Your Android phone uses its microUSB port for charging and transferring files back and forth with your PC, but what if the files you need to email your boss are sitting on a Flash drive or a full-size SD card? Fortunately, with some free software and an inexpensive adapter cable, you can attach a USB key or card reader directly to your handset. Here's how to connect your Android phone to a USB storage device.
What You Need to Connect USB Storage to Android Phones
- A USB OTG ("On the Go") cable with a male microUSB connector on one end and a female full size USB port on the other. You can find an OTG cable for under $3 at Amazon.com or NewEgg.
- A rooted Android phone: If your phone is not already rooted, you'll need to find specific instructions for your make, model and carrier. The Unlockr.com has easy-to-follow rooting tutorials for most the major Android phones from the past few years. The XDA developer forums have rooting instructions for almost every phone, but many of its posts can be difficult to understand.
How to Connect
1. Install StickMount from the Google Play market.
2. Connect OTG cable to your phone
3. Attach a USB Flash drive (or SD card reader) to the OTG cable.
4. Check "use by default" and tap OK when Android pops up a prompt that says "Open StickMount when this USB device is connected."
5. Grant StickMount superuser access when prompted. Set it to always have superuser access.
After your device successfully mounts, you'll see a notification from StickMount that says something like "Active mounts: /sda/usbStorage/sda1" to let you know that your USB storage drive is ready for reading/writing.
6. Open your file manager. If your phone didn't come with a file manager preloaded or you're looking for a better one, install Astro File Manager.
7. Navigate to the USB storage drive. In Astro File Manager, you can get to the USB key by tapping on "usbdisk" from the main menu.
In other file managers, you may need to look under the usbStorage folder in the root directory.
8. Copy, delete, move or open files as needed. Just as with your PC, you can perform any file operation on an external USB drive from your Android phone. We were even able to play video off of a USB Flash drive, but it was a little jerky because the connection isn't that fast. We'd recommend copying the files to your phone's internal storage or microSD before opening them.