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Android 101: The Android File Transfer app for Mac

Android File Transfer folder
Android File Transfer folder (Image credit: Android Central)

It's OK to use a Mac if you're also an Android fan. You don't have to apologize. In fact, I'd prefer it if you don't. Use what you want. Use what works for you. Don't worry what anyone else thinks. (Chances are that's what led you to Android in the first place.)

But if you are using a computer from Cupertino, you will need an extra piece of software if you want to transfer files over USB and your device is running Android 3.0 or higher. It's not a huge deal, and it takes just a few seconds to set up. Here's the scoop:

  1. Download the Android File Transfer app
  2. Install the application. (Go to wherever it was you saved the app, and double-click it. Drag the installer file into your Applications folder. Yes. We just gave you instructions for that.)
  3. Plug in your phone. The Android File Transfer App should automatically launch if it's not already running. You'll now see the folders and files, like in the image above.

It's that easy. The only real caveat with this tool is that there's a 4-gigabyte file size limit on transfers. If you want to copy over anything larger than that -- say, a movie -- you'll need to do it via another method, such as adb.

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  • It's a little temperamental with my Galaxy GNex, but works when I need it I guess.
  • Pretty sure I never got it working with my GNex. I know I gave up trying. Fortunately I only have to use a Mac at the office and have Parallels installed there, so my workaround is simply to use Win7 instead. (I seriously don't know how I'd keep my sanity without Parallels...)
  • This is a completely useless piece of shit, as is your piece of shit article. You might as well have written "plug the phone into your asshole."
  • FU,
    Sorry Your having such a BAD experience with your Investment's! I just Purchased My, 27" iMac, and Wanted an iPad!
    ($1,600), for the One I wanted designed! I couldn't Justify That Cost, for such a Needless Luxury Item! I went to Staples, and Bought a Kindle Fire HD 32GB 8.9" ($279)! WOW, have I found My Nirvana! I downloaded, Android File Transfer, and downloaded, ALL My HD. from My iMac, to My Kindle, in Less than 5min! If I Had thought about it, I would have the 4G! But, I couldn't Feel Smarter about My Purchase! I have Always LOVED Apple products,W/ Apple Care, support, but Apple will not Help with Kindle, or any other, Non-Apple products! Amazon&Kindle, make a Great Team, "like Apple"! I went to Amazon and purchased extra Cloud GB's, and Cloud Player Premium, for a $ONG! (:LOL:) Apple Isn't the Only Game to in Town! "Research, before You BUY!" I am LUCKY!! ( Moral of this Story,= Making "Good Decisions & Research", I Got My iPad, / (KINDLE), for $279!
    I Couldn't Be HAPPIER!!!
  • woah. tell us how you really feel? Maybe you're just angry because your parents named you FU Android. or you're a 14 year old who thinks it makes you sound grown up to swear a lot and be rude anonymously.
  • This doesnot work in mac. I been trying from last 4 days.
  • This doesnt work for me as well. I have researched the hell out of the internet to try to find a solution but nothing...and it seems i am not the only one with this issue.. My iMac keeps telling me to connect using a USB and thats exactly what I have done...i guess i will have to wait till they have a fix
  • still no solution.... i have googled til my eyes hurt.
  • Does not work with my Apple Power Mac G-5. Messed up my i-Photo program but it still functions!
  • I have the same problem, I uninstalled it and will try re-installing be continued.
  • I too was very frustrated with the transfer and found nothing to solve the problem. I have multiple Apple & Android products as I see strengthens and weaknesses in both products. I use a Mac but have several android tablets. This is how I transfer movies....I take the movies from my itunes files and drop them into the "smart converter" software changing them the android format. I put the Android movies into a folder on my Mac labeled "android movies". Then with each tablet I remove the external mini SD card and pop it into my Mac with an SD adaptor. I simply drag and drop the movies from my mac onto the mini SD card for the android tablet. Once I'm done I pop it back into the android tablet and the kids enjoy the movies. I realize this takes a few more steps then simply plugging in the usb cord and connecting the android to the MAC but it is a necessary evil when you enjoy both products. Hope this helps :)
  • Still sucks that Google took out the common, universal, and break-DoubleTwist-Sync-If-You-Don't-Have-It USB Mass Storage mode ¬¬
  • +1000
  • I still don't understand why it's soooo bad to include that mode. Makes life so much easier.
