android and macOS, both on wired and wireless connections. While Apple understandably hasn’t added any continuity features for Android like these, thankfully third-party developers have come forward and built several great options.

We’ve covered powerful apps for continuity between Android and macOS 7 Powerful Apps for Continuity Between Android and Mac Have a Mac and an Android phone? These apps let you connect them for a universal clipboard, file management, and more. Read More if you’d like more features like this.

Related topics: Android Apps, File Management, File Sharing, Mac Apps.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. thatmi
    December 28, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks!! After struggling with android tranfer, handshaker work on my macOS mojave. Look like it's not on google play so download the apk (I've made it with apkpure) and you're good to go

  2. Sam Hope
    July 10, 2018 at 10:47 am

    I am using a smarter app called Sally, you just drag and drop files to the window, and use your phone to scan the QRCode, and you see all your files there, download or upload, that's so easy. You don't even need Internet connection to use it.

  3. Louise E
    September 22, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Hi. I recently plugged my Huawei phone into my mac to charge it, and it asked me if I wanted to "allow" or "deny" access. I just clicked "allow" without thinking anything of it. I unplugged the phone when I left the office and when I went to look in my gallery later that day, all my photos and videos were gone. They were stored on my SD card and they're gone. I've checked my mac but they're not there either. Can you help???

  4. Sarah
    August 16, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Be careful when transferring files by selecting the folder and moving it over, I did this and then got distracted, left and when I came back to check my computer had the photos the folder was there but it was empty. I always check before deleting from either device.

    So the drag and drop of a folder doesn't work, so I tried to select all and I cannot do that! Can someone please tell me how to select all in Android File Transfer. Currently I have to hold CMD and individually select and this is too time consuming! The usual selection options don't work for me in AFT... there must be a better way??.. Help!

  5. H. Lee
    December 1, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    I was transferring files from my phone's /Download folder. After the the transfer, I tried deleting them from the phone and accidentally deleted the ENTIRE /Downloads FOLDER!
    I cant find an 'UNDO' option. Please, somebody, HELP! I had a VERY important file in there!

  6. Brianna
    October 25, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    I'm afraid I've lost all my pics...please tell me there's something I can do. I had the Android File Transfer app open on my Mac, and was deleting files, however, I accidentally deleted a file that contained ALL of my photos when I thought it only contained a few old ones I didn't want any longer. Once I unplugged my phone (Moto X 2nd gen), I realized all of my photos and vids were gone. Is there anything I can do to recover my photos??? I've tried different photo recovery tools from the google play store, but nothing from what I deleted has returned.

  7. Harvey Smith
    May 7, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Android File Transfer stopped working for me quite recently. I need help!!

    Keep in mind - I do NOT have WiFi availability where I live, so my MacBook Pro does not get any internet access.

    I live so far out in the country that I can't get cable, etc. But I can find some spots in my house where I can get a 4G network on my phone (I can't add HotSpot to my plan because my dad works for Verizon and well, long story, but we'll lose our awesome plan we currently have that we're grandfathered into).

    In order to not lose my mind completely while way out in the middle of nowhere, I download TV shows or movies onto my phone, then I transfer them via USB and Android File Transfer onto my computer. This has been no problem for years, but just last week, it completely stopped working.

    What Happens:

    I plug the phone in, the word Verizon + CD symbol appears in the device list in Finder. After a few seconds, it disappears, then Android File Transfer appears to open, but is immediately thwarted by an error message, rendering it inaccessible. The message claims that I need to unlock my screen, but my screen is unlocked!

    Troubleshooting Steps I've Already Taken (sometimes multiple times):

    - Restarted both phone and computer.
    - Tried different USB cables.
    - Tried different USB ports.
    - Made sure my android software was up-to-date.
    - MTP is selected.
    - PTP functions through Image Capture, but only pictures may be transferred.
    - Made sure that USB debugging is selected in Developer settings.
    - Put both computer and android device in Safe Mode.
    - Uninstalled and reinstalled Android File Transfer (I am visiting my parents an hour away from my home today in an attempt to resolve this, they have WiFi).

    None of these attempts have fixed the issue.

    First, the computer sees that I've connected the phone (it's listed in devices in the finder window), then it suddenly disappears from that list and the AFT app opens but is immediately frozen by an error message claiming my screen is locked.

