A big difference between Android and iOS is that Android allows every user the freedom to access their device's file system. File transfers between a computer and smartphone or tablet are as simple as plugging in a USB cable and firing up your desktop file manager. But what do you use when you need to manage your files on the go? Enter the Android file manager, a vital piece of software that, oddly enough, isn't even included as standard on some phones or tablets. Check out our favorite Android file managers.
ES File Explorer was an old favorite, providing a wealth of file management features and useful extras. Recent changes to the app — complete with bloatware, aggressive ads and app recommendations — have made the free package much less appealing. The premium version, ES File Explorer PRO, cuts out the bloat while keeping the best of ES File Explorer. ES covers all your basic file manager needs with a home screen that provides quick access to stored media and documents as well as a more familiar file explorer view for basic tasks like copy, paste, delete, and move. Convenient sidebars provide shortcuts to favorites and other storage locations, and the app includes cloud storage support for services like Dropbox and Google Drive, as well as support for FTP, WiFi SMB, and WebDAV.
ASTRO File Manager is another popular and powerful choice for Android file management. ASTRO includes both local and cloud storage management features in a single package, allowing you to organize your internal storage and SD card space, while also moving your files and media to and from cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive. A side drawer features convenient shortcuts such as network storage and cloud services, shortcuts to media files, and bookmarked locations. In addition to the file management features, ASTRO includes an app manager, a quick viewer of SD card space usage, and a task killer.
Solid Explorer is an impressive Android file manager that brings the two-pane interface over to phones and tablets while also rigorously adhering to a clean Material design style. The two independent explorer panes, combined with drag-and-drop support makes copying and moving files from different locations a breeze, and you can even set a panel to browse popular cloud storage services, such as Drive, Dropbox and SkyDrive. Solid Explorer also includes support for archived files such as .ZIP, .TAR, and .RAR, an indexed search function, and root explorer mode for rooted users. In addition to its already impressive raft of features, Solid Explorer supports a wide variety of plugins that add new features like USB OTG support, an FTP server plugin, and more.
Mobi System's File Commander is solid file manager with extra features and utilities as in-app purchases. Rather than opening in file and directory view, File Commander's home screen presents users with a series of automatically categorized "libraries" such as audio, video and documents, with buttons leading to your internal storage and mounted storage devices. File Commander also supports remote access, file sharing and cloud storage. Additional tools are available in-app purchases.
Cheetah Mobile has a variety of utilities out there for Android tablets and smartphones, so it's no surprise that it also has a file management tool, named, predictably enough, File Manager. The app opens with a home screen view of pre-categorized libraries for your photos, music, videos and documents, as well as buttons for your internal storage and other mounted drives. When working in folder view, a handy feature is a two-pane mode that allows you to quickly swipe between two different folders. The app comes with support for cloud storage management and a variety of file transfer protocols.
Ghost Commander is a file management tool inspired by Total Commander that brings its own interpretation of the two-pane navigation system to Android devices. Of particular note is Ghost Commander's support for a variety of hotkeys based on phone hardware keys. These allow you to quickly access various functions with physical buttons. Additionally, the app includes FTP support, controls that can be configured for left-handed users, and root features. Plugins add extra features like cloud storage and WebDAV support.
Gira Mobile's File Manager is another Android file explorer that's embraced the visual style of Google's Material Design, resulting in a solid all-around file manager for tablets and smartphones. The app comes with a clean single-pane view and side folder, with provisions for bookmarking folders and shortcuts for your movies, music, pictures, and screenshot folders as well as your downloads. Users can search, rename, copy, delete and share their files, and the app comes with a built-in media gallery (with GIF support) as well as support for encrypted files and an app manager. While the app is free, in-app purchases can remove apps and add cloud storage support.