  • The ONLY reason I use a Mac is because I dislike Apple far less than I dislike anything Windows based, lol. If Google gets an open-source OS going that fits my needs, I'll jump ship in a heartbeat.
  • There are more than just two choices.
  • :) Says the guy with the penguin icon. I agree with the Mac > Windows argument for my home and work computers. Unfortunately, Linux just isn't all that pleasant to use on a regular basis. There are still far too many things an average user has to drop to a command line to do. Not to mention, software package installs are confusing for most people that don't understand what they're doing. Monitor syncing/settings in a variable environment of TVs, monitors, and panels is problematic a lot of times too.
  • You might as well take a shit inside your computer.
  • FU,
    I Like Your Style! You Say Just What You Think! I couldn't let Your Post Pass, without My comment, to You!
    YOU GO BOY!! Keep-Um-Coming! I will Laugh about this for quite a while!
    F-ME! (:LOL:)
  • FU, It seems that you have an anal fetish, with all this talk of sticking things in your arse! I take it you're a windows bloke?
  • Just a tip - it doesn't work well for file folders that have thousands of files in them (such as my Music folder on my SD card). Spinning beach ball of death. Seems to work fine for other folders that aren't overloaded though. I've had to use AirDroid when transferring music over since I have that one bulky folder on my external SD card.
  • Man I was really excited to try this then I read your comment haha. I need a good program for transferring my music to my sd card in my gnote2. Kies for Mac blows. So i wanted to try this, still worth a shot I suppose.
  • if Kies is installed on your Mac, it won't work. You need to uninstall Kies to get AFT to work. Use the installer app, don't drag it to the trash. I think this is the problem everybody with Samsung phones is having when trying to use this.
  • Thanks for tip. After searching around for a solution, i found this and it solved the problem.
  • sorry, I am not a computer guy but npot toally incompetent.. what installer app? since i read your comment I have ebeen looking.. like 2 hours..I unfortunatly did what you said not to do (moved to trash) and now I cant find kies or any installer app anywhere to try and remove it or any program. my mac wont even recognise my phone is attached.. it charges but thats it. I just want my music files on my phone..
  • Air Droid is the only option i think which is good but less secure.
  • I'm really not getting why you guys don't just use USB Mass Storage. I've used it with every Android device I've ever owned (Galaxy S I, II, and III, Transformer Prime, etc...)
  • Are you doing that on a Mac or PC? This is about Macs. I discovered this tool last night when trying to unlock and root my Nexus 4 with my MBP. The problem with Macs is that it doesn't naturally see the phone when it's attached in its normal state; it showed as a drive when booted in recovery. I can't recall where it popped up to direct me to, but I got the program and it sort of worked. The big problem is that it's only good for dragging files back and forth to the phone. You can't rename files as I discovered I'd overlooked the part in the instructions to rename the recovery to recovery.img. I had to rename it on the MBP and then retransfer.
  • Sorry, I should have clarified that indeed I am on a mac running Snow leopard and all my Android devices are running Jellybean 4.1.2 and USB Mass Storage works perfectly for me. It always has. I didn't even realize this was an issue. Have I just been lucky?? Is it due to the fact that I'm rooted running custom ROMS? When I was stock ICS I still had no problems with USB Mass storage.
  • Google decided that USB Mass Storage wasnt worth it due to the fact that Android would lose access to the card while plugged in, so they dropped it in newer versions of Android. OEMs have it backported to older devices, but most newer phones and tablets use MTP instead which, IMO, is garbage if you're not using Windows. Glad to see this posted. Before I returned my Infinity, I fought quite a bit with my Linux machine to get MTP working. I was planning on getting a Nexus 10 pretty soon, and wasnt looking forward to getting MTP set up again. At least this makes it sting less. Edit: Whoops, this was supposed to be a reply to doug3673.
  • This doesn't work with my Galaxy S 3 though. It got broke with a combination of phone update and Mountain Lion. There was a Google post on a blog about an update coming soon to give better GS3 compatibility, but that was weeks ago and haven't heard anything more.
