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 20 of our favorite Android file managers.
Google's Files Go is less a files management app and more like an assistant that helps you make the most out of your phone's limited storage space by flagging rarely used apps, files, documents, and large folders. You can then delete or back up those extraneous items to the cloud. Files Go also comes with cache clearing, the ability to view files by category, local encrypted file sharing, and backup features that let you throw files to the cloud. A full file manager app would still be helpful if you want to be detailed about organizing your files, but for quick operations like clearing out junk or sharing files with friends, Files Go is a light, resource-friendly option.
MORE: How to Use Files Go
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. Solid now also supports ChromeOS and Android TV, making it an excellent all-around option for those willing to spend a few bucks.
It's not really a full-on file manager but DiskUsage is still an excellent tool to help you organize your file system. Think of this app as an Android equivalent to the popular WinDirStat utility which provides an easily comprehensible graphical representation of your file and directory system and the space each file and folder takes up in your device's memory. The lets you quickly find out which files and folders are hogging up your disk space. The app works as a standalone tool for viewing and deleting folders, but can also integrate with more robust file explorers like Solid and OI.
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.