Managing Files on Android: 7 Essential Tips You Need to Know

Abhishek Kurve 23-01-2018

Dealing with files on your Android phone or tablet can be intimidating, especially since there are several file transfer standards and dozens of different apps for file management.


Do you find yourself overwhelmed by all the different Android file management options? Or are you just not sure where to get started?

Don’t worry. Today we’ll go over everything you need to know about file management on Android, including the best apps for managing files and how to transfer files seamlessly to other devices.

1. Utilize the Built-In Android File Manager

Android got a native file manager in Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It’s pretty barebones, but it gets the job done for basic file management.

Here’s how to access it on your stock Android device running 6.0 Marshmallow or higher.

Built-in android file manager


Open Settings > Storage & memory. Here, you should see what files are hogging up space on your device. You should see a visual breakdown of your device’s storage into various categories like Apps, Images, Video, Audio, Cached data, etc.

To access the traditional Android file manager, scroll down and tap Explore. Switch to the Storage tab. You should see various partitions such as internal storage, external storage (if your phone supports SD card or USB OTG), and Google Drive.

You can tap on a particular item to cut, copy, delete, share or perform other file manipulation operations.

If your phone is running Android 8.0 Oreo 9 Security Reasons You Should Upgrade to Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo improved the security of the operating system by leaps and bounds -- and that means you need to upgrade. Read More , the location of the file manager is different. Open the Downloads app from the app drawer. Tap the three-dot overflow menu button and select Show internal storage. Here, you can manage your files and perform file manipulation operations such as cut, copy, delete, share, etc.


Note that if your device is not running stock Android, the built-in file manager might look pretty different. Some manufacturers, like Samsung, include their own file managers with their modified versions of Android.

2. Use Third-Party File Managers for Extra Functionality

While the native Android file manager works great for basic file operations, it lacks advanced features. If you’re looking to do more with your files, a third-party file manager is what you need.

Here are some of our favorite third-party file managers for Android.

Solid Explorer

solid explorer android file manager


Solid Explorer is a powerful file manager wrapped with the beautiful material design. It features a dual-pane setup, rich customization options, and supports various network protocols like FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, etc.

For the uninitiated, FTP lets you host files in one location and access them from anywhere FTP Transfer: 3 Popular File Managers for Android With FTP Software FTP may sound intimidating, but it's not! We can help you learn how to quickly and easily share files between your devices with these handy Android apps. Read More . Perhaps the best thing about Solid Explorer is that it supports extensions, so you can extend its functionality.

Download: Solid Explorer (Pro version, 14-day free trial)

ES File Explorer

ES file explorer android file manager


ES File Explorer has lately faced criticism for its heavy advertising nature and unnecessary bloatware. While it’s true to some extent, there’s no denying that the once-favorite file manager still comes with a powerful set of features.

It boasts of real-time search, built-in support for compression and encryption, and remote file management using FTP. Read more about why ES File Explorer is the best Android file manager 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 .

Download: ES File Explorer (Free with ads, $2.99 for Pro) [No Longer Available]

If you’re still looking for more options, you can read our picks for the best file manager apps for Android The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android Looking for the best file manager apps for Android? Here are the top Android file browsers you should try. Read More .

3. Transfer Files Between Android Phone and PC

Now that we have seen various apps for on-device file management, here’s how to simplify file transfers between your Android phone and your computer.

Transfer Files With a USB Cable

USB cable for android file management

This one is fairly obvious, but it’s still pretty reliable. Simply connect your phone by plugging it via USB to your computer. Unlock your device and tap the “USB for…” notification. Select Transfer Files. A file transfer window should pop up on your computer. You can now transfer files seamlessly.

If you’re using a Mac, you need to download Android File Transfer first. Then connect your phone by plugging it into your Mac. Android File Transfer should launch automatically. Unlock your Android device. You should be able to transfer files back and forth between your Mac and your Android device. If for some reason it doesn’t work for you, here are some alternatives to Android File Transfer Move Files from Mac to Android Without Android File Transfer If you need to transfer files between your Android device and Mac computer, these tools make it quick and easy. Read More you can check out.

Transfer Files Using Bluetooth

Bluetooth for android file management

Bluetooth transfer can be pretty slow, but it’s always nice to have a quick, easy wireless option.

Start by pairing your Android device with your PC How to Set Up Bluetooth for a Windows 7 PC Need to use Bluetooth with Windows 7? Here's how to set up Bluetooth, make devices discoverable, and pair them to your PC. Read More or your Mac Bluetooth Not Available? Troubleshooting Mac Connectivity Issues Devices won't pair, speakers don't work, or files won't transfer? Here's what to do when your Mac is having Bluetooth issues. Read More . To transfer a file, just hit the Share button inside any file manager app and select the paired computer from the list.

