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Support Accessing System & Applications On Mac OS X

Discussion in 'Android Help' started by PGB1213, May 20, 2016.

  1. PGB1213

    PGB1213 Member
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    Hello All!
    I hope you all don't mind if this is an elementary question, but I could not figure it out on my own.
    I am brand new to smart phones (and pretty new to cellular telephones). The carrier said my old phone won't work any longer, so they sent me a smart phone.

    The new phone is a ZTE Z812 Maven that uses Android 5.0.
    I was exploring around and downloaded a couple of applications. I also bought a Micro SDHC card & installed it. I had moved my downloaded apps to the SD card & left the (dozens of) pre-loaded apps on the phone.

    I wanted to be albe to move music files from the computer to the phone, so I downloaded Android File Transfer application for Mac.
    Android File Transfer lets me see see lots of files & folders on the phone & SD card; most of which are empty. But, I was curious about where apps live, so I hunted around & did not find any.

    I also got curious about where the system files are stored. Again, no luck finding them on the phone or the SD card. (The computer is a MacBook Pro using OS X 10.11.5 El Capitan.)

    Lots of internet searching provided many varying answers for seeing hidden files, app files & system files. They ranged from getting an app for this to places on the phone to find the folders & files. I tried all the on-phone things & had no luck. I backed away before I installed an app, preferring to ask here first.

    My next attempt was to put the SD card directly into the computer via an adapter. OS X's Finder saw it and some hidden files were revealed, but not the apps or system files. Only OS X related hidden files show up. That showed me that the Finder-Like window in Android File Transfer App is not really a Finder window, but laid out like one for our convenience. (Pretty Spiffy!)

    Next- I have a virtual instance of Windows XP on the computer via VirtualBox. I thought perhaps Windows would be a way to see the folders & files. The computer wanted a driver for the phone in Windows, but ZTE does not have one specifically for Windows XP. I tried a few others I found on line, but they did not work- So back to the Mac I went.

    I have no intention of manipulating the files or deleting them. This is more of a curiosity question.

    I am wondering if you all know a way to see these, apparently hidden, files on the computer. Is a different application required & do you have one you recommend?

    And, if I may sneak in another question- For the applications that I downloaded, one shows the permissions in Settings - Apps, but the others do not. Does that mean that they have no special permissions that can wreck my stuff?

    Thanks For Your Help on these questions. It is certainly appreciated.
    Enjoy Today!
    Paul
     

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  2. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
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    Welcome to Android Forums! :)

    Those are some pretty involved questions and might take a bit to explain it all so let's start with the basics. Are you familiar at all with Linux file structure? Because Android is a derivative of Linux and follows a similar file/folder architecture. You can give this a look. I'm sure it will raise more questions than it answers, but at least it's a place to start.

    Theoretically you shouldn't need any utility to see your files when you plug the device in to a PC/Mac. Sometimes, especially Macs, things don't always work quite right. But even with a utility app, you can only see the files and folders you have permission to see. In order to see everything you must gain root (administrative access.) We won't be doing this right now.

    Moving apps to the SD card, doesn't actually move the app to the SD card and certainly not the external SD card on a device running 5.0 (lollipop). It will move parts of apps to the /sdcard partition to free up some system RAM, but, unless you've got a very basic model phone with limited resources, this probably won't make anything faster.

    Hidden files and folders are different than protected files. You can see hidden files if you have the right permissions. You just have to know how to look for them. ;)

    For installed apps that aren't listed under permissions, it just means that they don't need any special permissions to work. Many times apps that require a lot of permissions to do basic tasks can be either malicious or sloppy programming. Best practices is that if you aren't sure, ask here before installing anything.
     
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  3. SavageRobot

    SavageRobot Android Expert
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    Hello and Welcome,

    1) Without rooting (by the sounds of it nothing you would really find useful) you can't move apps onto SD. Use your internal memory for apps and external memory (SD) for Music/Pictures/Documents etc.

    2) I really don't think you need to download any programs to transfer music and the likes between PC and device. Just plug device into PC through USB, wait for drivers to install (1st time only needed) and then you should be able to see "ZTE" or "Phone" or something in file explorer on PC. Click that, should have "Internal" and "MicroSD" again, or something similar. Click the second one and you are now in the root directory of your SD card, I would make a folder in there called "Music" or something and copy and paste the tunes you want from PC.

    3) You can't see the system files, for the safety or the user. To see system files you need root as tinkering in there if you don't know what you are doing can turn the phone into an overpriced brick.

