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Tutorial: Moving Stuff Between Android and PC

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  1. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    I haven't been around these forums long, but it seems the Top Questions always include:

    How do I move music|data|files between my Android and my computer?

    Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be a "definitive" thread on it, so I'm going to share MY methodology, add a couple alternatives and hope that this helps out all the Android newbies that have recently joined The Green Robot Army.


    Q. I'm coming from iPhone. What's the difference?

    A. iPhone needs iTunes (with some exceptions). Android is a drag and drop device - like a flash drive. You can plug it in, and just copy files over. No "sync software" is usually required. The cage door is open :)

    Q. What if I want iTunes for my Android?

    A. Check out Double Twist. It's about as close as you get.

    Q. My Nexus Galaxy is an MTP device. What's the difference between this and a most other Android devices?

    A. MTP mounts the device on your computer as a "media device". Many OSes will need drivers and when the device shows up, it isn't EXACTLY the same as a regular flash/usb drive. There will be more limitations as to file names, possibly folders, etc. you are allowed to use. If you want the techie details, check here.

    Q. Do I have to use a cable to move files to my Android?

    A. No. There are dozens of ways to do it. We will look at several.

    Second, how *I* personally handle file transfers between my Android and PC.

    What You Need:
    - File Expert (Free; Market Link)
    - Local Network (Android on WiFi on the same network as your PC)
    - OPTIONAL: Good file manager (I use Directory Opus - Opus Home)
    - OPTIONAL: PC FTP software (Directory Opus has this built in)
    - OPTIONAL: HTML5 Web Browser (I use Chrome v17)

    Method(s) Used:
    - FTP
    - HTTP

    Skill Level:

    Setting Up
    1. Ensure your Android Device is on your local network via WiFi.
    2. Open your FTP or HTML5 compatible Web browser on the PC.
    3. Download and install File Expert on your Android Device.

    We will do FTP method first, then offer the alternative HTTP experience.

    Getting Started (FTP)
    1. Run File Expert on your Android Device.




    4. Take note of the address presented in the pop up window. It will appear something like:


    5. On your PC, go to your FTP program or open Windows Explorer.

    6. Configure your FTP program using the above credentials or enter the address into Windows Explorer's Address Bar.


    7. You will be prompted for credentials. Enter:

    Username: fe
    Password: filexpert

    8. Your Android will appear as if it were a folder on your computer!

    9. Use this as you would any other folder to drag and drop files to and from your Android.

    Note: You can also bookmark/favorite:

    .. that passes your credentials in with the address. Try it.

    Getting Started (HTTP)
    1. Run File Expert on your Android Device.


    3. Select START SHARE via Web


    4. Take note of the address presented in the pop up window. It will appear something like:


    5. On your PC, go to your HTML5 compatible web browser and enter the address from above.


    6. Once logged in, you will get a full desktop like environment in your web browser! Open up File Expert to access files, open up Gallery to see your pictures etc.

    (linked because it's a big image)

    Note: This web desktop tool uses the context menu a lot (right click your mouse).


    ADDENDUM Updated 2/26/2012

    1. Change the default folder on your phone

    You may not like the "default" sharing location on your device - which is usually to the standard SDCARD mapping on the phone (/mnt/sdcard).

    Many devices, while having an SD card slot, don't map the default SDCARD location to the card - they point it to another partition on internal memory (that way, it still works - even if you don't have a real SD card in).

    On the Asus Transformer tablet, for example. There are three storage locations:
    - Phone Internal Storage
    - /mnt/SDCard (which is still just another location of internal memory)
    - /Removable/MicroSD (which is the REAL SD card)

    File Expert will default to /mnt/SDCard - wherever that might point to. On the ORIGINAL Droid phone, that path actually points to the real SD card; not to some 'fake' internal memory called SDCard.

    Fortunately, it's pretty easy to change this.

    a. Use File Expert to navigate to whatever folder you want to be the "default sharing folder" (this can be ANY folder on your device - not just an SDCard (real or fake)).

    b. LONG PRESS the folder you want to make default.

    c. From the popup menu, hit MORE.

    d. On the second popup menu, select SET AS DEFAULT SHARING DIR.

