It’s an age-old story. File meets computer, computer wants to introduce file to its smartphone, computer can’t find the right feature for that. Transferring files (even things like high-res photos) between PC and mobile devices is often a pain, yes, but it’s getting easier.
In this guide, we’ll teach you exactly how to transfer files from Android to your PC, whether you want to use a software or more traditional hardware solution.
Wi-Fi transfer app
If your computer is connected to a nearby wireless network, one of the easiest ways to transfer files to a mobile device is to set up wireless transfer. These services specialize in porting information through your wireless network and onto a mobile device. Once set up, these services are quick, simple, and reliable, so long as your wireless internet connection is stable.
In fact, there are so many transfer services available, one of the hardest parts may be finding the right one for your PC. If you use an Android or iOS device, you will want to take a look at Portal, an app from Pushbullet. Once you download the app from your device’s respective app store and scan the website’s QR Code, you can push pictures, videos, and other files through the site and onto your mobile phone. It’s especially easy with Google Chrome because you can just drag and drop files to instantly transfer them from one device to another.
Microsoft also has its own app solution for connection Android phones and PCs, called Your Phone Companin – Link to Windows. This is actually a pair of apps for Android and PC that connect many of their functions. In addition to accessing files, phones and apps, you can use the app to take calls on your PC or see your Android notifications.
If you are looking for something a little less all-service, we are also fans of apps like Send Anywhere and FlyingFile, which are specifically designed for beaming smartphone files to your PC. Find what works best for you!
Cloud storage service
Most of the best cloud storage providers offer a reasonable alternative to Wi-Fi transfer apps. You also don’t actually need Wi-Fi for every step when using a cloud sharing service. Simply fire up your favorite browser, register for a cloud service such as OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox (but which is best?) and then upload your files. Afterward, you can download the app for your phone and — as long as you have a Wi-Fi or data connection — access the same information. OneDrive may be the easiest for new users because it comes as part of Windows 10, so you only need to download it for your Android device.
The information will remain floating in the cloud, but it’s accessible from either destination. This is useful for when you need to transfer data between different platforms, and it makes it easy to share said info with friends and coworkers.
However, both drag-and-drop transfers and cloud services have some security issues. If you’re not using a secure wireless network, then data theft is a possibility. Be smart about your transfers and sensitive information — we recommend enabling two-step verification and using a unique password (store it in a password manager) on all your cloud storage accounts.
Pair via Bluetooth
Bluetooth still has a lot of benefits in a Wi-Fi dominated age, and though pairing isn’t as quick or easy as using cloud storage, you can do it without the need of Wi-Fi. Turn on Bluetooth on your PC and mobile device, then look on your computer to see if it detects any nearby device. Try checking the Devices and Printers panel if there’s no automatic connection.
Most PCs will then move onto a confirmation task, where you have to type in a code or compare numbers. This will allow the computer to pair with your mobile device. The device should then appear in your list of connected drives when you look at your menu or file browser. On many PCs, you can select Send a File from the Bluetooth menu by clicking on the Bluetooth logo in the bottom-right corner of your screen. You can also manage Bluetooth devices more directly from the Devices and Printers panel, if necessary.
Bluetooth is a reliable method because most devices offer Bluetooth connectivity, and once paired, it’s easy to automatically pair again. If you have a very old computer and a newer mobile device, however, there may be some trouble with matching protocols — there’s also the possibility that your computer may not have Bluetooth. Although you could purchase a Bluetooth adaptor, that doesn’t exactly help you transfer those files right now.
Use Nearby Share
In the early 2000s, Google developed something called Android Beam that allowed for quick file sharing with nearby devices. Google has recently gotten rid of Android Beam altogether, but the upc0oming version of Android will have a replacement that’s now called Nearby Sharing.
Nearby Sharing works with a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct to sense nearby devices, connect, and rapidly send files. Like Apple’s AirDrop, it will be readily available with innate Android sharing services, as well as Files by Google. Also like AirDrop, you will get a notification on your other device that allows you to accept a sent file or decline it. The process appears fast and simple, so watch out for it when the new version of Android drops.
Use your USB connection
If you don’t mind working with cables, a simple USB cable can help you quickly access Android files from your PC. USB-C makes this particularly easy with its powerful data transfer and ease of use. While Android phones are increasingly likely to have USB-C, your computer isn’t guaranteed to have a USB-C port — although it’s becoming more common. You can get a USB-C adapter if necessary. With the right compatibility, it’s just a matter of connecting the two devices and access your phone just like it was external storage.
This method is very fast with USB-C, and more secure than other options like cloud transfers. But you do need to have the right cables at hand for it to work!
When all else fails, try a USB drive
While the commonplace USB drive has recently fallen out of favor due to wireless functionality and the aforementioned cloud, sometimes the best option is still using a flash drive or an external hard drive to move your files. Not only is setting up a USB connection safer than transferring your data wirelessly, it’s ideal when you want to save a lot of content and transfer it all at once to multiple devices without weighing down your wireless network.
The key is picking out the right USB device to use. Many Android devices, for example, use USB On-The-Go, which can pair with compatible USB storage devices and allows for quick transfers between your PC and Android device.