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How to transfer files from Android to macOS

Android and MacOS have never been the best friends of all time. Although Android app creation is an easy feat for Apple’s desktop OS, the situation is very different for simple file transfers. There’s Google’s Android files transfer app but the software is hopelessly out of date, finicky, and prone to crashes when you’re transferring a lot of data at a time. You don’t have to rely on Google’s transfer method, though—a there’s ton of third-party apps that solve transferring files between Android and MacOS a lot easier especially when all the apps show you that the Android files transfer not working message.

Cable-bound solutions

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When it comes to creating a wired link to a device, Android relies on MTP (Media Transfer Protocol). Unlike exFAT, this will not allow your computer complete control of the device’s file system, essentially preventing you from tampering with the system partition and other sensitive data. While both Windows and MacOS have built-in support for MTP, only the former is capable of natively mounting MTP devices. In general, MacOS must rely on third-party applications to do so.

Use the cable that came with your phone to ensure its high quality and won’t disconnect during the operation, but if you don’t have it at hand, any cable rated for data connections should be perfect.

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The simple webtool: Snap drop

If you don’t want to go through the Nearby Sharing Setup, you can just open Snapdrop.net in both browsers on your computer. Then you can drag and drop files to the browser window to transfer them to your computer, or tap the random code name of your Mac on your phone to send it the other way. When you tap and hold or right-click, you can send messages that are useful when you need to copy login codes or phone numbers.

Open-source is a progressive web app that can be saved to your Android phone home screen and is designed with WebRTC, WebSockets, and NodeJS. Files are moved to your local network, but the initial handshake between your devices is set up through the internet. If you don’t trust the developers, you can host your own docker case.

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The FTP server: Solid Explorer

If you don’t want to rely on any external services that need a handshake internet connection at all, you can also use an app like Solid Explorer to start an FTP server on your Android phone and connect to it via Finder.

Once you have enabled Solid Explorer, open the Hamburger menu on the left and scroll down to the Toolbox, where you will find the FTP Server option that reveals a simple FTP address interface.

To protect your files from other people and devices on your network, you can set the user and password in the three-point menu at the top right corner.

Then press the Start button. Open the Finder window on your Mac and head to Go-> Link to the server in the menu bar.

Enter the FTP address shown in Solid Explorer and the user name and password you chose.

SMS sync and notification mirroring: EasyJoin

EasyJoin is a lot more than just a tool to get files from a to b. Like Push bullet, it lets you send SMS from your phone, make voice calls, provide mirror updates, share your clipboard, and give you remote control over your computer. The link is encrypted and local, so it does not depend on external servers to relay your data. For some of its functionality, the app uses accessibility resources. EasyJoin is $13.99 in the Play Shop. After you’ve purchased it, you can use the Pro edition on all your computers, including your desktops, and share your purchase with your family through Google Play’s family sharing.

Notification mirroring and more: Air Droid

If you prefer a locally installed application to a website, you can use AirDroid. In addition to allowing, you to send files between your phone and Mac, AirDroid can mirror your alerts, allow you to monitor your phone on your device, include a remote viewfinder, and help you locate your phone when you move it. AirDroid comes to your Mac as a mobile app (on airdroid.com) or as a properly installed app.

AirDroid is free when you use it on your local network, but if you want to connect over the internet, you are limited to 200MB a month and can’t use a remote camera. You should upgrade to a premium to solve these limitations.

Any cloud services

If your internet provider offers you a reasonable amount of upstream bandwidth, you might also want to use your current cloud service to send files from your computer. It’s possible with almost every service out there including Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Locker, and so on.

USB drive

You can still use a USB drive if you do want to physically move files. Depending on your phone, you may need some extra software to support your USB drive. There’s a paid USB OTG plugin for Strong Explorer, but you can also use the free Google Files tool. Some USB drives also have USB-A and USB-C plugs, so you can use this option if you have an older Mac that doesn’t have a USB-C connector yet.

Backups and more: X-Transfer

If you regularly connect your phone to your computer to back up your files, it may be time to automate the X-Transfer process. In addition to providing easy file transfers, the tool helps you to back up personal information such as addresses, text messages and call logs. You can repeat the transfer jobs so you don’t have to pick anything you want to copy manually. The service is available on Linux, iOS, MacOS, and Windows, although the supported features can differ.

The tool is also capable of creating a Wi-Fi Direct link if you don’t want to transfer your files over the Internet.

Free and open-source: OpenMTP

OpenMTP is a fairly new project from a developer dissatisfied with Google’s lack of Android File Transfer Tool published mid-2019. It gives you a two-pane view of the files on your screen and those on your Android phone or your SD card (or any other device that connects via MTP, really). The software supports drag and drop and comes with a set of keyboard shortcuts, however, unfortunately, some of them are not the same as those in Finder.

The tool works great with my Pixel 3, but others on the Android Police Team complain that OpenMTP doesn’t recognize certain devices at all. Like Google’s file transfer app, you can’t use it to access or edit files on your phone—you need to switch them to your Mac first. You may also disapprove that OpenMTP doesn’t feel too native to macOS (it’s an Electron app), but hey, it’s free open source, and should work well enough for most people.

Full-blown Finder replacement: Commander One

If you’re not especially fond of Finder anyway, Commander One may be for you. It’s a two-pane file manager written in Swift, and it copies and improves the Complete Commander (a.k.a. Windows Commander) feature set that is popular for. It provides several tabs, customizable hotkeys, root access, advanced search options, personalized file previews, and more.

To connect your Android phone to Commander One, you’ll need a Pro version that gives you additional features such as FTP Manager, Dropbox and Drive Integration, Process Manager, Themes, File Compression and Extraction, and Terminal Emulator. It comes with a one-time purchase of $29.99. You can try it for 15 days if you’re still undecided. Be sure to check out our thorough analysis of Commander One too.

Simple webtool: File Room

Yvone Kendi
Yvone Kendi
Writer by heart. Lover of life and technology. Helping you with simple life hacks using technology. Contact me at [email protected]

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