2020 MacBook Air review laptop inside manila envelope1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

One of the many great things about Android is that you can easily copy and paste files to and from a Windows PC just by connecting your phone via USB. Unfortunately, things aren’t quite as simple if you have an Android phone and a Mac computer.

The official solution is Android File Transfer — a Google-made app for macOS that lets you browse and transfer files between your Android device and a MacBook or iMac. The problem? It’s buggy, inconsistent, and generally a bit awful.

Below, we’ll walk you through how to use Android File Transfer. But stick around and we’ll also show you a couple of options that will make moving and copying stuff from Android to Mac much easier!

How to transfer files from Android to Mac


Use Android File Transfer

android file transfer download

Want to stick with the official method? That’s not a problem! Here’s how to download and use Android File Transfer:

  1. Download Android File Transfer for Mac from the Android website here. Note that you’ll need to be running macOS 10.7 or higher to use the app.
  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. That’s it!

Those six steps listed above make Android File Transfer sound nice and easy to use, but anyone who has attempted this ostensibly simple process will know that it usually takes several attempts and many error messages to get the app to recognize your phone. It’s been well overdue for a full overhaul for years, but as it stands, there are legacy bugs that keep popping back up.

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.

Related: How to back up your Android phone


Use a cloud storage solution

Google Drive logo on smartphone stock photo 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The easiest way to transfer files from an Android phone to a Mac computer is likely simply using a cloud storage solution. You probably already have a favorite and use it daily, anyways. The most popular ones are Google Drive, Google Photos, Amazon Photos, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.

Doing this is as easy as uploading any file from your Android phone to your favorite cloud storage service, then downloading it on your Mac. You can either use the app or your web browser. Piece of cake!

Also read: The best cloud storage apps available for Android


How to transfer files from Android to Mac: A full solution

2020 MacBook Air review dongle with cables
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you’re only a casual user, then Handshaker is a great option with a simple, user-friendly interface, and it’s completely free. However, if you’re planning to regularly transfer files to and from your phone, you’ll want something a little more comprehensive. If that’s the case, your best bet is Commander One by Eltima, which has an Android mounting feature inside the $29.99 Pro pack.

We got to try Commander One, and it’s, without a doubt, the simplest and most intuitive tool for shifting files between your Android devices and a Mac computer. Here are a few reasons why!

Dual-panel mode

commander one dual pane - transfer files from Android to Mac

Commander One’s signature feature is its default dual-panel layout, which gives you immediate access to two folders or drives. With the Pro version, one of those panes can be used for mounting your Android devices. That means you can drag and drop files between your phone and Mac all in a single window.

You can actually add further tabs in each panel too. If you want to fling various files into different folders, or another storage device, that’s quick and easy too.

In addition, there are myriad minor bonuses you get within the two panels that blow Android File Transfer out of the water. For starters, you can actually preview your files in Commander One. You’ll know which precious photos you want to save to your desktop without checking file names. While you, unfortunately, don’t get mini previews, you can see a quick preview by double-clicking and using Quick Look.

Commander One also shows you more info about each file, including the size, extension, permissions, date created, and more. You can also turn on/off viewing hidden folders to avoid clutter or delve deeper into your phone or Mac’s innards.

iOS mounting too

iPhone 12 Pro Max scrolling display 2
David Imel / Android Authority

If you’ve got a Mac already, you’re probably not averse to the idea of owning iOS devices (I’ve got an iPad and an iMac, but try prying my Pixel away from me!). Usefully, Commander One supports mounting iOS devices, too. However, it should be noted that the function only works with the version from Eltima’s official website, not the Mac App Store version.

Cloud services and remote servers all in one place

commander one connections - transfer files from Android to Mac

Commander One’s remit doesn’t stop at your phone or Mac’s drives. You can fill a panel or tab with cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and others with the Pro version. Not only that, but it also supports connections with remote servers via FTP, SFTP, or FTPS, Amazon S3 storage, WebDAV clients, OpenStack, and more.

Comprehensive search tools

Android File Transfer doesn’t have a search bar. That means you’ll be arduously locating files manually. Meanwhile, Commander One has a search function that puts the Finder search tool to shame. It has support for Regular Expressions, Spotlight, and the ability to search for keywords within files.

Finder, but better

commander one copy files - transfer files from Android to Mac

All of these things make Commander One a superior alternative to Android File Transfer. But in all honesty, if you want to transfer casually, the $29.99 Pro upgrade is a little steep.

What Commander One really shines at, though, is being a full replacement for Apple’s Finder file manager. Finder has improved a lot over the years with macOS upgrades, but it’s still not great for power users.

Android File Transfer sounds easy to use, but there are better alternatives out there.

On top of dual-panel mode, there’s a litany of other upgrades that give Commander One the edge over Finder if you’re willing to pay the asking price. These include hotkeys, root access, in-app access to Terminal commands and process management, a built-in archiving tool, and much more that you can find listed here.

Thankfully, you can try out most of these features in the free version, which you can download via the button below. For more on the difference between the free and Pro pack version, there’s a feature checklist right here.