How To Download and See All Your Android Files
One of the many cool aspects of Android is the fact that you can access all aspects of the operating system. Unlike iOS, you can see all system files and have access to every file and folder on the device. If you’re new to the operating system and want to know how to upload, download and see all your Android files, this tutorial is for you.
Android has its own file manager but there are also third-party file managers to make life easier. Since the native file manager is a part of every Android device, we’ll use that in our examples.
How to see your Android files
The easiest way to see your Android files is to access device storage on the handset. There are two ways that you can do this: From the app drawer or from the Settings.
Access ‘My Files’ From the App Drawer
If you believe the best path is the one of least resistance, this is the method for you. Accessing all of the files on your Android device is really simple:
- Open your devices’ App drawer – Depending on the version of Android software you’re running you can click on the home screen icon that has several dots or you can swipe up on the screen.
- Use the search bar to quickly locate the ‘File Manager’ app.
- Or, locate it among your other apps and tap on it.
- Select the folders to access the files you’d like to view.
Access Files From the Settings
This method isn’t exactly the fastest way to get your files, but it does let you see various file types quickly.
- Navigate to Settings, Storage & USB, and Internal storage – Because the Settings vary depending on your manufacturer, use the search bar within ‘Settings’ and type ‘Storage’ to find it quickly.
- Select any one of the options that appear. For the purposes of this article, we’ll select ‘Images.’
- Browse the folders selecting the one you’d like to view.
Using a Computer
You can also view files while your phone is connected to your computer. This works on both Mac and Windows computers.
- Plug your Android phone into your computer with a USB cable.
- Set it for File Transfer if the cable doesn’t default to it. Wait for Windows to detect it.
- Open the phone in Windows Explorer and browser as you would any other hard drive.
Windows treats Android devices as external storage so you can drag, drop, add, move and delete files and folders as you see fit. The only limitation is that Android can only manipulate one file or folder at a time.
How Android Orders Files
While you can see and manipulate Android files in Explorer, the file system is not the same as in Windows. Device Storage is the internal memory of your device. Portable or SD Card is external storage, the SD card attached to your handset, if you have one installed.
The SD card can be configured to store images, videos, games and other data. Not all apps can be loaded onto an SD card so if something isn’t there check Device Storage.
Android core files will always be stored within Device Storage. Many apps, games and programs will also be stored there too. Within Device Storage you will see folders created by the Android OS.
DCIM is the camera and is where your images will be stored. By default this will be on Device Storage but can be configured to store on SD Card. Download should speak for itself, as should Movies, Music, Pictures and all the other folders.
If your device has an SD card it will appear beside Device Storage both on the phone and in Windows Explorer. You can browse and explore it in exactly the same way. In Windows 10 it may display as Card, External Storage, or SD Card depending on the card type and your phone.
You explore the SD Card the same as any Windows File. If you see a DCIM folder, it means your phone is configured to save images to the card instead of internal storage. The same for Music, Movies, Playlists, and other files. As mentioned, not all apps and files can be saved into external storage so you may not see everything you’re expecting.
Upload and Download Android Files
Now you know how to see your Android files, you should be able to move, add and change them too. Uploading and downloading Android files is just a matter of dragging and dropping them in Windows or selecting the menu option on your phone.
On an Android device:
- Navigate to Settings, Storage & USB, and Internal storage.
- Select the file or folder you want to move by pressing down on the icon and holding it until it says selected.
- Select ‘Move’ or ‘Copy’ from the bottom of the screen.
- Select the destination and confirm the move or copy.
Third party file managers
The Android file manager is quite capable but isn’t the easiest to use or to navigate. If you don’t like it much you can download and install third-party file managers from the Google Play Store. Search File Manager and choose an app you like the look of and that has good reviews. Download and install and then use as default. Most installation wizards take you through replacing the stock file manager so you will be in good hands.
Do you use a third party file manager for Android? Which do you use? Tell us about your experience below!