It doesn’t matter if you are using Windows, Mac or Linux on your desktop; all of them come with a File Manager application for you to view and manage your files. It is an important part of the system. The same goes for your Android phone. Every Android phone will come with a default file manager, though not all of them are good enough.
One of the best things about Android is the ability to quickly and easily navigate through your device’s file system. While Apple’s iPhones and iPads don’t come with any built-in way to view and manage your files, many Android devices do. Still, there are alternate Android file manager apps that offer even greater functionality. So which should you download? There are so many to choose from, and these days, most of them offer far more than simple file navigation.
Here we take a look at some of the best Android file manager apps for you to make use of them.
What Are the Best Free Android File Manager Apps
1. OI File Manager
OI File Manager is the only open-source option on our list. Impressively, it is also ad-free.
The app will let you do all the typical file management operations, such as browsing your SD card, creating directories, renaming files, coping files, moving files, and deleting files.
The app can also act as an extension for other services on your device. For example, it can work with Gmail to allow you to attach files to emails and can display “Open” and “Save” dialogues within other productivity apps.
It has an impressive 4.2 stars from 50,000+ reviews.
Download it for: Open-source and ad-free.
2. ASTRO File Manager
ASTRO File Manager has been designed with the principle of easy organization of pictures, videos, and audio files as its main selling point.
Its interface is clear and intuitive, and navigating between internal memory, external memory, and other content such as podcasts, ringtones, and downloads is fast and easy.
Features of the app include Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive synchronization, easy social media cache management, and the ability to access other locations that are on the same network.
Aside from just file management, the app backup, process management, and microSD card features are also particularly useful, and these give ASTRO a clear edge over some of its more mainstream rivals.
Download it for: Organizing your media.
3. X-plore File Manager
X-plore File Manager might have the look of an early 1990s Windows program, but it is hands-down one of the best file explorers available. 88,000 five-star ratings from a little over 100,000 reviews prove it.
Instead of trying to fancy up and adhere to the new Material Design philosophy, X-plore puts functionality firmly at the top of its agenda. It works by splitting the screen in two and putting a file on each side, with an array of buttons down the center that allow you to copy, paste, cut, move, etc.
The beauty of this that you can easily copy between folders on your device but also between your device and external storage locations. The app supports Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive, OneDrive, WebDAV, Yandex.disk, MediaFire, and Picasa, among many more. You can also explore FTP, SMB, SQLite, ZIP, RAR, 7zip, and DLNA/UPnP locations.
It will also let you explore root files without rooting your device, has a hex viewer, and has a built-in viewer for videos, pictures, and audio files.
Download it for: Dual pane, syncing with third-party services.
4. FX File Explorer
FX File Explorer blows AndroExplorer and X-plore out of the water in terms of design, but it is nowhere near as feature-rich as either of them.
Although it comes complete with external media and root capabilities, you need to pay extra if you want network (FTP, SFTP, SMB, WebDAV) and cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box, SugarSync) capabilities. Even the root explorer requires an (albeit free) add-on.
Nonetheless, it is a great option for people who don’t want complexity and just need a nice-looking, simple, and easy-to-navigate explorer.
Download it for: Seriously good design.
5. Total Commander
Total Commander will no doubt be familiar to a lot of desktop users — it has been a popular third party tool for file exploring on Windows since its initial release way back in 1993 (it was formerly called Windows Commander).
The app has a nice range of navigation tools beyond the typical cut, copy, and paste. For example, it can support bookmarks and file packaging, and it has the ability to add customized buttons to the toolbar so you can fine-tune it to your own needs.
Features include the ability to copy and move whole subdirectories, a built-in text editor, a way to send files via Bluetooth, support for ZIP files, and plugins for FTP/SFTP clients, WebDAV, and LAN access.
Download it for: Customization.
6. ES File Explorer
ES File Explorer is one of the oldest and most reliable file explorers on this list. It would actually sit at number one if only it were ad-free. It is understandable, though, as for all the time and effort the developers have put into it, they deserve some financial imbursement for their troubles. If you don’t like the ads, you can always purchase the pro version. However, I suspect that the free version is good enough, and you can always find a way to block ads on your Android device.
ES File Manager still comes with its niche gesture feature where you can record certain gestures that will perform functions within the app. It also allows you to save shortcuts to folders and files on your home screen, making it almost fully desktop-esque. It comes with built in viewers and players for various file types so you can watch videos and play music directly from it. There is also a task manager where you can kill tasks and free up some memory on your device.
It supports rar and zip compression/decompression and even comes with its own note editor. Supporting cloud storage, Bluetooth file browsing, remote file access, wireless PC file transfer, an SD card analyst, and host of other features, it is a Swiss Army knife of an app. It’s theme-able too. Some may be put off by how bloated it is with its features, the ads and its material design, but if you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades, this is your best bet.
A Note About ES File Explorer
1.5 million five-star reviews and 300,000,000+ downloads makes ES File Explorer the theoretical top dog in the Android file manager wars.
However, the app has changed beyond all recognition in the last year or so, causing a lot of people to dump it. The free version has been pumped full of bloatware, and it endlessly nags you to download additional apps via notification bar pop-ups.
Instead of being one of the most respected names in the sector, it is rapidly becoming one of the most reviled. Our advice? You are best avoiding it. But if you are willing to put up with all of that, ES File Explorer has a lot of great features.
7. Solid Explorer ($1.99)
We know this is a list of “free” apps, but Solid Explorer is one of the few paid-for file explorers that’s really worth the money.
It adopts the same approach as X-plore, with two separate windows that each act as standalone file explorers. Unlike X-plore, however, it supports drag-and-drop between the two windows, thus making organization a breeze.
It is also beautifully designed, having been recently reimagined in the Material Design mould.
It terms of features, it can read and extract encrypted ZIP, 7zip, RAR, and TAR archives, it can explore root files, it syncs with all the popular cloud services, and it will provide you with detailed storage usage statistics.
They offer a free 14-day trial if you don’t want to jump straight in.
Download it for: Best all-round app.
With all these tools now integrated into file managers, it allows a user to have less and less apps taking up unnecessary and vital space. Why would you need the Google Drive app, for instance, if most file managers allow you to manage your cloud storage? Would it be wrong for me to predict that eventually entire ROMs and OS’s will be built from the foundations of some of these file explorers if they haven’t been already?
It brings it all full circle if you have been paying attention. In the same way that smartphones aren’t really phones anymore, these Android file explorers aren’t really explorers anymore. As always, if you want to point out any blindsides in the list or want to share which ones are your favourites, leave a comment.