It’s easy enough once you know how
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.
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.
If you're transferring to a Windows PC, it couldn't be easier.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Alternatively, you can use the Remote Files feature to view all of your phone's files and transfer them from there.
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…
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.
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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.