7 Easy Ways to Transfer Files from Your Computer to Your Android

Looking to find a way to share your computer files with your friends via your phone?

Transfer To Android Feature Image

We’ve reached a point where many of us rely on mobile devices more than computers. In fact, smartphones have evolved to a point where you can do everything from sending an email to streaming your favorite television shows all on your device. You may even want to transfer some of your files from your computer to your Android device. It’s just a matter of finding the method that makes the most sense based on the size of the file and what’s compatible with your computer. This tutorial shows you how to transfer files from your PC or Mac to your Android device.

1. Use a USB Cable

Using a USB cable is one of the oldest and still very efficient ways of moving your data from your computer to your phone. Depending on the devices you have, you can transfer files with USB-A, USB-C, or Thunderbolt cables. Regardless of which cable you use, the process works the same way, but transfer speeds will be much longer with a USB-A cable than a USB-C or Thunderbolt cable.

At the end of the day, the biggest determinant in how you transfer data using a cable comes down to whether you are using a Windows or macOS device. Below you will find step-by-step guides for both.

Transfer from Windows to Android via USB

  1. Connect your phone to a USB port on your computer.
  2. From your computer, make sure your phone is accessible to “Open Device and View Files.” If you don’t receive a pop-up notification prompting you to do this, you can access it by going to “Settings -> AutoPlay.”
Android Transfer Windows Usb Settings
  1. On your Android device, pull down the notification bar and locate “Android Systems.” Tap to open more options for the device connection.
Android Transfer Windows Android Selection
  1. From this settings menu, make sure you select “File Transfer” under the “Use USB for” section. This will allow you to move files between your PC and your Android device.
Android Transfer Windows Android Settings
  1. Open File Explorer on your Windows computer. (You can either find the folder at the bottom menu bar or perform a search for “File Explorer” from Start.)
Android Transfer Windows Usb File Explorer
  1. Find your Android on the list of devices and drives.
Android Transfer Windows Usb File Explorer Locate
  1. Double-click to locate the folder on our Android that you’d like to save these items to. Once you locate the folder, double click to open it.
  1. Open another File Explorer window and locate the file you want to move to your phone. Once both windows are open, you can simply drag and drop the file.
  2. Windows will ask whether you want to “Copy Here” or “Move Here.” This depends on whether you want the file on both devices or just want it moved to your Android. Either way, you will now see a status window showing the file transfer.
Android Transfer Windows Move File

You can also do this transfer in reverse by moving files from the phone’s storage to your computer.

Transfer from macOS to Android via USB

  1. From your macOS device, open a web browser and go to File Transfer on Android to download the Android File Transfer app.
  2. Once you have downloaded the Android File Transfer app to your Mac, connect your Android device to the Mac.
  3. On your Android device, pull down the notification bar and locate “Android Systems.” Tap to open more options for the device connection.
Android Transfer Windows Android Selection
  1. From this settings menu, make sure you select “File Transfer” under the “Use USB for” section. This will allow you to move files between your Mac and the Android device.
Android Transfer Windows Android Settings
  1. On your Mac, open a new Finder window and open the Android File Transfer app found in your applications list.
Android Transfer Mac Finder Applications
  1. You will see all of the folders on your Android device. Find the folder you want to save the file(s) to.
Android Transfer Mac Android File Transfer Folders
  1. Locate the file on your Mac that you want to move. From the desktop or another Finder window, drag and drop the file into the open folder in the Android File Transfer app. It will automatically save the file to your Android device and leave a copy on your Mac.
Android Transfer Mac Android File Transfer

2. Cloud Accounts

If you regularly use your Android device and a computer to complete work, then you may want to use a cloud storage system on these devices. Although there are many great cloud storage apps, Google Drive and Dropbox are two of the best options.

Many cloud storage apps are accessible from Android devices, Windows and macOS devices, and any changes you make instantly appear on both devices. You’ll always have access to the most up-to-date version of your documents, which is important.

Furthermore, using a cloud storage app allows you to more easily share access of these files with other people. The process is important for people who regularly collaborate with others or anyone who needs to share deliverables with a client or classmate.

Transfer from Computer to Android via Google Drive

If you regularly make changes to typed documents or spreadsheets from both your Android device and a computer, Google Drive is a great option for you. It’s a free cloud storage app that is natively integrated with most Android devices. It’s also easily accessible on both Windows and macOS devices since it is web-based. Follow the instructions below to transfer from your computer to Android via Google Drive.

  1. Go to Google Drive and log in. (If you don’t have a Google account already, you will need to create one first.)
  2. Press “New” in the upper-left corner to add a new file to your Google Drive.
Android Transfer Cloud Google Drive Pc
  1. Decide whether you would like to upload a file from your computer or create a new Google Doc. Choose the appropriate option from the menu, and save the file to your drive.
Android Transfer Cloud Google Drive File Upload
  1. Open Google Drive on your Android device. (Note: if you don’t already have this installed, you can download it here.)
  2. Locate the file and press the three dots to open the options menu, then select “Download” from the list to add the file to your Android phone.
Android Transfer Cloud Google Drive 1

You can also use Google Drive to transfer the opposite way. Open the Google Drive app on Android and press the “+” sign in the bottom-left corner to add a file. The process will work similarly to how it transfers files from the computer to Android.

