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5 Easy Ways to Find & Open Downloaded Files on Android

Let’s be honest…

The ubiquity of mobile devices these days – especially Android devices which account for almost 90% of all mobile devices worldwide – means that more and more people are jumping onto Google’s mobile operating system.

Now:

For these new users – and indeed even for some older users as well – apparently finding where downloaded files go is a very real problem.

The worst part is…

It’s not automatically obvious for newer users how to access these downloaded files and in fact, where they go in the file system.

Smartphone Problems
Locating where your downloaded files go can be confusing at first.

As you can see…

Older users may want to clean up their files and free up storage space on their Android devices but find out that they don’t know where to go to open or delete downloaded files.

Don’t worry! I understand the problem.

So I’ve put together this guide to help point you in the right direction of opening your downloads and accessing them. Check out these 5 methods I’ve listed down for you.

But first…

Where Are My Downloaded Files?

Most of the new Android versions, starting from Marshmallow up to the most current (Android Nougat and Android Pie), have a default “Download” folder. This is your download folder.

The operating system, and even most apps, are programmed to use this folder as the default download location.

Downloads Folder
Most Android versions will have a default Download folder.

So Android has made it so that virtually all of your downloads will automatically go to the default “Download” folder; it’s just a matter of locating this folder. I’ll point you to 5 ways you can do this.

1. Find Your Downloaded File Using Notifications

If you’ve recently downloaded a file and you don’t know where it went, Android will usually generate a notification of whether your download is still currently downloading or if it has finished doing so.

Download Notification
Android will usually notify you when a download is finished.

Once a download is done, Android will notify you – usually at the top part of your screen – that it has indeed finished downloading the file.

Tapping on this notification will either open the file directly with an associated app, or open the folder where it is saved.

This is one of the easiest ways to find and open your downloaded files in Android.

2. Find Your Downloads Using Your Phone’s File Manager App

Modern smartphones will usually come with a stock file manager app that your manufacturer has installed into the operating system for easy us\e. Not all file manager apps are created equally, of course, but they should let you do at least one thing – that is, access your phone’s file system and look at what files are there.

File manager apps will not be named the same across all phones either, but they will have relatively recognizable names such as “My Files”, “Files”, “Folders”, “My Folders” or even just plain old “File Manager”. The icon will also be recognizable – a file folder or an envelope-shaped icon.

Samsung Myfiles
Manufacturers normally install a stock file manager app.

Tap on this app and find the “Downloads” folder. This should be easy to do, as file manager apps tend to display folders alphabetically. Once you’ve located the Downloads folder, tap on it to access the files within.

You will need an associated app to open or access the file you downloaded. For example, a PDF document needs a PDF reader app of some sort installed in your phone. An image will usually trigger your phone’s stock image viewer app or the Gallery app.

Make sure you have the right app to access the file you just downloaded.

3. Locate Where Your Downloads Are Using a Third Party App

If for some reason you can’t locate where your stock file manager app is – if the icon got hidden somehow, or worse, the app got uninstalled – don’t worry, as there are still other ways to find where your downloads are.

You can install a third party file manager app from the Google Play Store, where you might be overwhelmed at the number of apps you can possibly install when you search for “file manager”. Allow me to make two recommendations.

ES File Explorer

One the more popular file manager apps is ES File Explorer. You can download this and then use it as your file manager app. You can now locate your Downloads folder using this app, as it also has a text search function.

ES File Explorer Screen
ES File Explorer is a file manager app with added features.

That said, the app is free-to-download, so it will show you ads from time to time. That shouldn’t be a big problem. ES File Explorer also has added features which you may or may not want. It is a solid file manager app, and we can recommend it for the task at hand.

Google Play

FX File Explorer

Another solid file manager app is FX File Explorer, which I can recommend to you with all the good things I’ve seen from it by using it personally. The app is free to use, but it has virtually zero ads, which is always a good thing.

FX File Explorer Screen
FX File Explorer is one of the more solid file manager apps out there.

It provides a more feature-rich file manager, something that the more technically savvy will appreciate. For the task at hand, it is more than capable to show you where your downloads are.

Google Play

4. Locate Your Downloads Using the Chrome Browser App

Say that you downloaded an image a few days back, and you may have accidentally deleted it. You can still easily get that image back – or any other download you did on the Chrome browser – for that matter, because the Chrome app remembers your downloads.

Chrome Downloads
Locate Chrome’s Downloads section from the menu.

Open up the Chrome browser app, which most people use as their default smartphone internet browser. Tap on the menu button to the left of the address bar (the three dots button), and then tap on Downloads.

Chrome Recently Downloaded Files
The list will show all of Chrome’s recent downloaded files.

The following menu will show you all your recent downloads, and you can just tap on one to re-download it. There’s also an option to sort the items on this menu by type – that is, if the file is a document, an audio file, a video file, or an image.

5. Find Your Downloads Using Your Windows Computer

Nothing like harnessing a more robust (and familiar) operating system to find what you’re looking for.

