One of the downsides of Android compared to desktop operating systems is its apparent lack of options to deep-dive into the OS and manually manage your files. While an unrooted Android OS doesn't, by default, offer many of these options, there are many very good file manager apps that will give you that granular control you want.
Whether you want to explore the root directory of your phone, encrypt apps, or just manually move, create and delete folders on your device, these file manager apps will see to your needs.
1. Files by Google
Want to keep things super-simple? If you don't want to download third-party apps to your phone, then you can just stick with Google's Files app, which is built-in on most stock Android devices or can be downloaded from the Play Store for others.
It's not as deep as some of the options on the list, but it provides a nice clean interface through which to make your phone files, lets you easily view downloads, images and videos, and share files both online (with automatic encryption) and offline.
It easily lets you find files, and can even scan your phone for files it deems to be junk and temporary files, offering to delete them for you and instantly save a bunch of storage space on your device.
2. FX File Explorer
A big question you need to ask yourself when picking a file manager is whether you're looking for something simple or whether you're more of a power user. With SMBv2 support, a customizable home screen and a Usage View that shows size and content makeup of each folder on your phone, FX File Explorer has a whole lot going for it.
FX lets you create encrypted files in the AES-256 and AES-128 formats, as well as browse them, and even has something for music fans by letting you explore audio content by the usual audio tags like artist, album and playlist (you can listen to music, watch videos and view photos directly through the app too).
And best of all, despite being free, FX File Explorer has no ads, which instantly makes the whole thing much more user-friendly. You can expand the app with paid features like FX Connect to transfer files directly between phones and 'Web Access', which lets you manage your files from a PC browser, which are nice bonuses, but most of the good stuff is right there for free.
3. Solid Explorer
One of the best things about Solid Explorer is its dual-pane design, which makes it quick and easy to sift through all your Android files. It has a particular focus on security, letting you encrypt any files and folders with a password, which you can subsequently open with a fingerprint sensor.
The two-panel design essentially creates two separate windows in Solid Explorer, letting you drag-and-drop files and folders between them much like you would in a desktop OS. There's plenty of customization in terms of colors and themes. Even more functionality gets unlocked on a rooted device, where you can use this as a proper root explorer.
The catch is that Solid Explorer is a paid app, but you can try it out for 14 days free of charge before deciding if it's for you.
One of the best-kept secret file managers for Android, MiXplorer has long been a favorite of the XDA community, letting you not only explore files on your device but also across your entire personal network (including FTP, LAN and cloud-based storage). It packs plenty of customization, allows for robust tabbed browsing, and lets you create chains of commands using the "Tasks" feature.
You can easily view various formats of files thanks to an integrated reader that reads the EPub, MobiPacket and PDF formats, as well as a comprehensive media player, image viewer and text editor.
You don't need to have a rooted device to use MiXplorer, but if you do, then even more functionality opens up in the form of data backup and extra management options. It's ad-free, completely free, and supported by people who are really in the know.
5. ES File Explorer
ES File Explorer is one of the oldest and most reliable file explorers on this list. It would actually sit at number one if only it were ad-free. It's understandable, though, as for all the time and effort the developers have put into it, they deserve some financial imbursement for their troubles.
The catch is that ES File Explorer was removed from the Play Store in April 2019, possibly due to the fraudulent activities of one of the company's subdivisions, DO Global. To use it today, you'll need to download it from a site like APKPure, where the newest versions are still being released.
ES File Manager still comes with its niche gesture feature where you can record certain gestures that will perform functions within the app. It also allows you to save shortcuts to folders and files on your home screen, making it almost fully desktop-esque. It comes with built-in viewers and players for various file types, so you can watch videos and play music directly from it. There is also a task manager where you can kill tasks and free up some memory on your device.
It supports rar and zip compression/decompression and even comes with its own note editor. Supporting cloud storage, Bluetooth file browsing, remote file access, wireless PC file transfer, an SD card analyst, and a host of other features, it's a Swiss Army knife of an app. It's theme-able too. Some may be put off by how bloated it is with its features, the ads and its material design, but if you're looking for a jack-of-all-trades, this is your best bet.
6. Astro File Manager
The first thing you see when you go on Astro File Manager's Google Play page is "No Ads." This banner runs across its icon like a company motto. For anyone who wants a great file browser that is ad-free, look no further. In addition to helping you organize your files through its file manager, it comes with a handy memory cleaner.
It allows you to compress and decompress files in rar and zip formats. You can also bookmark settings, files and folders. It comes with its own media player that allows you to play videos and music, smoothly peruse through your collection of pictures, and manage both your cloud and internal storage.
7. X-Plore File Manager
It's time to bring the pane – two panes that is. What's unique about X-Plore is it gives you the option to handle windows at the same time by providing you with a dual-pane explorer so you can copy files across and compare two folders. In addition to all of this, it allows you to see inside APK files and to compress folders into APK packages.
It has a disk map that allows you to see which files eat up the most disk space and comes with its very own PDF viewer. You can wirelessly manage your files from a PC's web-browser. It comes with cloud storage access and a video player that allows subtitles. This is all just the tip of the iceberg.
8. Total Commander
The classic, the original and my personal favourite, Total File Commander comes with a simple but powerful user interface. A few people may consider it anachronistic and a little homely, but it's as good as its Windows counterpart and gets the job done.
It's completely pluggable, which means you can add more features to it using plugins. It has a media player that can stream directly from LAN, WebDAV and cloud plugins, and you can bookmark and save folders as shortcuts. For those who have rooted devices, it has a capable root explorer.
Now that you've picked the Android File Manager of your dreams (or at least needs), follow our guide on how to remove leftover files and folders after uninstalling Android apps. Or for something a little lighter, see the best Android screen recording apps.
Image credit: Men with archive from folders by DepositPhotos
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