  • Same here / MacBook Pro- OS X 10.8.2 doesn't seem to play nice with the S3. When I first got the phone it worked perfectly, plugged in the S3 and the app just launched... Hope the update does eventually come.
  • Whats ADB???? I neeed this program to transfer movie files....thanks
  • WARNING: After you run this app once, it will automatically start every time you plug your phone into your computer. Apparently Google doesn't think you know how to start apps all by yourself. To stop it, follow the instructions in this thread:!topic/mobile/3hPIZjP0rDo
  • That's because Google, just like all the other developers on the planet are a bunch of stupid fat assed fucks that don't know their fat ass from a big fat hole in the earth.
  • Why not use AirDroid??? Easier and no cables!
  • 1. See here: :P
    2A. While AirDroid (and other FTP apps) are nice, some people don't want to risk transferring their files in public Wifi areas where anyone with the right software can intercept whatever you're transferring.
    2B. Transferring files via cable is generally faster and also has the added advantage of charging your device while you transfer (even if it's only connected for a few minutes).
  • LOL I didn't see that!
    anyway, I was thinking about transferring files home not in public wifi, but you're right, sorry for those without USB Mass Storage device mode!!
  • This is the one reason I'm happy with Motocast. It allows syncing for my razr, and I don't have to deal w/ the android file transfer. Just wish I had something similar for my acer iconia. File transfer likes disconnecting my devices half-way through a transfer, and I have to go back and figure out where it stopped. Sometimes use XNJB for the iconia, but that can be a pain sometimes too.
  • This app saved my life. I've used Windows for more than 10 years and I decided it was time to try something different. Then I bought my first Mac. It's very nice and not so different from using a Windows PC. But the problem came when I tried to move files from Android to Mac and vice-versa. Android File Transfer does work and is very simple to use. HINT: don't use the keyboard command "Command+C / Command+V" to do it; just drag and and drop between folders because it only works this way.
  • And you saved my sanity - I was about to give up and look for a different app, because I couldn't copy a flippin' file ... I'm a keyboard junkie, so didn't try the mouse drag-and-drop method *doh!* Thank you! Now if only I could get iPhoto to recognize it as a drive ... *sigh* I may have to go all script-y on my mac and make an automatic "copy files to ATFdownloads and import them to iPhoto and empty folder after" thingmy ... when I feel like figuring that out.
  • thnx a ton..was going crazy
  • Been trying for a couple days now and keep getting
    "Could not connect to deviceTry reconnecting or restart your device"
    I reconnect and still get the message
    Any ideas to make this work? And for a good music transfer I found Rocket Player works real well
  • I've never needed an app on my Mac.
  • As far as I am concerned, Android File Transfer stinks of cum and wank, and that common smell of fail that comes with software from people who resent the platform they're being made to design for. No software should ever present a dialogue telling the user of something that Really Isn't Okay, that can only be dispelled by pressing a button marked 'OK' - and Android File Transfer has a myriad of ways of failing (in a stinky cummy-wank sort of way) that presents you with JUST that kind of meaningless dialogue box. Unbelievable. Two Unix boxes, one USB cable, and a boundless selection of ways of arriving at stinky fail. And these people think that that's 'Ok'? Richard Stallman actually started the Free Software Foundation because of people like these ones! Must we really have to write everything from the ground up, ourselves, if we don't want it to stink of cum and wank or live in a world where the stink of cum and wank are 'OK'?
  • It didn't work for me. It didn't detects any in the usb port, it ask me to reconnect the device. I have galaxy s3 4.1.1 and mac osx 10.8.2. Please help me. Thanks.
  • I use the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and used AFT perfectly for a couple days then it stopped working for me. Now I use AirDroid. Not one issue. Primarily use it from home and so not concerned with privacy issues.
  • I'm new to Android & I found AFT worked 1st time on my S3 ... then I couldn't get it to work again as getting the 'reconnect again' as per other users. But after turning 'On' > Settings > Developer options > USB Debugging it all seems to be working fine now. Hope this helps someone. Now if I can only get the ADB to work ...! okay, maybe i jumped the gun. I now think it is just pot luck. It seems to be random, I just keep plugging & unplugging the USB & it can take anywhere from 3-10 goes (regardless of USB debugging settings).