If connecting your Android device to your Windows computer is easier for you, then you can also use this to find the Downloads folder in Android.

Huawei Screen Windows
You can use your Windows computer to locate your downloads.

Connect your Android device to your computer using your smartphone’s USB cable. Plug in to a USB port on your computer and wait for your computer to accept the connection.

Using the Windows Explorer program, you can navigate to your Android device and locate the “Download” folder. The file you’re looking for should be easily locatable at this point. You can even save the said file on your computer if you want to use it at some other time.

FAQs:

Conclusion

I understand that finding your way around the Android operating system might seem slightly daunting at first. If you’re jumping on to Android from an Apple device, this is totally understandable.

It doesn’t mean that it’s not doable, though. It might seem that your downloads just vanished from your device, especially if you’re the type who swipes through notifications almost absent-mindedly.

These methods are helpful to get you back on track and locate the downloaded files you need to access. Let us know in the comments section which method worked for you.

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29 Comments

  1. This morning I got another update to from verizon o.t.a. I have a galaxy S5. The update took about 10 minutes to install. I will say just from 1 day, it appears to be a much needed update. I have no more error messages, my apps are behaving like they used to and nothing has notified me that it has unexpectedly stopped working. Seems very stable so I say thank you to Samsung. My android version still says 5.0 bUT my baseband version has changed to G900VVRU1BOC4. If you have any more info about this upate would love to know what all it is supposed to do. But s9 far call me happy.

    Dominic

  2. I downloaded the recommended app from google play and now it’s back to normal. Can you please explain why the files originally opened, and then would not.

    1. Hi Steve,
      It´s hard to tell without all the details, but it could have been that another app´s update could have caused the problems since updates are known to do that. The important thing is that everything is back to normal, glad to hear that and thanks for commenting. =-)

  3. I’m using Vodafone 685 smart phone. When I download a file on completion it writes “Queed ” failing to open. I’m tired of it what can I do to make them open.

    1. Hi Pio,
      Is it with just one file type or with all of them? =-) Are you trying to open your files with any of the methods in the post?

  4. if I delete a download e-mail or just an e-mail where they come in on the Motorola phone, will this delete it from the Toshiba computer I use (or vice versa)? My phone is overloaded and I need to get rid of ‘stuff’ but I want to keep it on the regular computer.

    Thanks –

  5. Hey! I tapped to open a download and got a message asking me if I wanted to scan downloads for threats. I pressed “always” and now I can’t change the setting because it’s saying “unable to scan” on my downloaded APK. Can you please tell me how to disable that scan setting?

      1. Thanks so much. Your post is easy to understand and I’m now off to try to install one of the apps u suggested. I know where my downloaded files are but can never open them. Stupid me didn’t know I needed a certain app to open them. My emails open fine so i never thought id have to have a app for files..U live and learn I guess. Thanks again.. Kaz ?

  6. help!!I can’t open any files in my downloads foler.it say cant open file.do you know what to do.i have a motor e 2 gen Android phone.please explain what I can do.i do t have a file manager.i dont do good with electronics

    1. Which file manager are you using? Some of them can be confusing to use. Also, you might not have an app that allows you to open that type of file on your phone. For example, if you don’t have Microsoft Word or Google Docs or something similar, you won’t be able to open a Word Doc on your phone. So make sure you have the appropriate app to open that kind of file.

  7. Hey,
    Just ran across your site and at first couple of glances it looks like it’s one of the most important sources of android information out here!
    Thanks so much for making my life a little bit easier (maybe a lot ).

    1. So glad you’re finding Joy of Android so helpful, Brenda! Is there anything in particular about Android and Android devices that you’re interested in finding out more about?

  8. Sooo… Every tip and trick that you all listed above doesnt work in my case. I have literally tried everything and i dont know what to do.

  9. Method 3: File Manager is not always correct, depending on the phone, the Download folder is NOT where Downloads go from Email apps and such. They go to ANDROID/data/com.***.***/files/Download many people will never find their files just looking at the download folder of their storage.

  10. I selected PDF fill and sign to open a downloaded fillable PDF file. Now all files that I download try to open with this and will not allow,me to select PDF Reader, WORD, or other appropriate app. How can I correct this? Thanks!

  11. Hello, first, Fuck you, secondo, Thank you!

    You made me feel like shit with all your with your intro but, I understand how you feel to explain that simple thing.

    At least you provide the right answer so, Im happy. The desert made me forget about the appetizer.

    So many sentences to call the readers a noob, but at the end, we reading all that with confidence…

    I like your style.

    Nice work, will follow u

  12. I tried everything I could to try to find the Downloads folder on my Pixel 3. Then I installed FX File Explorer and it works like a charm. Thank you!

  13. Would appreciate help. I am in early stages of dementia and have a Samsung 5 phone.

    I have received 2 messages from relatives, including a download file, but I am getting a message “Currently unable to download. Please try again later”…

    Hopefully you may be able to assist.

    All the best

    James

    1. Hi James! I hope you’re doing okay. In cases like this, the file can be corrupted or your phone does not support the file type.

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