    Device: Samsung Galaxy S5, completely up-to-date
    Computer: Mac OSX Version 10.9.5 Maverick (can't go much higher, I have a 2011 computer).

    And again, this was working find until last week when no new changes took place on either device. Also, please keep in mind that if you're able to help with more suggestions, I may not be around any WiFi (therefore my computer won't be able to be online at all) if your response is not within 24 hours of my post.

    I hope this was sufficient information. Thank you so, so much in advance. I am hoping for only helpful responses, no judgement on the fact that I have an S5 or a 2011 machine or that I don't have HotSpot. Just simple help with this specific issue would be so wonderful.

    Thanks, again!!

  8. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 11:55 am

    In the case you need just quickly push your photos from phone to PC/Mac/Tablet/whatever having internet best solution in my opinion is - it's free and handy.

  9. Anonymous
    July 18, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    I still do not get how to actually get my pictures from my phone on to my MacBook Air. I have the Android file transfer and I get the screen you show above when I plug it in, however how do I make the pictures magically move over to be saved on my Mac? I have tried and failed multiple times. Please please please give me a dummies version!!

  10. Anonymous
    July 15, 2015 at 7:06 am

    I use MobiKin Assistant for Android to help me manage and transfer data from Android to pc.

  11. Jen
    May 19, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Android File Transfer is pretty nifty! However, the moment your folder gets too large, the file transfer app won't access it! Under DCIM on my android, I have over 2000 plus pictures. So whenever I tried to access that file, an error message pops up! However, it was great when I want to send files to the device. Very quick and can transfer as many GB as possible as long as your device has space. :))

    • Justin Pot
      May 19, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Yeah there's certainly room for improvement here I feel.

    • Rebecca
      April 25, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      I encountered the same problem with DCIM folder. How did you solve it?

  12. Karen
    May 4, 2015 at 5:03 am

    I got AFT to work fairly easily between my iMac and Note4, and I am quite the novice. However, it only transferred 300 photos and I have 618 total. (I realize there is a 4gb limit so I guess I went over) There doesn't seem to be any order to the ones transferred so I am wondering, shall I open up the camera and highlight the first 300 photos and transfer and then do it again for the last 300? Or do you have another suggestion? I tried Image Capture, iPhoto and Preview to try a direct transfer but they didn't see my phone. Thanks

    • Justin Pot
      May 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      I'm afraid I can't help you, I don't know why that would happen. If you can browse your device and find your photos, that should be all of your photos. Sorry.

    • Justin Pot
      May 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Might I recommend trying out Dropbox or BitTorrent Sync for your photos?

  13. Manuel
    April 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Sorry, when I said "Explorer" I meant "Finder". My years of Windows user cannot be left behind still evidently...

  14. Manuel
    April 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Very interesting article. The DroidNas workoaround gets the SD in the Explorer allright, but I had many problems copying and moving files inside the card from my Mac.
    The ES Explorer works perfect in this sense, but I still wish I could organize my SD Card from my Mac. One question: Finder asks for user name and password when trying to reach the "server". The only way I can move on is with the "guest" option. I tried inside DroidNas with "Limit access to device" setting up a name and pass with no luck. Any ideas?
    Thanks for your article

    • Justin Pot
      April 16, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      I'm honestly not sure about getting the password functionality to work, or if it's still even supported at this point. Sorry.

  15. Christoph Bosch
    April 13, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    works fine, thanks !

  16. Christoph Bosch
    April 12, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Every time I connect my Samsung S4 mini to the IMac (OsX 10.10) I get the message " no connection possible" when using Android File Transfer. Deconnection and restart: same result.

  17. RH
    April 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I haven't been able to use AFT since the update to 5.1 recently!! I've tried every USB cable I have too, no deal. AirDroid is my next goto on the Mac but is slow though a nice graphical interface.

  18. Christopher Heckman
    April 5, 2015 at 5:45 am

    AFT works great for me; however, my cell phone battery needs to be replaced after 9 months. I'm wondering whether the battery automatically gets charged when I hook my MacBook up to my SmartPhone.

    Is there any way to keep Android File Transfer from recharging the battery on my SmartPhone?

