Joe Hindy / Android Authority
One of the more common things people need to do is transfer files from their mobile device or tablet to their desktop. Sometimes it’s a photo, sometimes it’s a song, and many other times it’s some sort of document, presentation, or other files that needs to be transferred. There are actually quite a few ways to transfer files from Android to PC (and back again), and we’ll take a look at them here.
We’d also like to give an honorable mention to Syncthing-Fork (Google Play link). It’s a bit more power-user friendly than regular user friendly, but it worked perfectly in our testing.
AirDroid and Pushbullet
Price: Free / $1.99 per month / $19.99 per year / $38.99 per two years
AirDroid is one of the more popular apps to transfer files from Android to PC. It can do other stuff too. The features include sending and receiving SMS/MMS from your PC, see your device notifications, and much more. It can even find a lost phone, control the camera, and use apps. You’ll also be able to transfer files to your computer from your phone. You get the basic stuff for free. You’ll have to subscribe to the service to get everything. Pushbullet works very much the same way in terms of transferring files to PC from your Android device, even if it costs a little more. You can go with either of these options. They are the two most popular options.
Price: Free / Varies by app
Cloud Storage is an excellent method to transfer files from Android to PC and back again. There are various services to choose from, including Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box.com, and others. Transferring files is easy enough. You upload the file to cloud storage on one device. You then download it on another device. Most cloud storage apps have their own dedicated apps, and it makes the process easier. We have our best cloud storage apps list linked up toward the top of this article.
Feem is a simple app that does one thing very right. It transfers things from devices connected to the same WiFi network. That includes mobile phones, tablets, computers, laptops, or whatever else. Each device simply downloads Feem and runs it. From there, you can transfer whatever you want to and from those devices. The WiFi doesn’t need to be connected to the actual internet. A local network is all you really need. It’s simple, effective, cheap, and the Material Design looks nice. ShareIt is another app in this same style that does well.
Price: Free / Up to $75
Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) is kind of a wildcard. It works a lot like cloud storage. However, the cloud storage server is your own desktop or laptop. You can sync as much data as you’d like, transfer files back and forth at will, and much more. It should support Mac, Linux, and Windows as well. It’s definitely among the more secure options. Your stuff is never on a cloud server.
It’s just your phone and your PC talking to each other. The app is free for limited use, and you can unlock all the features for a single, albeit somewhat expensive payment if you want to. This can easily replace cloud storage entirely if you want it to. The only downside is that it is a power-user app, and it can be a bit frustrating to use if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Xender is one of the most popular apps in this space. It lets you connect your phone to another device and transfer over WiFi. It works with other Android or iOS phones, Macs, PCs, and even Tizen. The app does its job as intended most of the time, and it worked okay in our testing. However, this is one of those apps that either works perfectly or it doesn’t work at all. It also has a few other features, like the ability to convert video to audio, and you can apparently use it to download Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram videos. Another strong (albeit less popular) competitor here is Feem (Play Store link).
Non-app ways to transfer files
- Use Bluetooth – If your laptop has a Bluetooth module or if you have a Bluetooth dongle for your desktop or laptop, you can pair your device with your computer using Bluetooth and send files that way. The transfer rates are very slow, so only use this method for smaller files.
- USB On-The-Go – USB OTG cables allow you to connect your device to USB devices such as external hard drives or flash drives. You use the cable to transfer documents to your flash drive or external hard drive or vice versa. They are relatively inexpensive.
- Share to email – This only works with small files like photos or documents, but you can send most types of files over email. Most emails have a limit of around 25MB for attachments.
- Share to chat – This works for a number of file types, especially if you use something like Discord, Slack, or Skype. You send yourself the file in a chat on one device and retrieve it on another. This should work for smaller files like photos, documents, or similar things. Skype and Slack have support for things like PDF files, archived (zipped) files, and other document types as well.
- Use your data/charging cable – This one is fairly obvious. Just plug your phone into your computer using the USB cable that comes with your charger. This is the most common and reliable method of transferring files to PC from Android devices.
- Your microSD card – Devices with microSD card support can transfer files much like flash drives. You use a file manager app to move the files to the SD card, pop it out of your phone (after turning it off, of course), and then use an adapter to put it into your card reader on your laptop or a different adapter to connect it to your computer’s USB drive.
- Android’s Nearby Share feature – Android’s Nearby Share utility works a lot like Apple AirDrop, but for Android. You can quickly share small or large files with devices right next to you. This only works from one Android device to another Android device, but it’s still a method to move files around.
If we missed any of the best methods or apps to transfer files from Android to PC, tell us about them in the comments. You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.
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