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. I use the stock file manager so all of these examples will use that.

How to upload, download and see all your Android files2

How to see your Android files

The easiest way to see your Android files is to access device storage on the handset.

  1. Navigate to Settings, Storage & USB and Internal storage.
  2. Browse Images, Videos, Audio, Downloads and Google Drive files from the window.
  3. Use the three line menu icon in the top left to have the file manager order items.
  4. Select Other for a deeper dive into your Android files.

You can also view files while your phone is connected to your computer. I use Windows 10 but this will work with Mac too.

  1. Plug your Android phone into your computer with a USB cable.
  2. Set it for File Transfer if the cable doesn’t default to it. Wait for Windows to detect it.
  3. 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.

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.

SD Card

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 the other files. As mentioned, not all apps and files can be saved into external storage so you may not see everything you’re expecting.

How to upload, download and see all your Android files3

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:

  1. Navigate to Settings, Storage & USB and Internal storage.
  2. Select the file or folder you want to move by pressing down on the icon and holding it until it says selected.
  3. Tap the three dot menu icon and select ‘Move to’ or ‘Copy to’.
  4. 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!

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