You’ve just finished using your Android device to polish off your latest cinematic masterpiece or avante garde work of art, but now you’ve got a problem: you need to get those files in android phone over to a PC.
No need to worry! The hallmark of the Android operating system is flexibility, and that means you have plenty of options to choose from when accomplishing any task. Let’s take a look at what you might do to transfer files from your android phone or tablet to your PC.
Related article: Android File Transfer
Method 1: Dropbox (Requires Internet)
Don’t let Al Gore’s greatest gift to humanity lie fallow! Put that series of tubes to work for you.
Services that use the internet for file transfer usually take a little bit of setting up beforehand, but that shouldn’t scare you off. Once you’ve got some good apps in place, using them regularly will become second nature and seriously streamline your interactions between devices.
Dropbox is an excellent resource for anybody who uses multiple devices on the regular. It’s a cloud-based storage system that lets you access your files anywhere, and the first 2 gigs of storage are free.
Step 1: Download Dropbox
Access the Play Store and install the Dropbox android app.
Step 2: Sign Up
Use an email address to register for a Dropbox account. Remember these credentials, because you’ll need to use them to log in on your PC
Step 3: Upload
Tap the Menu icon and select Upload Here.
Then use the browser to locate the files you need. Select the ones you want and click Upload.
Step 4: Switch to your PC
Using an internet browser on your PC, navigate to Dropbox.com to log in.
Step 5: Download your File
Find the file you need, and then click Open.
Bingo! Now that masterpiece is on your computer.
Note: you can also install Dropbox onto your computer to keep a shared folder on your hard drive that updates across your PC and Android device. This will come in handy if you plan on moving a lot of content between these devices in the future.
Method 2: Google Drive (Requires Internet)
Drive is a lot like Dropbox in that it is simply a cloud-based storage service. However, Drive integrates naturally with other Google products, which can be nice in certain contexts. I personally like to use both.
Step 1: Download Google Drive
Search the Play Store and download the Google Drive android app.
Step 2: Sign In
Open Drive and use your Google account to sign in.
Step 3: Share Your File
Once Drive is set up, find your file and tap the share button.
Then select Drive from the options. You’ll be given an opportunity to change the file’s name and its location within Drive before sharing it.
Step 4: Switch to your PC
With your PC’s browser, head over to Google Drive to log in.
Step 5: Download
Explore Drive to locate your file. You are now free to download it.
Just like Dropbox, you can install Google Drive on your computer to have a shared folder between your devices. Add a file to it on one, it shows up in the other. Very convenient!
Method 3: Pushbullet (Via Chrome)
Pushbullet is an incredible app that brings your Android device and PC into sync in a revolutionary way. Effortlessly transferring files is just one of the many things Pushbullet can do.
For instance, I’ve responded to three text messages in the last hour from my PC thanks to Pushbullet without ever touching my phone. However, you can only ‘push’ files smaller than 25MB, so this method is a no-go if you’ve got something massive to transfer.
Step 1: Download Pushbullet
Navigate the Play Store until you find the Pushbullet Android App. Install it.
Step 2: Sign In
Open Pushbullet and sign in. I recommend using your Google account, but you can also sign in with Facebook.
Step 3: Install the Pushbullet Extension
On your PC, install the Pushbullet Chrome Extension from the Chrome Web Store.
Step 4: Sync Up
While still on your PC, go to Pushbullet.com and sign in with the same service you used in Step 2. Now your devices are in sync.
Step 5: Push!
Now you can send small files directly from your Android device to your PC using the Share button.
Select A New Push from the list of options.
Select Chrome from the menu. You can add a title and message if you like. Then tap the arrow to send.
Pop! Your file will show up in Chrome, available for download.
Method 4: Email (Requires Internet)
If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can always email the file to yourself. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Unfortunately, this method also has a file size limit depending on your email service. Gmail’s is currently 25MB.
Step 1: Compose an Email to Yourself
Remember to be courteous and professional. And don’t forget to attach the file!
Step 2: Answer your Email
On your PC, open your email and download the file.
Method 5: Good Old Fashioned Cables
Suspicious of modern technology? Wary of the NSA? You can still get your files to your PC hard drive without ever have to think about all this “cloud” nonsense or “internet” mumbo jumbo. The best thing about using a cable is that there is no limit to the amount of data you can transfer and moving files is relatively quick and painless.