    At the time of writing, there is a bug in File Expert that will not "recognize" this change immediately. You can see the details of this bug (I submitted it to the FE team) here:


    It will also show you a work around. Sorry - this is a pretty new bug and I don't think they even knew it was there. I know that sucks. I'm sure they will fix it soon. Hey, maybe you'll like the cool web version better than using FTP.

    max1957, spman, dustwun77 and 21 others like this.
  2. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    It's worth noting there are dozens of tools similar to the functionality here in File Expert.

    Many people use SwiFTP - and I did too before I found FE. I haven't done any BENCHMARKS, but FE appears to be CONSIDERABLY faster than SwiFTP in file transfers - it might be worth checking it out.

    There are also many "virtual desktop" type apps for Android as well. I choose to use File Expert because I can get to what I need faster and the "webtop" piece feels better written than some of the others I've used.

    Which of the two methods do I use the most? The FTP. My file manager has integeated FTP support that literally makes getting files off my phone a single button click experience with FE being on the phone. I have FE installed on each Android device in the house - and even while my kid is watching video on the Nook Color, I can be moving more shows over wirelessly. I have configurations in my file manager for all my android devices. I can even use Directory Opus to copy BETWEEN devices (my Transformer and my Nexus, for example).
    LadyMarissa, higge and EarlyMon like this.
  3. Mada

    Mada Well-Known Member

    I already know how to do this but I'm thanking it for your time to write this up for the forums.

    A well deserved sticky :)
  4. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    WHOO HOO!! My first sticky!
  5. pp1

    pp1 New Member

    Although others have said that there are many ways to transfer files, i appreciate to OP taking time to spell it out..

    Now I'm trying to follow "On your PC, go to your FTP program or open Windows Explorer". I think just opening WE will do it? And I can forget the FTP pgm?

    I've have to give it a try and report back.;)

    Thanks, PP1
  6. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    Windows Explorer is less feature rich than a real FTP program. You won't get things like queuing, etc.

    WE works; it is just the lowest means possible to get the job done.
  7. BWRpota

    BWRpota Well-Known Member

    Mission accomplished. Would have much preferred the cable over WiFi, however. Seems more secure. I'll look to see if you've covered that, as well.
    In the process, I did think I noticed what I've feared; my created files are not saving to my SD card, but to phone memory. Any suggestions as to why?
    Thanks for your help. SGSII
  8. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    Over WIFI should never leave your network - so it's pretty secure. Besides, most people have used the cable before; after all - it is drag and drop - so I didn't want to repeat the knowledge :)

    Yes, there is a way to set your destination to be the SD card. I just kept this initial tutorial basic.

    When I have a couple minutes, I'll add that to the end of the OP and give a heads up.
  9. BWRpota

    BWRpota Well-Known Member

    You just ROCK, man...no question about it.
  10. Zsnake

    Zsnake Active Member

    OK, MY turn to get confused. I'm a point and clicker, so talk DOWN to me.
    I did everything stated in the first post. I now can see my files from the Android on the PC screen. I STILL cannot figure out how to share them. I want it to work both ways....Droid to PC and PC to Droid.

    What's the proceedure?

    Thanks in advance.

  11. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    OK, if you want to drag and drop from there, you're all set.

    If you want something simple, totally automatic, and free that will synchronize your PC and your Android so that all of your cool stuff is just there, like magic, check out


    Sorry if I misunderstood your original question.
  12. Zsnake

    Zsnake Active Member

    Howdy again. Am back trying to get this thing to work. Thanks for your advice so far, but I still don't understand.

    I have the File Expert on my Android. (Didn't believe that I could get THAT far! LOL) Sooooo drag and drop WHAT?

    Like now I want a picture or tune or whatever that is on my PC to transfer over to the Apad. What is the exact proceedure?

    I'm really a dumb-cluck, (Read older person) so talk down to me.

    Thanks again in advance.
  13. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    As mentioned, you just need to change the default FTP sharing directory. I am adding that to the OP right now. Just go back and take a look.

  14. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    Can you drag and drop from your computer to a USB drive or from one hard drive to another? If you're THAT old, maybe from your hard drive to a floppy drive?