USB On-the-Go

USB cable for android file management

Most Android phones these days support USB On-the-Go What Is USB OTG? 5 Cool Ways to Use It on Android What is USB OTG and how can you use it on Android? We explain the feature and the many ways to utilize it. Read More . USB OTG lets your Android device read data from a USB connection without requiring a PC. This essentially means that you can connect a USB flash drive 5 of the Fastest and Best USB 3.0 Flash Drives Which are the fastest USB 3.0 flash drives you can buy? Here are five of the best, ranging from $20 to $200. Read More or a portable hard drive The 8 Best Portable Hard Drives You Can Buy Right Now Read More directly to your Android phone and transfer files easily.

To check if your device supports USB OTG, you can download this free app called USB OTG Checker. Alternatively, you can check the device specifications on the manufacturer’s website.

Transfer Files Using AirDroid

AirDroid for android file management

If you don’t like fumbling around with USB cables, you can transfer files remotely using AirDrop. To begin, download AirDroid on your Android device and your desktop. After you sign up for a free account, you can easily transfer files to nearby devices and other registered devices. You can transfer files remotely even when the devices aren’t connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Download: AirDroid for Android (Free) | AirDroid Desktop Client (Free)

4. Browse Your Files Remotely From Anywhere

Until now, we’ve seen how to manually transfer files between your computer and your Android phone. But what if you forget an important file on your work computer, and have no physical access to the computer? How do you remotely access a file stored on your computer?

access android files remotely

Pushbullet provides an easy solution. Pushbullet’s Remote Files feature lets you access your files remotely from anywhere. To get started, download Pushbullet and sign up for a free account. Head over to Pushbullet’s support page for instructions on how to enable Remote Files.

Download: Pushbullet (Free)

5. Transfer Files Between Android Devices Using Files Go

Late last year, Google launched Files Go Google's New Files Go App: Everything You Need to Know Files Go is the new file explorer direct from Google -- so how is it? Read More , its very own file manager app aimed at lower-end smartphones. Its primary focus is to make file storage management easier 7 Essential Google Drive Storage Tips You Should Read Again You might not know everything about Google Drive. These seven essential Google Drive tips should help you squeeze every benefit out of the productivity suite. Read More , but it also comes with a nifty feature to transfer files securely without the internet.

To use it, both the Android devices should have Files Go installed.

transfer android files

To send a file, switch to the Files tab and tap on Send. If you’re using it for the first time, tap Allow to grant the required permissions and enable Allow modify system settings. Enter your name and tap Next. The setup is now complete.

Ask your friend to open the app and tap Receive. It creates a secure Bluetooth connection to let you share files quickly. It might take a while to transfer the file to the other device, depending on the file size.

Note that you can alternatively use AirDroid and Pushbullet to transfer files between Android devices.

Download: Files Go (Free)

6. Transfer Files From Android to iPhone Using ShareIT

transfer android files to ios

ShareIT has been the go-to app for sharing files between Android and iOS devices for a while now. It doesn’t require an active internet connection, but it requires both devices to be connected to the same WiFi network. It utilizes a feature called Wi-Fi Direct The Differences Between Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi Direct You Need To Know If you take a peek into the future, it's hard not to envision an always-on society that features a multitude of connected devices that work in unison to make your life more convenient. Read More for blazing fast transfer speeds.

Download: ShareIT for Android (Free) | ShareIT for iOS (Free)

Alternatively, you can also use Send Anywhere to share files between Android and iOS devices.

7. Automatically Sync Your Files Across Several Devices

Do you have some important files on your Android that you want to keep up-to-date always, across all your devices?

Enter Resilio Sync.

share and sync android files

Resilio Sync lets you sync all your files/folder across your phone, computer, and NAS. Every time you make changes to a file, it instantly syncs the changes seamlessly across all your registered devices. It also features a proprietary file transfer service that the company claims “skips the cloud and finds the shortest distance between devices.”

Download: Resilio Sync ($59.99, business plans start at $29/mo)

It even has bandwidth usage controls so that you don’t go overboard with your data limit 4 Ways to Reduce Your Mobile Internet Data Usage with Android Apps You can reduce your mobile data usage without doing anything differently on your Android device -- just use these apps! Read More .

File Management on Android Made Easy

We hope that this easy-to-follow guide has helped you understand file management better on your Android device. With a wide variety of apps and services to choose from, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

What do you think of the tips and apps mentioned above? Did we miss out on your favorite app that simplifies file management on Android?

Related topics: Android, File Explorer, File Management.

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

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  1. Tony Karakashian
    January 29, 2018 at 2:36 am

    Almost with the last one. Syncthing for free instead. I sync my phone's entire internal storage to my desktop while I'm plugged in and on my home WiFi.

    When I want to clear off my phone, I just move the files out of the synced directory to my desktop's pictures directory. Syncthing sees this as a delete, and deletes the images from my phone. Easy peasy, squeeze the lemon.