XDA Basics: How to transfer files from Android to Mac in two ways

XDA Basics: How to transfer files from Android to Mac in two ways

It’s a popular myth that every Mac user also has an iPhone. Of course, the vast majority of Mac users likely do have an iPhone for ease of integration, but some do prefer the customization of Android. Personally, I like the Mac for it’s Unix-based operating system, but prefer Android phones that are not as locked down as the iPhone. In fact, I just pre-ordered the exciting new 2021 Macbook Pro with M1 Pro chip. The good news is that you can transfer files from your Mac to an Android phone. The actual process to do this really depends on your goals and how large the files are. In the tutorial we look at the simplest methods for transferring files from a Mac to Android. To start, we look at cloud-based solutions for syncing, then move on to a more manual approach.

Transfer from Mac to Android using cloud services

The simplest method for transferring files from your Android phone to a Mac is to use a cloud service like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive. All of these services are cross-platform compatible and you can use them on both your Mac and Android phone.

I personally prefer Dropbox, but the other options are also solid and it really comes down to preference and the feature set you need. Also, pricing can vary for plans if you need an extremely large amount of storage. If you’re using an Android phone, you likely already have Google Drive installed, so this can be a good place to start for those without an initial preference.

With this method you can simply back up all of the files on your Android phone to your cloud service (including photos), then sync that same cloud service on your Mac to access your files with ease. This method is by far the simplest solution, but it can have associated costs if you need to sync a very large amount of data from your Android phone to your Mac.

Transfer from Mac to Android using Android File Transfer

AFT for Mac

Interested in a more direct method that uses local storage? That’s also possible. Using the official Android File Transfer app from Google, you can transfer files from your Android phone to your Mac. Here’s how to download and use Android File Transfer:

  1. Download Android File Transfer for Mac from the Android website here.
  2. Open AndroidFileTransfer.dmg.
  3. Drag and drop the Android File Transfer app into the Applications folder in the Finder pop-up.
  4. Double click Android File Transfer. You’ll likely be prompted that the app was downloaded from the internet as a quick security check. Click Open to continue.
  5. Connect your phone to your Mac via a USB cable, and Android File Transfer should open automatically. Check your notifications bar and change the USB settings to File transfer/MTP mode if it doesn’t.
  6. In Android File Transfer, find the folder and/or file(s) you want to transfer. Drag and drop it to your desktop.

While the steps themselves aren’t that hard to understand or follow, Android File Transfer has a nasty history of annoying bugs. For one thing, it can be quite difficult to get the app to recognize your phone, depending on what model you have. I’ve always had good luck with Pixel devices, but less luck with phones from Samsung, LG, and Xiaomi. It’s really quite hit or miss, which is annoying considering this is the official solution from Google.

It’s also awkward to have to browse through your phone’s files in the app’s custom explorer with no previews and no quick access to your desktop folders. This is much easier on a Windows machine where you can use the native file explorer complete with shortcuts and the like.

Those are our suggestions for the two easiest ways to transfer files from your Android phone to a Mac. The cloud solution is definitely the easiest for everyone, but can have some costs associated with it. The manual approach using Android File Transfer is free and uses local storage, but it also has some annoying legacy bugs that have been around for years. There are also some paid services out there, but those can vary in price and probably aren’t worth the monthly subscription fees unless you transfer files literally each day. Let us know which method you use to transfer files from your Android device to your Mac. Now that you’ve got your file transfer situation sorted, check out some of the best Macbook pro cases to keep your hardware protected too.

About author

Jeff Springer
Jeff Springer

Applied mathematician with a love for Android. I am interested in inverse problems for imaging and integration with camera software for mobile phones.