    Open up TWO copies of Windows Explorer. In one, bring up the phone - in the other, bring up your hard drive where the file is you want to copy.

    Drag the file into the Windows Explorer that has the phone files in it. Drop them in.

    There are a number of file managers designed to make "file maintenance" like this easier. Many are free, some are pay. Here are a handful of the popular ones you may or may not know of.

    Five Best Alternative File Managers

    I'm a devoted Directory Opus user - simply the most powerful thing you can have on your computer - but it isn't for everyone.

  15. Zsnake

    Zsnake Active Member

    WHOA! I think I got it. If ya hit me over the head with a board a few times, it helps the thought to sink in! Downloaded 5 pictures!!!!!

    I could not get it to work with the web, but I did get it to work with the cable. I hope that I can repeat my success in the future.

    THANKS for you patience and, of course, the help.

  16. KingDrax

    KingDrax Member

    What do you need to do if you have downloaded an app from Android Market onto your PC, and then want to install that app on the Android?
  17. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    Simply use the FTP or WEB sharing features of File Expert, and copy the .apk file you have downloaded to your Android.

    Then, use File Expert to open the .apk and install it.
  18. Rowbin

    Rowbin New Member

    Great guide! Very informative.
    Personally though, I find it much easier to just use Dropbox. It syncs between my laptop, desktop, and phone, and I can access the files on any computer/device just through their website.
  19. GreenBeans

    GreenBeans Well-Known Member

    I was going to go through those steps, then I saw that comment about Dropbox. Thanks anyway.
  20. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    Make no mistake - Dropbox is just one other solution.

    However, Dropbox doesn't interest me for the very reason that you have to sync to the cloud FIRST before moving to the next device.

    Everyone here on ultra-fast $80 a month broadband? I am. And Dropbox doesn't meet my needs for most transfers.

    Most of the time, I'm not doing one, 20k APK file. I'm doing a 150MB ZIP file of a new custom rom. Or 20 or 30 MP3 files at 5MB each. Or 350MB video files.

    Tell you what ... run a test on your own. Make a folder on your computer. Put 50MB of "stuff" in it (MP3s, video, pictures, whatever).

    Now, start a timer. Copy the files to your Dropbox. Stop the timer when you get all the files on your phone.

    Then, do what I've outlined above. I can move 50MB in about 15 seconds. Let me know how long your DropBox method takes.
  21. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    BTW ... I'm now writing the documentation for File Expert. It is really far more than just another file manager. Might be worth perusing the docs to see what hidden gems are in there.

    File Expert for Android: The Unofficial Manual
  22. Zsnake

    Zsnake Active Member

    WOW! You sure do seem to know what you are talking about...wish I did. LOL

    Following your advice I have been able to load songs,movies, and pictures from my PC to the tablet.

    I got two more questions for you if you have the time.

    1. When I try to move text files (From Microsoft Word at this point) I cannot retrieve them on the apad. It won't open them. Is there some place special I should download them to? I have tried to get to I-reader, received files and E-books. None "take".
    2. Where do I get an E-book reader? I have gone to the app store on the apad and cannot find one. Need to open books from Barnes/Noble and the like.

    Keep up the good work...I'm impressed!
  23. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    Are you sure they are actual text files? .TXT files? If so, if you select them within File Expert, you should be offered to open them with FE's Text Viewer. If you have Dropbox installed, there is a text viewer/editor associated with that. If you have Opera web browser installed, it will look at .txt files too.

    My GUESS is that you THINK you're saving text files, but you're really saving Office documents - which you'll need something like Quick Office, Polaris Office or one of the various Office packages out there to look at it.

    B&N and Amazon have their own, dedicated eReaders. You'll need to use those programs to view content purchased there.

    There are several other readers available for generic ebooks like Aldiko that should do the trick.
  24. darkuni

    darkuni Well-Known Member

    Oh, and I really don't know that much ... I just focus in areas and strive for knowledge. :)
  25. pengu1

    pengu1 New Member

    Shouldn't you be able to plug in your device to a computer with a usb cable and see it in explorer? I see drive :D but when I click on it it says "Insert disc into drive :D". Is there something wrong or am I mis-informed?

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