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File Exploration on your Android Phone

If you’ve used Windows before, you know that one of the main apps that get a lot of use is Windows Explorer. This application gives you a view of your file system and allows you to move files around, create or delete folders, etc. Users of iOS don’t have official access to the underlying file system in their Apple smartphones, though jailbroken iPhones do allow this. Android on the other hand does allow access to the file system (though in non-rooted phones this doesn’t include any of the folders that essential to the operating system). Android comes with a basic file explorer (usually called My Files) that does the trick for the vast majority of users.

However, if you want much greater control over your file system, third-party apps are once again the way to go. This particular segment has been quite crowded over the years, but in the last little while one particular app has risen to the top. I personally have long been a fan of ES File Explorer, because there is almost nothing it cannot do.

One of its biggest attractions is the way it integrates internal file exploration with connections to various file system external to your phone. The first big one (which you’ll probably use the most) is the ability to access file shares on a PC or Mac via your LAN. You can freely copy to or from these shares, and create or remove folders on your computer hard drives. Once you create a shortcut to a share, you can easily get back to it without having to re-enter paths and credentials.

Next up is the ability to do the same with cloud services. If you have cloud storage, ES File Explorer directly supports Dropbox, Box, Sugar Sync, OneDrive, Gdrive, S3, Yandex, and Ubuntu. Simply create shortcuts the way you did with network shares and you can freely copy to and from these cloud services as though...

 

 

were the same as a local network share.

ES File Explore also supports sharing via Bluetooth with another Android device running ES File Explorer. Once paired, both phones can explorer the file systems of each other and transfer files in either direction.

Finally, ES File Explorer supports FTP in two different ways. First off, you can create shortcuts to FTP servers on the internet and deal with them the same way you do with other shares. Optionally, you can become an FTP server yourself and allow others to connect to your phone using their FTP clients (on either computers or smartphones). It even supports streaming over FTP, as I’ve successfully played MP3 files directly from the file list without waiting for them to download first.

Over the years they’ve made great strides in their user interface, which has often been a sour point with many reviewers. The most recent U/I may not be the be-all-and-end-all, but it works quite well. As you open various connections (or local folders) they are each given their own page. You can then swipe between pages to easily facilitate copy-and-paste or cut-and-paste operations between these various opened connections and folders. And no one says you have to copy to and from your local storage. You can use ES File Explorer to copy or move files directly from one external storage medium to another without ever storing it locally on your phone first.

With all these methods of connecting internal and external file systems to your Android phone, you’ll quickly find that moving files around is a breeze. You may not need this sort of power on a daily basis, but I’m a strong believer in the old adage “I’d rather have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”. Given that ES File Explorer is a free app, you really don’t have any excuse not to keep this handy tool in your toolbox.

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