    4) If you are looking for hiding things, you can either put them in a folder with a "." at the start, eg, ".folder" or creating a file called ".nomedia" inside the file. There are also a few apps that hide things pretty well Hide it Pro is one I used to use.
    If you are purely asking about seeing hidden files for the system files, as I say, without root for safety of the users device and pocket all you can see as a normal user is "/storage/emulated/0" there is a lot more before this "0" where all the workings of the phone reside.

    5) You can see an apps permissions, and should take note of what permissions the app is asking for, eg. if you download a gallery app for example and it is asking for access to phones, why? Unless you trust the app, always just be sure. It will tell you permissions the apps want when you download it. To check after downloading go to Settings>apps & seletc the app, you can see permissions in there. In Marshmallow 6.x (the firmware up from yours, Lollipop 5.x) you can actually select which permissions the app can use, very useful. Don't know if your device is able to get Marshmallow or not, just a bit of info.

    If you would like to look into rooting we can look at that but I would advise against it unless you are comfortable with the risks. It opens up a lot of possibilities but as I say, the normal user would be perfectly fine without root.

    Edit: Ninjad by @lunatic59 , takes some explaining :)
     
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  4. PGB1213

    PGB1213 Member
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    Thank You Both for the very helpful information. You each explain things very, very well. (Even I understood- And that in itself is a miracle!)

    That was pretty neat what you explained about part of an app being moved instead of the whole thing, Lunatic59. I'd have never guessed that the system was set up like that. No wonder I don't see the apps in my Android File Transfer.app window. Somehow doing the file system that way seems like a more efficient use of RAM and I can also conceptualize how it can make a program run faster by having the important stuff as local as possible.

    When I read your explanation, SavageRobot, about simply putting Music in a folder on the SD I read it twice. It can't get easier than that! Of course, when I searched the internet on my own, there were all kinds of complicated ways to accomplish the same thing. And there were apps to buy... I like your way best. Bam! Done!

    Thanks also for mentioning that I can hide things if desired. I suppose if I ever get to the point where I bank via phone that will be quite handy to store information. This may be a while off: I still can't figure out my ATM card.

    You guys explained Permissions well. I was curious about all the permissions that a magnifying glass app I looked at needed. When I saw it needed permission to access the SD card I wondered. Now it makes sense because it can take a photo of the thing you are magnifying & has to store it somewhere. Some others do not sound right, so I'll skip them. An example is a ruler app that wanted to have access to a whole lot of permissions; yet another ruler app wanted no permissions at all to accomplish the same task. (Notice how I gravitate toward the old-guy helper tools.)

    The article on the link you provided, Lunatic59 is great. It also explained things very well. I saved it for future reference.
    I guess my only glitch for accessing the phone in Windows is getting the USB driver installed. Windows' 'Install New Device' can't find it & neither can I. So, I sent a question to ZTE support to ask if it is still available for download. There are many, many sites that say they have this driver, but I am cautions about downloading items from sites that are not the manufacturer, so I skipped them.

    I spent a lot of time yesterday & this morning wandering around this forum. I sure learned a lot. This is a really neat place to learn & people are quite generous about teaching others.
    Thanks Again Guys for your help. I promise not to post too many 'simple stuff' questions as I learn my phone.
    Enjoy This Day!
    Paul
     
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  5. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
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    To connect your phone to your PC (or Mac) to simply transfer files, you shouldn't need any special drivers. When you plug it in, it should be recognized as a removable drive like a flash drive. Now, with Android 6 (Marshmallow) the default USB mode is charge only, so you have to go through another step by pulling down the notification bar, selecting USB options and choosing MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) mode.

    With earlier versions of Android it usually just connected, but some manufacturers required an additional confirmation, too.

    The part where drivers come in is if you are accessing the device in debugging mode, which allows greater file system access through ADB (Android Debug Bridge) and other developer tools. For that I've found that the generic Google drivers included with the SDK are pretty good, although, again, some manufacturers require a very specific driver set. I'm not familiar with ZTE device so I can't say for sure, but it's a fairly widely known brand so if yu need them, I'm sure they're out there.
     
  6. PGB1213

    PGB1213 Member
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    Thanks Lunatic59 for the above post.
    This is where I get stuck. On Windows XP, Windows is asking for a driver & won't show me the device without it. I can plug in a regular flash drive or other USB device (not Android) and Windows sees them fine. I'll keep trying to find the mystery driver.
    In Mac OS X, I did need the application Android File Transfer. The phone was invisible to OS X until I installed the program. It shows limited files & folders, but since I'm not into debugging or other technical stuff, I assume the files they do show will be OK for my uses. I will try moving a photo or movie to see how it goes. I'll test one to the phone & one to the SD.

    Thanks Again!
    Paul
     

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