You might be wondering why we're rounding up file browser apps if the latest Android smartphones already come with perfectly-functional versions. Frankly, there's too many in the Play Store not to highlight the ones worth checking out. And if you're a frequent device hopper, switching between your phone, tablet, and Android TV device, you might be looking for a file browser with a bit more functionality than what the default Google, Samsung, and Motorola versions have to offer.
Mobile file browsers work similarly to the desktop versions of these apps. They enable you to shuffle around files and folders between directories or compress them if they're too big to share through traditional channels. Some of them even tack on abilities your Android device doesn't have, like FTP and SFTP file browsing and integrated access to your cloud accounts. Here are a handful of file browser apps that offer these sorts of features, and more.
Total Commander is based on an already tried-and-true desktop app of the same name. Despite the relative nostalgia trip of the developer's website, Total Commander's features line up with that of the competition, giving credence to its name.
Like the desktop app, Total Commander enables you to drag and drop individual files and entire subdirectories within your device's internal storage. Take it a step further by downloading plug-ins from Total Commander's website to enable features like FTP and SFTP access and uploads to Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox. The app offers customization features akin to that of a desktop app, too, including the ability to configure font size and type, switch between Dark and Light modes, and enable notification sounds. There is a bit of a learning curve for navigating the file structure, as Total Commander utilizes arrows around the interface's edges. However, they become more straightforward after a bit of use.
If you're hunting for a file explorer with an interface that looks like it came installed by default, Solid Explorer is indeed a solid choice. The app is designed according to Material Design standards and is relatively intuitive to navigate. The one floating action button lets you create a new folder or an empty file, or connect to a cloud service, including Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox. You'll see an additional icon pop up on any folder that belongs to a particular app. There's also a built-in FTP and SFTP client. Solid Explorer offers a few other plugins in the Play Store, including a USB OTG plugin to view files off external storage. For those with files that need to stay private, Solid Explorer offers password protection per folder or file, with the ability to unlock using your fingerprint. And if you're frequently dealing with external storage on Android TV, Solid Explorer facilitates the ability to drag-and-drop files between devices.
You can try these features free for 14-days. After that, it's $2.99 to support the developer and unlock full functionality.
Simple File Manager
Keep it simple with Simple File Manager Pro. Like Solid Explorer, the app is designed within the Material Design schematic, including using one floating action button to add a new file or folder. Simple File Manager Pro only works with localized files, however, and though it doesn't offer access to exterior cloud accounts, you can navigate root files, SD cards, and USB files within the app. There's a password protection feature, and a light file editor that lets you edit and print text files. It's also a very light app, weighing in at only 2.4 MB.
Astro File Manager
Astro File Manager is a file browser that feels like it's hooked into the system. The app offers a quick look at what's taking up room on your internal storage from the first screen. There are helpful bookmark links for tackling files and folders by category and information on the origin date—long-press on the interface to bulk select files and folders to delete or move around. There's also a Favorites feature for accessing files and a "clean" feature that offers suggestions on what to remove to free up space.
FX File Explorer
If the up-front security permissions in Astro File Manager leave you feeling uneasy, FX File Explorer runs in the opposite direction with its guarantee of absolute privacy. Every security permission is optional.
FX File Explorer is a sound file browser. You can easily search files by name and type, and a straightforward cleaning feature that points you to the files and folders taking up the most space without attempting to analyze their significance in your usage. FX File Explorer can open archived files, too, and it even works with more sophisticated Android-based devices, like Android TV. You'll need to pay for FX Plus to unlock file sharing over Wi-Fi, network access, and cloud storage access. But you can opt into a 7-day trial of those premium features before you commit.
Another lightweight, open-source option is Material Files. Many folks like this app for its Google-ified interface, but some also love the fact that Material Files is Linux-aware.
Once you fire it up, Material Files picks up on whether you're running dark or light mode, and you can choose between the old Material design or the latest flavor. For those who want a file explorer that opens on one particular directory every time, Material Files lets you set a default directory or bookmark other files and folders that you often access. Material Files also allows you to adjust individual permissions for each file, and there's even a built-in ID3 tag editor for compatible audio files.