  • Tried that too, still not working :(
  • I'd just downloaded 5.4GB of videos and photos on an iMac from my Galaxy S3, not a single hiccup! I have a new iMac and just used the usb cable the came with the phone. I downloaded the Android App, opened manually and dragged the files. Just like that. I'm really impress for the first time didn't have compatiblity issues.
  • It's very temperamental for me. MacBook Pro 10.68. Hooks via USB to Acer A500 tablet. I can see the entire folder structure and send files to the tablet, but getting them from the tablet works in some folders and not others. Thinking it was a permissions thing I tried creating folders on the tablet for the tablet (no joy) and then creating folders from the mac on the tablet.
    If I save a file from the mac to the tablet, and move it around on the tablet using a file manager app on the tablet, I can no longer see the file from the mac when I navigate to that folder it got moved to - yet the original can still be seen in the original folder it was sent to but cannot be selected
    For the files I create on the tablet in say Documents to Go Pro, I can't see them in the folders I saved them to on the Mac when hooked via USB. - yet I can see others that I saved as in Documents to Go Pro that started their life on the Mac.
    What's going on here? Is it a refresh issue? I've tried disconnecting and reconnecting. Is it a permissions thing? Sometimes I can drag and drop to the mac and other times it just moves the whole folder around on the my screen and I can't select that single file I want to move.
    I had a similar problem with a Galaxy Tab 7". I could mount the tablet on the mac but I couldn't transfer to it - almost as if the drive was locked. but I could pull from the tablet to the mac no problem.
    I can find no where to set the permissions flags on files on the android.
    Or is it just that it's not ready for prime time yet?
    BTW, USB debugging is set to On in the settings for the tablet.
  • Ok I just uninstalled "kies", re-installed android file transfer, still does not recognize my device. If anyone can help me I'd appreciate it.
  • Solution for Mac 10.8 Moutain Lion users with Samsung Note 2. 1. Install Samsung Kies.
    2. Install Android File Transfer.
    3. Uninstall Samsung Kies.
    4. Presto...Working like a charm here. **NOTE: Make sure you use the Kies Uninstaller or it won't work.** I recently installed the newest Kies which seems to work now for MacOSX, but it seems too limited so I wanted to use the AFT again. Just use the uninstaller for Kies (if you still have AFT on your machine) and it still works. Last tested 5 mins ago. Hope this helps...
  • That's the problem. The piece of shit kies fucked up the system.
  • please some smart person post the solution! seems we are all having the same problem there has to be a solution out there! please help!!
  • Solution for Mac 10.8 Moutain Lion users with Samsung Note 2. 1. Install Samsung Kies.
    2. Install Android File Transfer.
    3. Uninstall Samsung Kies.
    4. Presto...Working like a charm here. **NOTE: Make sure you use the Kies Uninstaller or it won't work.** I recently installed the newest Kies which seems to work now for MacOSX, but it seems too limited so I wanted to use the AFT again. Just use the uninstaller for Kies (if you still have AFT on your machine) and it still works. Last tested 5 mins ago. Hope this helps...
  • For Samsung phones ^^^^^ this is the fix for OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion). I had no issues when I was on snow leopard with AFT, but this one is on apple not on google or microsoft or whomever others blamed...AFT worked perfectly before on Jelly Bean with snow leopard, then Mountain lion broke it. I think apple took out a driver...probably outta spite (wouldn't surprise me). Thanks to M Statton for the find...been looking for months for a fix.
  • I had quite a bit of trouble with AFT and after searching high and low, it appears that "FTP Server (demo)" is more than sufficient for media copying wirless and without the need of an FTP Client (Finder does it just fine). (source)
  • For those of us who aren't super techie, what is FTP Server (demo)?
  • I am facing an issue here. When I connect my nexus 4 to the mac using this app it does show all the files but am not able to find the files on the internal memory drive. I can see a folder which has files when I see it through my folders on the phone but the same folder does not show any files while connected via usb to the mac and via this app. There were more folders which were not shown. Is there some other way to get all the folders to show up on this app which are present on the phone?
  • Android transfer has worked for the past month, since I got my Galaxy S4, but now it's saying it can't find my phone. What gives????
  • One solution I found was an app called Bump. It was recently acquired by Google and syncs over wifi. It's a simple select or drag drop of files depending on which way you are going. Go to in your browser. You can transfer from android to iphone, android to computer, iphone to computer, anything without using NFC.
  • I can put my files into the pop up window, but i can't find the files on my nexus.
  • The application is great, connects instantly to my Galaxy 3s, but in your article, the screenshot shows the Android device file system including hidden files (.filename). When I connect my device, I can't get to see hidden files and folders. Is there something else I should do?
  • If you are using a Samsung device, and you've ever had Kies installed, that might be the problem. If you had it before, and uninstalled manually (without using the Kies Uninstall app) you will still have this problem. If you have Kies, did have Kies, or you're not sure if you ever had it, download Kies for mac from Samsung, run the install and then choose the uninstall option. After the uninstall is done, reboot. Then try Android File Transfer again.
  • You can have Airdroid or Web PC Suite installed on Android phone and connect it with your Mac, both will work for wireless file transfer via WiFi.
  • How to Transfer files from your Android phone to your PC / Mac computer. AFT would not work on my iMAC running OS X 10.10.2, Yosemite, I tried several techniques to no avail. Gave up, downloaded Kies and problem of video download (and other file types) solved. Suggest this to other iMAC users frustrated with ATF.
  • I am having a tiny crisis. Upgraded to yosemite and now I can't transfer files from my android using AFT. Also, I don't know how it happened but all the photos in my gallery are gone but the videos are still there. I guess one crisis at a time. Can you help?!?
  • I have found that with Yosemite AFT will work with the SD card, but not with the phone memory.
  • Just moved over to Android and AFT works great with S6 and Yosemite. I just have half screen iTunes and half screen of the file system of my S6 and drag & drop
  • Unbelievable. I installed AFT and at first it was working fine. Then it started crashing. I used it to transfer photos from my trip. It crashed a few times but then it looked like finally everything transferred fine until I looked carefully and it didn't catch all the dates/files. Of course bloody hell this was after I trashed all the pic files off my S4 phone to save needed space. I dragged them into my trash bin on my MacBook Air Yosemite. When i went back to try and retrieve them from my trash bin they were not there. I never set my trash bin to auto empty for this reason. Why can't I find them there? I was using AFT with an MTP connection. In the meantime AFT crashed several times. I could care less about getting AFT to work but I want my damn photos back. Does anyone know how to retrieve files from either a Galaxy S4 phone or a MacBook Air? I'm desperate!
    I heard you could retrieve deleted files from a phone by rooting it. I once tried to do this to no avail because the app was bad.
    Someone please help. They are very special pictures of Iceland landscapes for my artwork.
  • AFT is quite good, but... wires, third party software. Needs too many to have. For photos transfer as for me - the best solution is htp:// - it is free as well and there is no need to install anything but QR code scanner (think you already have it)
  • so i admit before even posting this that I'm a noob in a forum of experts (cuz all forums seem to be full of those.just my personal experience but here goes..)
    i just got a nexus 6P . I have the iphone 6+ and the ipad pro and blah blah blah...
    i'm just irritated that androids are so fkn difficult for second best (imo). In attempting to transfer a simple ringtone file using the file transfer mentioned here (the ringtone is d/l but it won't show on the nexus unless i d/l it from a computer back onto the nexus , hence Macbook pro).
    when i plug the 6P into my macbook pro, other than give me a warning saying that "it appears my (6P) screen is locked and i need to unlock it to proceed" it goes nowhere. The screen is not locked.
    If anyome has any ideas that aren't way beyond the addlebrained limitations of a college sophmore it'd be appreciated. I'm going to learn how to triumph over android (i've already made major strides with windows 10) even if i have to fkn drop out of school to be vindicated.
  • Samsung Galaxy Android phone to Macbook Pro.
    I had the same problems. You could:
    1. Listen to the ill-tempered comments on this thread and assume AFT doesn't work, or
    2. Do a little searching and find a solution. That's what I did and got it working pretty quickly. As mentioned by others, I just needed to uninstall Samsung’s Kies file, after which AFT worked fine. Look it up.