    • Justin Pot
      April 6, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      This isn't a function of Android File Transfer, which is a piece of software – it's a hardware function of USB. When you plug a USB device into a USB port, it charges. I'm not sure how to avoid this, sorry.

    • Christopher Heckman
      April 7, 2015 at 5:24 am

      @ Justin Pot: That's okay. Your response narrows down where I need to look to fix the problem.

    • Justin Pot
      April 7, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Here's hoping you solve it!

  19. Manda
    March 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    And eeek, if I use DroidNas on a public network (like at my office), that means my coworkers can have access to my phone? Yikes!

    • Justin Pot
      March 4, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Yeah, there's no security options either. This is a solution best used at home.

  20. Manda
    March 4, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    I have Android File Transfer... I used to be able to move files around, but now I can't seem to... I can't drag the files into a folder on my desktop. Not sure exactly why it's called "File transfer" if I can't transfer any files. :(

    • Justin Pot
      March 4, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      That's weird that it stopped working, can't explain why sorry. :(

  21. Chris m
    February 17, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Thanks for your response. On the tablet itself I believe 8gb. But an SD card of 32 GB is added to it with only 3 movies on it of about 800 mb each.

    • Justin Pot
      February 17, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      If you have an SD card, it might be best to transfer larger files directly to that. Sorry I can't be more help!

  22. chris m
    February 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Hi i downloaded android file transfer on a friends mac to transfer movies over. i was able to transfer 3 movies 1.0gb and under but when i tried to tranfer larger files a pop up comes up says cannot copy file over. so i assumed it was the files size to be the issue. i tried a smaller 700mb file and it worked so i tried another movie file same size and it failed. can you guys help me out?

    • Justin Pot
      February 16, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      There is a built-in limit for files: nothing over 4GB can transfer, apparently. It doesn't sound like you've hit that limit though, do you know how much room there is on the phone itself?

  23. Nitin K.
    February 11, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    If you're using a Sony Phone, you can also install Sony Bridge and just access your device from there.
    Also on other phones you can mount them as a Mass Storage and then the phone when connected will auto mount the memory card as a drive in Finder. Pretty basic stuff.

  24. Scott
    February 4, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Android File Transfer "can't connect" to my Galaxy S5 phone. I'm running Mavericks, a fresh d/l of AFT, and using the USB 2/3 cable that came with my phone. Any ideas why this isn't working?

  25. Andy
    October 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    For photos I use the camera upload funktion in dropbox. Works really well. I havet set a rsync script to sync the photofiles from dropbox to an other folder and then remove the files from dropbox. That way dropbox wont get flooded.

  26. Nikhil
    October 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Shareit from lenevo is pretty good app too.
    Supports contacts, apps, media and any type of file with wifi (direct connection) speeds.

    • Justin Pot
      October 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      I've never seen this one, looks like there's no Mac version though. Great for everyone else!

  27. Den Eng
    October 15, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Dropbox is my go-to for quick file transfers, since it doesn't require a cable, and allows for more flexibility - since you can also access your files from dropbox anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.

    Nice to see that I'm not the only one who uses this little workaround for file transfers between my android and mac!

    I also use bluetooth if I am feeling courageous, but it's so slow.. and the connection sometimes fails. dropbox is more reliable for what I need.

    • Justin Pot
      October 18, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Dropbox is really simple for this if you already have it set up, that's for sure. For longer transfers, I get out a cable.

  28. Shivank Gandhi
    October 15, 2014 at 5:24 am

    Another great and simple to use tool is FileDrop Just need to be on the same WiFi network and you're done.


  29. ptrix
    October 14, 2014 at 5:56 am

    every time i try to use Android File Transfer to connect my Android phone to my mac (10.9.5), it never seems to work. would anyone happen to have any solutions about that?

    • Justin Pot
      October 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      Hey, do you get any error messages? Or does it simply not show up? What version of Android are you using? Let me know and I'll see what I can figure out.

  30. Mario G
    October 13, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I like the article and will be sure to use some of them just to get a hang of them. Yet I believe you've missed Send-Anywhere as a simple option to Transfer files across OS's, be it Mac, Windows, Linux or Mobile OS.

    • Justin Pot
      October 14, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Send Anywhere looks like another solid option, thanks for bringing it up!