Android Transfer Cloud Google Drive

Transfer from Computer to Android via Dropbox

Dropbox is another popular cloud storage app. You can sign up for a free account or pay the subscription fee if you need additional storage or want a shared drive for a business. Also, Dropbox offers desktop apps with sync capabilities for both Windows and macOS devices, so you can make changes from your computer and see those updates on your Android device in real time (or vice versa). Follow the instructions below to transfer files from your computer to Android via Dropbox.

  1. Open the Dropbox app on your computer or go to Dropbox to sign in to your Dropbox account. If you don’t have one, you can also choose to “Create An Account” from here.
  2. Press “Upload” and choose from the available options, then select the file(s) you want to add to Dropbox.
Android Transfer Cloud Dropbox Pc
  1. Once you’ve added the file, open Dropbox on your Android device. (If you haven’t yet installed Dropbox on your device, you can find it in the Google Play Store.)
  2. Locate the file in your Dropbox and press the three dots to the right of the file. Scroll and tap on “Export,” which will provide you with the option to “Save to Device.”
Android Transfer Cloud Dropbox 1

You can also do this in reverse. Open the app on your Android device and press the “+” sign in the bottom-right corner to add a file. Open it on your computer to download.

Android Transfer Cloud Dropbox

3. Email

You can use your email app to transfer one or two small files to your phone. Send it to yourself from your computer by opening a new message and clicking the attachments icon to select the files you want to send, then open the message from your phone and download the attachment.

Be aware, though, that many email clients have limits on attachment file sizes, which makes this not great for larger files. It’s also not recommended if you need to send many files at once or are trying to send anything in a zip file.

4. Bluetooth

Another alternative for sending small files is Bluetooth. It is a slower process than some of the others but is faster once it’s set up. To do this successfully, you first need to pair your devices then navigate the transfer.

Transfer from Windows to Android via Bluetooth

  1. Open Settings on your computer, then select “Devices.”
  2. Ensure Bluetooth is turned on, then choose “Add Bluetooth or other device.”
Android Transfer Bluetooth Pair Device
  1. Choose the “Bluetooth” option.
Android Transfer Bluetooth Pair Device Bluetooth
  1. Select your device from the list and click “Connect.”

    Note: If you don’t see your device on the list, you may have to also link your computer from your Android phone. To do this, pull down the notifications menu and press and hold “Bluetooth,” then choose “Pair New Device” and find your computer in the list.
Android Transfer Bluetooth Pair Device Android
  1. Open File Explorer on your computer and find the file you want to move to your Android.
  2. Right-click on the file.
  3. Hover your mouse over the “Send to” option and click the “Bluetooth” option.
Android Transfer Bluetooth Windows Send
  1. Double-click on the device you want to send the file to.
Android Transfer Bluetooth Send Choose
  1. Check your phone and click “Accept.”
Android Transfer Bluetooth Send Accept

If the transfer fails, it’s most likely because the file is too large, so you’ll need to try another method.

Transfer Files from macOS to Android via Bluetooth

  1. From your Mac, go to “System Preferences” and select “Bluetooth.”
Android Transfer Bluetooth Mac Settings
  1. Turn Bluetooth on if it isn’t already. You should see available devices. Find your Android phone and press “Connect.”
Android Transfer Bluetooth Mac Connect
  1. From here, your Android device will prompt you to verify the connection.
  2. From the “Bluetooth” menu in “System Preferences,” right-click on your Android device, then select “Send File to Device.”
Android Transfer Bluetooth Mac Share File
  1. From here, another window will open to select your file. Find the desired file, select it, then click “Send.”
Android Transfer Bluetooth Mac Select File Send
  1. Your Android device will notify you that it has received a file transfer request. Tap “Accept” to download to your device.
Android Transfer Bluetooth Mac Accept

5. Over Wi-Fi

Using Wi-Fi is a great way to move large files between the computer and your phone. To transfer data in this way, you need a third-party Android app but don’t need one for your computer. To use this method, sign up for an account on your preferred platform on your computer, install the app on your phone, and follow the instructions for transferring files.

Some popular apps for over Wi-Fi transfer include:

6. Micro SD Card

If your phone has a micro SD card, you can also use it to transfer files to your computer. Remove your micro SD from your phone, insert it into an adapter if necessary, then open File Explorer to transfer the files in the same way you would over a USB connection.

7. External USB Device

You can also move files from your computer to your Android device with a flash drive or external hard drive. You just need a USB on-the-go adapter (USB OTG).

The small USB OTG cables essentially let you connect USB-A devices (like a flash drive or external hard drive) to your phone using the Micro USB or USB-C port you typically use to charge or connect the device to your computer. They are widely available where you would buy other cables.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any files I cannot transfer from my computer to my Android device?

You can move any file to your Android device since it operates as a hard drive. However, you will not be able to open any type of file that isn’t supported on Android. This could include Audio Video Interleaved (.AVI), Keynote (.KEY), and others. Transferring these file types won’t hurt your device, but you will receive an error message if you try to open them.

Why isn't my Android device connecting to my computer?

If you have connected your Android device through a cable, you will need to ensure that the device is set up to allow file transfer with your computer. If it still isn’t working, try unplugging and restarting both devices, then try connecting again. You can also try using a different port on your computer, using a different cable, or checking for system updates on both devices.

If my computer isn't accessible, is it possible to transfer files between an Android phone and iPhone?

Yes! If you use any of the cloud storage apps or Wi-Fi transfer apps mentioned above, you can follow the steps to transfer files between an Android and iOS device.

Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels All screenshots by Megan Glosson

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox