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Every so often, I need to transfer a couple files between Windows and Android (in one direction or the other).

There a dozens of ways to accomplish this task, but I have yet to find one that is trivially quick.

I would like software recommendations for tools to transfer files between Windows and Android with the following requirements:

  1. As few steps / clicks / drags / taps / keystrokes on both ends as possible.
  2. Definitely no software that has to be kept running all the time on the Android side.
  3. Preferably no software that has to be kept running all the time on the Windows side, but not a requirement.
  4. Work wirelessly over WiFi (perferably) or Bluetooth.
  5. Gratis (freeware).
  6. Compatible with Windows 7 and Android KitKat.

What's I've tried:

  1. Email. This takes too many steps. First you need to find the file in a file manager, then you need to create an email with it as an attachment, then you need to send it, then on the other side, you need to open an email application, then open the email, and finally save the attachment. Too many steps / clicks / drags / taps / keystrokes.
  2. Samba shares. I have yet to get a Samba share reliably working between Windows 7 and Android KitKat. Looks promising, but rarely works.
  3. FTP. This is my current solution. It takes a few more steps than I would like, and I'm hoping there is something with fewer steps. The steps are to load an FTP server on one device, load an FTP client on the other device, login with the appropriate credentials (password), select the files to transfer, and finally, perform the transfer.
  • How about using the on-board features? ADB? adb push/adb pull (command-line), or some nice frontend? That's with the transfers initiated on the Windows end. If you wish it the other way around, something like FolderSync might be a choice: Define a "pair" or transfer directories, drop files into them, and on-schedule the sync takes place. Works with SMB, FTP, SCP, and a bunch of other protocols. // So: any of those you wish an answer for? :) – Izzy Jan 26 '16 at 7:41
  • @Izzy Thanks, Izzy. I'm open to any solution that involves the fewest steps / clicks / keystrokes / etc. Probably not a CLI since that involves a lot of keystrokes and involves the extra step of opening the command window. Also not something that needs to be scheduled; the transfers must take place immediately. Something with a simple drag and drop from the Windows side would probably be ideal. I tend to prefer pointing devices over keyboards for file transfers. Even when moving files within a Windows system, I almost always use drag and drop. – RockPaperLizard Jan 26 '16 at 9:43
  • I've always used SambaDroid. It's actually pretty simple to setup - install on your android - start the service - enter the address in Windows Explorer - add user+password and you're good to go. The service can be stopped when you're done so it is now always running in the background. An other solution might be AirDroid - good UI - runs in the browser on your desktop and can be stopped if not needed anymore. Let me know if something works out for you :) – benjamin Jan 27 '16 at 13:27
  • I find the USB cable a drag. The Wifi/FTP solution is pretty quick using Wifi File Transfer, a start-stop service, so I don't leave it running. Use Filezilla on the desktop. Easy peasy. Also free. A lot like benjaminS's solution, actually. :) – Dɑvïd Feb 5 '16 at 22:34
3

As you requested it, let me introduce a few candidates from my list matching your requirement of being used "by pointing device". These will require ADB setup on your Windows PC, USB Debugging enabled on your Android device, and the two connected via USB cable1.

Droid Explorer

This is IMHO the first choice for Windows users and their Android device. Its dev is active on our Android sister-site and helps out if you get any issues.

Droid Explorer Droid Explorer
Droid Explorer (source: Droid Explorer; click images for larger variants

As you've might have guessed from the screenshots: Simply drag-and-drop files from/to your Windows Explorer in order to copy them between your devices. Thus your requirement is met. As a side effect, you get a powerful device manager – though many of its features require your Android device to be rooted. Comes for free.

QtADB

To give you a second choice, QtADB provides a comparable interface:

QtADB QtADB
QtADB (source: QtADB; click images for larger variants)

Doesn't quite reach all of the functionality Droid Explorer provides, but still comes in handy – with the added plus of being available for other platforms as well (e.g. Linux). Again, you can simply drag-and-drop your files, and again you'll get the plus of administrative functionality (which again requires root for many things, of course).

Your basic requirement of simple file copy should be met by both to your satisfaction. Nothing to be installed on the Android side. Nothing you need to have running all the time that doesn't run all the time anyway. Only restriction with both: all transfers must be initialized from the Windows machine / PC.


1: though ADB can also be configured for wireless use, I will leave this part out here. If you want that, check it out over at our Android Enthusiasts sister site.

  • Thanks Izzy. I'll take a look at both of them as long as I can get them working wirelessly. That's my fault, and I apologize that I did not enable "mind reading" when I wrote the question. I knew I wanted transfers to be wireless, but it was such a basic prerequisite that I did not include it. My apologies for that omission... I'll update the question right away. – RockPaperLizard Jan 26 '16 at 13:29
  • Is your device rooted? Whatever, same page – check out these: ADB Wireless – Izzy Jan 26 '16 at 13:30
1

I too am searching for this holy grail. Right now, FTP is what I do when I need to bulk copy stuff, usually from the phone to the PC.

If you're luck enough to have a phone that has partitioned the internal storage, then you could just use a USB cable. The partition should be mounted as USB Mass storage. However, it would depend on the hardware that you have.

If you have a Samsung device, it will show up as a Media device, and there's no way around that that I know of. If you don't know what MTP is, check out this HowToGeek article and this Android Central article for more info.

On the Android Device, you'll need some kind of client to access whatever standards-based file transfer that you come up with. Total Commander has several addons for FTP, bluetooth, and Samba. The Samba works, but I usually need the IP address because name resolution doesn't work so well. Total Commander only runs when you want it to.

Hardware

Pulling the SD card or using a USB mass storage device in conjunction with a USB OTG cable will be the literal fastest way to accomplish your goals without new softwares. However, you need the right hardware for both of these to work.

Alternatives

Instead of file transfer software, you could look into file synchronization software like Dropbox or SpiderOak. These may not have a "do it now" button, but will get the files over to the PC.

A while back a Linux Magazine did a round robin of file transfer and synchronization software. Titles that I can recall are Crashplan, Seafile, and Bittorrent Sync.

I think the requirement for no software running on the Android device is going to be a tough one. While Android is mean to be connected, it's not easy for users do file transfers as easy on a desktop OS, so you're probably going to need more software on that side.

  • Thanks! Do you know if SpiderOak has an on-demand client? I find that always-running Android services eat up memory, which slows everything down. – RockPaperLizard Jan 26 '16 at 5:57

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