12 Ways to Transfer Files from an Android Phone to a Windows PC or Mac
Although the top Android phones come with a minimum of 128GB storage as standard, it may not be sufficient for everyone. Perhaps you’d like to back up photos to free up storage space or move music to your desktop that you downloaded on your phone. Because of Android’s open and transparent nature, there are many ways to do it. You can use a USB cable, Bluetooth, a third-party app, or a local wireless connection.
Using the USB cable that came with your smartphone is probably the easiest way to connect and transfer files 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. However, 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 depends on the type of cable and storage you have on both devices. For example, the transfer speed is slower if your phone uses eMMC storage but faster if it comes with UFS. Similarly, transferring files to a SATA drive on a PC takes longer than an SSD.
Use a USB cable to transfer files to Windows
If you’re transferring to a Windows PC, it couldn’t be easier. Connect your phone and PC using the USB cable. You’ll see a notification or pop-up on your phone where you can choose a USB preference. Select the radio button beside File transfer / Android Auto. A file transfer window opens on your PC, or you may need to navigate to This PC via 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.
Use a USB cable to move files to a Mac
Using a USB cable to transfer files to a Mac is not as straightforward. You’ll 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. Select File transfer / Android Auto 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.
You can also use Bluetooth to transfer files if you don’t have a USB cable handy. But fair warning, the transfer speeds are super slow, so it’s best to 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 or Mac.
Enable it on Android from the Quick Settings by pulling down the Notification Shade. Look for the Bluetooth icon on the status bar or control center on Mac and Windows. On your PC or Mac, search for available devices. Select your phone to pair with it. The system asks you to accept the connection by checking a pin that 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. On a PC, right-click the Bluetooth icon on your Taskbar and click Receive a File. Then select the device you’re sharing from, and the file is sent to your Documents folder. On a Mac, the file is sent to the Downloads folder, where you can access it immediately.
Microsoft Phone Link
If you want to transfer several photos from your phone to your Windows PC, Microsoft’s Phone Link app (formerly known as Your Phone) is a fantastic tool. While Your Phone was limited to Samsung Galaxy phones, the rebranded app is compatible with all phones running Android OS 7.0 or later.
Install the Link to Windows app on your phone.
Newer versions of Windows have the Phone Link app preinstalled on the PC, but you can grab it here if it’s not there. Open the Phone Link app on Windows and connect your Android phone via the QR code. Allow the necessary permissions to the Link to Windows Android app. Once you’ve paired your phone to your PC using the app, transferring images is as easy as dragging and dropping the files. Either drag and drop photos from the Phone Link app to the desktop or right-click on an image and select Save as from the context menu. Select the folder on your PC to export the image. Microsoft’s Phone Link can do more than transfer files. You can also use it to mirror your notifications, make calls, and more. Check out our full guide to the powerful Phone Link app.
ShareDrop is a free, open source web app to transfer files from your Android phone to your PC or Mac and vice versa. You don’t need to install an app on either of the devices. The entire solution is web-based and uses an encrypted peer-to-peer connection. The software uses WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) technology to complete the transfer process. First, make sure your phone and PC or Mac are connected to the same network and follow the steps below.
Visit ShareDrop on your preferred desktop browser.
Click + in the upper-right corner. Copy the web address and open the same on your Android phone. You can also scan the QR code using your Android device. Your phone opens ShareDrop in the default browser. Select your avatar. Tap Files. Select images and videos you want to send. Tap Send. ShareDrop on the desktop asks you to save files. Tap Save. You can find your downloaded files from the File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) app.
Another easy option for sharing files is via the cloud. The Google account you used to set up your Android phone comes with 15GB of Google Drive storage by default, and it’s easily accessible on a PC or Mac, allowing you to send multiple files at once. Google Drive is readily available to every Android user.
Follow the steps below to use it.
Open the Google Drive app on your Android device. Click on the + button in the lower-right corner, and tap Upload. Select the files you want to share from the list, and wait while they’re uploaded. This could take some time for large files. Go 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 files are ready to download. If you frequently use Google Drive to transfer files from Android to Windows or Mac, download and set up Drive for desktop and integrate Google Drive with the File Manager (Windows) or the Finder (Mac) menu. You can also upgrade to one of the Google One plans to enjoy more storage space and premium customer support.
All Microsoft 365 subscribers get 1TB of OneDrive storage. The cloud storage service is built into Windows. If you are an existing Microsoft 365 subscriber, you might prefer OneDrive over Google Drive to transfer files from your Android phone to Windows or Mac.
Download the OneDrive app on your Android phone.
Open OneDrive and sign in with your Microsoft account credentials. Select the + icon at the top, tap Upload, and upload files to OneDrive from the following menu. Open File Explorer (press Windows+E) on Windows and select your OneDrive account from the left sidebar. Your uploaded files are ready to use on the desktop. Mac users can download OneDrive for macOS or access the same via the OneDrive…