There are a number of reasons you may need to transfer files from your Android device to your PC or Mac. Perhaps you'd like to back up photos in order to clear up storage space or move music to your desktop that you downloaded on your phone.
Because of the open and transparent nature of Android, there are many, many ways to do it. You can use a USB cable, or a third-party app, or even take advantage of a local wireless connection. With so many different options, it's not always immediately clear which one you should go for, so we're here to show you the five easiest ways to transfer your files from an Android phone to a Windows PC or a Mac.
1. USB cable
Using the USB cable that came with your smartphone is probably the easiest way to connect to your computer. You may need a different one if your phone has the newer USB Type-C-to-Type-C cable and your desktop or laptop doesn’t have a USB-C port, but if this isn't an issue, the bundled charging cable should be all you need to move files between the two devices. The transfer speed will depend on the type of cable and storage you have on both devices. For example, the transfer speed will be slower if your phone used eMMC storage, but a lot faster if it comes with UFS. Similarly, transferring files to a SATA drive on a PC will take longer than to an SSD.ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY
If you're transferring to a Windows PC, it couldn't be easier.
- Connect your phone and PC using the USB cable.Image Gallery (1 Images)Expand
- You'll see a notification or pop-up on your phone allowing you to choose a USB preference. Select File transfer.
- A file transfer window should open up on your PC, or you may need to navigate to This PC via the File Explorer and find the folder named after your phone.
- From here, you can browse the contents of your phone and drag files across to a folder on your PC. Photos are usually in the Camera > DCIM folder, while downloaded files will be in the Downloads folder.
- You can also Select and Copy one or more files, then paste them into the desired folder on your PC.
Unfortunately, using a USB cable to transfer files to a Mac is not quite so straightforward. For this, you need to first install the official Android File Transfer app on your Mac. Once you've done that, the steps are fairly simple.
- Connect your phone and Mac with the USB cable.Image Gallery (1 Images)Expand
- Select File transfer from the USB preferences notification or pop-up.
- Open the Android File Transfer app (if it doesn't open automatically).
- You can now browse your phone's contents and drag files to a Finder window to transfer.
In case you don’t have a USB cable handy, you can also use Bluetooth to transfer files. But fair warning, the transfer speeds are super slow so it’s best to only use this method when transferring smaller sizes. A single attachment or a photo from your gallery should be fine, but we wouldn't recommend using Bluetooth for a long video or a large album full of photos.
- Enable Bluetooth on your phone and PC/Mac. On Android, you can enable it from the Quick Settings by pulling down the Notification Shade. On Windows and Mac, look for the Bluetooth icon on the status bar or control center.
- On your PC or Mac, search for available devices. Select your phone to pair with it.
- You’ll be asked to accept the connection by checking that a pin number matches on both devices.
- If you’re on a Mac, there’s an additional step. Go to System Preferences > Sharing and check Bluetooth Sharing to turn it on.
- Locate the file or photo on your phone that you want to transfer. Tap the Share icon, then select Bluetooth.Image Gallery (1 Images)Expand
- On a PC, right-click on the Bluetooth icon on your Taskbar and click Receive a File. Then select the device you're sharing from, and the file will be sent to your Documents folder.
- On a Mac, the file will be sent directly to the Downloads folder where you can access it right away.
3. Microsoft Your Phone app
If you have to transfer a bunch of photos from your phone to your Windows PC, Microsoft’s Your Phone companion app is a fantastic tool. Transfers are blazing fast, but this cross-device copying only works on Samsung devices running OneUI 2.1 and above. So long as you have a newer Galaxy device, this is a great way to drag and drop files and photos.
- You first need to install the Microsoft Your Phone app on your phone. Newer versions of Windows will have the Your Phone app pre-installed on your PC, but in case it's not already there, you can grab it here.
- Once you’ve paired your phone to your PC using the app, transferring images is as easy as dragging and dropping the files from your phone to your PC or vice versa.
- To do this, click on the image of your phone in the left pane or the 'Open phone screen' button.
- The home screen will pop up in a new window.
- Navigate to the My Files app and long press on the file you wish to transfer to your PC. Tick the checkboxes beside the files to select multiple, and then you can drag and drop them on your PC desktop.
- You'll be notified once the transfer is complete.
Microsoft's Your Phone can do a lot more than just transfer files — you can also use it to mirror your notifications, make calls, and plenty more besides. Check out our full guide to the poweful Your Phone app.
Microsoft’s Your Phone app is well-designed, but it comes with a lot of restrictions, especially for power users who frequently need to transfer files between their phones and PCs. Here, a third-party app called Pushbullet comes handy. It’s an all-in-one mirroring app that can also be used to transfer just about anything between your phone and PC or Mac, as long you have an internet connection. Here's how to use it:
- Install Pushbullet on your Android device and on your desktop — it's available in your browser as a Chrome extension or Firefox add-on, or as a standalone Windows app.
- Log in on both machines via either Google or Facebook.
- Select the Pushing tab in the bottom left on the phone app. Choose which device or browser you want to share with, right above the text box. It defaults to All Devices, which will make any file you share available on any device you have connected to Pushbullet.
- Tap on the attachment icon to select the file or photo.Image Gallery (1 Images)Expand
- Once done, tap on the send icon to transfer the file.Image Gallery (1 Images)Expand
- The file will appear in the device window, where you can choose to download it. It will go to the Downloads folder of your PC by default. Remember, the larger the file size, the longer it will take.
Alternatively, you can use the Remote Files feature to view all of your phone's files and transfer them from there.
5. Google Drive
Another easy option for sharing files is via the cloud. The Google account you used to set up your Android phone also comes with 5GB of Google Drive storage by default, and it can be easily accessed from your PC or Mac, allowing you to send multiple files at once. Any cloud storage app will do, so if you already use Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox, you can use those instead. Google Drive is the most readily available to newcomers, though, so this is how to use it...
- Go to the Google Drive app on your Android device.
- Click on the + button in the bottom right corner, and tap on Upload.Image Gallery (1 Images)Expand
- Select the file(s) you want to share from the list, and wait patiently while they're uploaded — this could take some time for large files.Image Gallery (1 Images)Expand
- Head to drive.google.com in your desktop browser and make sure you're logged in with the same Google account as your phone.
- Your uploaded file(s) should be there ready for you to download.
There are many more ways to share content between your Android device and PC or Mac, but these five methods are the quickest and easiest in my experience. If you've got another tip for a good way to transfer files, let everyone know in the comments.The Galaxy S22 series just got 'unpacked' in full ahead of Samsung's event
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Mike is a freelance writer for Android Police. He has been blogging since high school and has honed expertise in writing tutorials, guides and how-tos for Android and Chrome.MoreFrom Mike Johnson