Moving files between Mac and Android has always been a problem. Android uses MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) to share files with a computer. Windows supports this natively, but MacOS does not.
The official solution from Google is the Android File Transfer app which is buggy and often stops working. Fortunately, there are other ways to transfer files from Mac to Android device. Let's take a look at the best wired and wireless methods.
OpenMTP, the Android File Transfer Alternative
A USB connection is still the best way to copy large amounts of data to your phone. USB 3 can be faster (depending on your router) and is also less likely to be interrupted while in transit. This is especially important when moving a single large file.
And unlike the wireless option described below, USB also works to move files both ways: to your phone and back to your computer.
OpenMTP is a free, open source replacement for Android File Transfer. You can download OpenMTP from the official website and check the source code of MTP on Github if you want.
The app offers a solid range of features as well as greater stability, which makes it better than the official Android app. It supports:
- Drag and drop USB transfers in both directions
- A tabbed layout with various viewing options
- Internal storage and memory card access
- The ability to transfer multiple files larger than 4GB in size
- Access hidden files on Mac and phone
- Keyboard shortcuts
A handy touch in the program is that you can choose different settings for your phone and Mac.
Set up OpenMTP
Before you get started, you should uninstall Android File Transfer from your Mac. There are no conflicts, but if it stays installed, AFT will open every time you plug in your phone. This means that you have to close it over and over before you can use OpenMTP.
Now connect your phone using a USB cable. Most phones or tablets will display a notification with the title in your hue Charge this unit via USB. Tap on it and set it Use USB for to File transfer.
OpenMTP will now start automatically and should connect to your phone. If it doesn't at first, reconnect the device and click Update Button above the right area of the OpenMTP app. You can now start moving files.
If it's still not responding, or if you're having other problems, check out our guide on what to do if your Android phone won't connect to your computer.
Move files with OpenMTP
OpenMTP is pretty intuitive to use. The interface is divided into two areas, with your Mac's files on the left and your phone's files on the right. Transferring files to and from your device is as easy as selecting your files and then dragging them from one side of the screen to the other.
You can navigate through the app like in a typical Finder window. Click through the folders to find the files you want and where you want to save them.
Choose camp Click the button above the right pane to switch between internal storage and your storage card, if your phone has one.
You won't be able to use the app once you've started a file transfer, nor can you cancel a transfer once it has started. So if you're moving a lot of data, it's a good idea to select all of them and do it at once rather than one file at a time. Check the box above a folder to select that folder and all of its contents.
OpenMTP also allows you to perform basic file management tasks on your phone. You can create a folder by right-clicking in the area and selecting the New folder Option from the menu. You can also move files to different folders or delete them using the trash can icon in the toolbar.
Move files from Mac to Android wirelessly
If you don't want to bother with USB cables but also don't want to use the cloud, Portal is a great place to start for wireless file transfer.
You can download Portal for free from the Play Store on your Android device. It shares files over your Wi-Fi network through a web browser. All you have to do is make sure that both your phone and Mac are connected to the same network – you don't even have to sign up for anything.
Share files with portal
To get started with Portal, set up your desktop browser — Safari will work if this is the browser of your choice — on portal.pushbullet.com.
A QR code will appear on the screen. Launch Portal on your phone and scan the code when prompted. And that's it: your phone and Mac are now connected.
Move files to your phone by dragging and dropping them into the browser window. You will start uploading immediately. It's also fast because the files don't go over the internet.
Once received, music files are sorted in the music folder and pictures in the gallery. All other files are saved in a new folder in your internal storage called portal. You can also share or open your uploaded files directly in the portal app by tapping share Button and selection of a relevant app.
Unfortunately, Portal only allows one-way broadcasts from each computer to your Android device. While Portal was previously available for the iPhone, the iOS app is no longer in the App Store.
But it's so fast and reliable – even when you work with large files – that even if you rarely use it, it's one of those pick and place apps worth keeping installed just in case.
Send files from Mac to Android
We've explored the two best ways to transfer files between Mac and Android without using Android File Transfer. You can now uninstall AFT because you no longer need it.
OpenMTP is fast and reliable, and it is one of the fastest ways to move your files. The portal is convenient because you can use it on any device with a web browser without installing any software.
All you have to do is decide which connection method works best for you – or you can use both if you want.
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About the author
(222 articles published)
Andy is a retired print journalist and magazine editor who has been writing about technology for 15 years. During this time he has contributed to countless publications and produced copywriting for large technology companies. He has also provided expert commentary for the media and hosted panels at industry events.
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