Most Android devices don’t come with a pre-installed file manager or file explorer.
On Android access to files is normally via an App. This means that if you want to manage photos then you do it through a photo App etc.
Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way, and being able to move around the file system is very useful, especially if you need to move files between systems .e.g. a tablet and a PC.
Note:- Android File System is very different To Windows.See- Understanding Android file and directory structure.
There are 100s of file managers or file explorers to choose from, and most are free.
In this tutorial we look at using the popular Astro file manager. It is a comprehensive file manager that lets you manage files on:
- Android internal storage
- External storage cards (sd cards)
- Cloud storage .e.g. Google drive,Dropbox etc
- FTP server
It has also has a familiar interface similar to windows file explorer.
When you open the Astro file manager it opens showing you the contents of the primary location, which is the internal sdcard.
Astro file manager uses locations to denote the main file sources. Google drive would be one location and Onedrive would be another location.
You can move between locations using the left facing arrow at the top.
You can then select the location from the list. You should note that external sd cards don’t have a location but appear under the mount directory.
You can consider the sdcard folder as your personal storage space. You can add folders, and move and copy files into this folder.
It also contains folders and data created by Apps.
You can use the up arrow to move to a level above your personal space, and with Astro file manager you can go to the root of the file system as shown below.
Note: This can be dangerous as this is where the system files are stored and so you should not normally do it.
Many file managers explorers restrict you to your sdcard folder.
Below is a screen shot taken using a very simple file manager that came pre-installed on one of my tablets.
You can see that you can only access your internal sdcard and the external sdcard folders.
If you have an external sd card you can find that under the mnt folder as shown below.
Copying and Moving Files and directories
The first thing you need to do is select the file or directory by long pressing on the file/folder.
Once you have selected the first one you should notice the number in the top left of the screen.
Now to select additional files just press on each file. (normal press).
Once you have selected the files you can copy them by clicking on the copy icon in the top right next to the menu bar.
Now you need to navigate to the location you want to copy or move the files to.
Once there select paste (bottom of screen) to complete the copy/move.
Note: I couldn’t copy to an external SD card but could copy from the external SD card (android 4.2). There is some permission issue but I don’t know if it is fixed.
Copying or Moving Files to Google Drive
There are two ways of copying files to Google Drive.
- Using share feature
- Adding Google Drive as a location
Using Share Feature
The easiest is to use the share feature, but it only works in one direction.
In the Astro File Manager select the files or folder as per above and click on the menu icon in the top right and select share.
From the activity chooser select google drive. A menu opens allowing you to select a Google Account and a folder location.
Click on save at the bottom of the screen to complete the move/copy operation.
Here is a video I did that explains how to coy files between folders on a tablet,and to Google drive.
It also has a basic overview of the Astro file manager
Because most android tablets/phones don’t come with a file manager or file explorer you will probably need to install one from the Google play store.
Having a file manager makes it much easier to move and manage files on your device.
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