How to access files on Android devices from your Mac

Apple MacBook and Samsung Galaxy S6 Android phone

Not every Apple Mac user has an iPhone or iPad and some people have an Android phone or tablet. How can you browse the folders and files on an Android device and copy them to your Mac’s disk?

It may come as a shock to some people, but there are some Mac owners who actually prefer to have an Android phone over the iPhone. There are some very nice Android phones (and a few bad ones too), and Google offers apps and web services that work on Macs, so although the two platforms are very different, they mostly get along OK.

There are several ways to transfer photos that are stored on an Android phone or tablet to a Mac, such as syncing via Dropbox or Google Drive. Install the app on the phone and on your Mac and the two will sync automatically, or you can open the apps on the Android device and manually select photos or videos to upload.

That is fine, but if you want to go beyond syncing photos and videos and access the contents of the Android device directly from your Mac, you might hit a roadblock.

If you plug an Android device into a Mac using a USB cable, the contents of the device’s storage cannot be seen. The Mac does not mount it like a normal disk and so you cannot use Finder to browse the device’s file system. What can you do?

Get Android File Transfer

The answer is to install a small utility from the Android website. Go to android.com/filetransfer (https://www.android.com/filetransfer/) on your Apple Mac and click the DOWNLOAD NOW button - it is a 3MB .dmg file.

Android File Transfer utility for Apple Mac OS X

Install Android File Transfer

Open the Downloads folder afterwards and click the .dmg file to open it. Drag the Android File Transfer app to the Applications folder to install it.

Android File Transfer utility for Apple Mac OS X

Browse your Android device

Plug your Android phone or tablet into the Mac using a USB cable and then run the Android File Transfer app from the Applications folder. A window opens on the desktop to show the contents of the Android device’s storage.

Android File Transfer utility for Apple Mac OS X

You can browse the folders, drag files out of the window and drop them onto the desktop or into a Finder window to copy them to the Mac. The app makes it simple and easy to copy files from an Android device to the Mac’s disk.

Use the app once and you will find that it now automatically opens when an Android device is plugged into a USB port. Just a few words of warning: Don’t go poking around system folders and trying to delete things for obvious reasons. The device might not work afterwards!

Stick to folders where media files and downloads are stored, such as the DCIM folder shown in the screenshot above.

Do you use an Android phone with your Apple Mac? Tell us why in the comments below.

 

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