Step 1: Get the Cables
What you’re looking for is almost certainly a micro usb cable. One probably came with your Android device, but if you lost it, they aren’t very expensive. Grab one and get ready for some file transfer action.
Step 2: Plug it into the computer
This typically takes about three tries since USB ports exist in a state of quantum superposition, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it on the first or second attempts.
Step 3: Plug the other end into your Android device
Let me know if I need to slow down.
Step 4: Use Windows Explorer
Open Windows Explorer on your PC. Under “This PC” or “My Computer” (depending on your version of windows) locate your device. Note, if you’re looking for photos, Android usually stores pictures taken by the camera in a file called “DCIM”. Simply copy those files over to your hard drive, and you’re done!
Method 6: Over a Wireless Network (Without Internet)
If you have a large amount of data to move and also plenty of time to do it, the best option is to transfer it over a wireless network. The network doesn’t even need access to the internet so long as both your Android device and PC are connected to it.
Step 1: Download File Manager
There are lots of options when it comes to managing your Android storage, but my personal favorite is File Manager by Cheetah Mobile. Download it from the Play Store to get started.
It’s a lean, no-frills application with an intuitive interface.
Step 2: Activate Wi-Fi File Transfer
Open the application and click the Wi-Fi File Transfer button.
Make sure your Android device and computer are connected to the same wireless network, and click Start.
Make note of the address presented.
Step 3: Enter the FTP Address
On your PC, open Windows Explorer and enter the address exactly as File Manager displayed it. This will open your device’s storage over your wireless network.
Step 4: Copy the Files You Need
Now simply copy the files you need over to your hard drive. Remember: Android stores usually photos taken by the camera in a folder called “DCIM”.
This approach works wonders if you are moving content too large for Dropbox or Drive, and you don’t want to be tethered to your computer by a cable. However, in my experience, it is a little on the slow end, so make sure you’re going to be in the wireless network’s range for a while.
Method 7: Attempt Bluetooth
Using Bluetooth to move files from your Android device to your PC is the method I recommend the least. Your device almost certainly supports sharing over Bluetooth natively, but forums are littered with the ire of Windows users struggling to use it as a method of file transfer. In fact, most solutions other users offer up involve abandoning Bluetooth altogether in favor of another method.
Nevertheless, if you’re feeling particularly bold and/or masochistic, there is theoretically a way to move files from your Android device to your PC over Bluetooth if the stars are in the correct position and if you have ritually sacrificed the requisite number of chickens beforehand.
Step 1: Make Sure Your Computer Supports Bluetooth
I had an office mate one time who came close to throwing his computer across the room because he couldn’t establish a Bluetooth connection with it. We soon discovered that the computer never had Bluetooth to begin with, and deduced that this was probably the core of his problem.
If your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth, consider investing in an adapter like this one.
Troubleshooting Bluetooth with a PC can be tricky because different models have different steps for activating and customizing the connection, and some laptops even require vendor-exclusive software to run correctly. Ergo, if you have trouble on the PC side of this, it will be best to consult a guide for your specific PC model.
On your computer, access the control panel and select Devices and Printers. Make sure your Android device is set as discoverable and click “Add a Device” on your PC. Your PC will scan for any new devices. When your Android device appears, select it and click Next.
Follow the instructions on the Wizard to pair your Android device with your PC.
Step 3: Share
On your Android device, use the share feature on the file you want to share.
Select the Bluetooth icon, and select your computer from the list of connected devices.
On your PC, a notification will pop up alerting you of a pending transfer request. Click the OK button, and if your chakra is in alignment and you haven’t seen any black cats in the past week then your file should transfer over safe and sound.
You have lots of options at your fingertips when it comes to transferring files from Android to PC. The best method for you will likely depend on what you need to transfer files for.
If you find yourself having to move large amounts of data on a deadline, then using a physical cable just can’t be beat. However, if you need to keep a set of important files in one easy-to-reach location, Dropbox and Drive will probably be your best bets. Pushbullet is nice for sending over the odd image or document without any kind of fuss, and File Manager lets you keep your phone in your pocket while using it like another drive on your computer.
Personally, I tend to use all of these methods depending on what I’m trying to accomplish. Except for Bluetooth, of course, since Bluetooth is secretly an anger management test disguised as a file transfer system.