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What to do if Android file transfer is not working

You came here because you obviously have troubles transferring files to your Android device via USB. Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to experience this issue. You probably get the following error message:

Lucky for you, there are only a handful of options for you to try, and you will be able to transfer files within minutes. So, without further ado, here is what you need to do to make Android file transfer work again and pass all error messages.

If you are on a Mac, go ahead and download the Android File Transfer for Mac if you haven’t done that already.

How to get Android File Transfer to work

There are a few reasons why you might be getting an error message when trying to get files onto your device:

  1. USB cable doesn’t support file transfer
  2. Device not set up to accept files via USB
  3. You have Samsung’s Kies file transfer installed
  4. Your micro USB port is broken (sorry, can’t help you with that one)

Step 1 – Enable file transfer on your Android device

This is the very first thing you must do to ensure that transferring files to your Android device is even possible.

To enable USB file transfer go to “Settings” > “Storage” > Tap on the three vertical dots in the top-right corner of your screen > “USB computer connection” > Tick the box next to “Media device (MTP)

If you think that your problem with transferring files is software-related, try connecting your device via USB to your computer, check “Camera (PTP)” and uncheck it again. This seems to work for some people.

Step 1.1 – just happened to me on stock Android Marshmallow 6.0

Updating the post right after fixing the issue on the Nexus 6P.

If you don’t see the above-mentioned options in your Storage & USB settings, make sure to enable USB debugging and then follow this tricky sequence (screenshots also below):

  1. Detach USB cable from device
  2. Enable Developer Mode by going to Settings > About Phone (at the very bottom usually) > press on Build Number repeatedly until the pop-up appears
  3. Go to Settings > Developer Options
  4. Enable USB debugging
  5. Lock device (turn screen off)
  6. Connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable
  7. Unlock your Android device
  8. Swipe down to see notifications and press on “USB for charging”
  9. From the pop-up, select File transfers
  10. Lock the device and unlock it again

Using this method you are, basically, allowing your phone’s security mechanisms to accept file transfers via USB. For some reason this option is not available without enabling developer options, although it should be.

This method should work on all Android devices running stock Marshmallow 6.0+, like the new Nexus 6P or Nexus 5X. Please let me know in the comments if these steps worked for you, and which device you were using, so I can improve this guide for all those who might have the same problem in the future.

Step 2 – Uninstall Samsung’s Kies file transfer software (skip if not installed)

Samsung’s file transfer software often causes interferences with the native Android file transfer. To uninstall Kies you will need to download the installer first (clicking the link will start the download), and just then select the “uninstall” option within the file package.

Step 3 – Check your USB cable

Not all USB cables are created equal: Some are able to transfer files, some are not. To make sure you got a cable that can do that, go ahead and take the cable that came in the box together with your Android device. There cables are usually able to handle file transfers.

In case you can’t find another USB cable to try if it works, you should check out AirDroid. This nice piece of software allows you to transfer files to your Android device with no cable at all.

If you really need a USB cable for file transfers, get yourself a good cable, it will last you quite a while (and they are quite cheap as well).

If this post couldn’t help you, please drop us a line in the comments and we will do our best to help you and update this post to make it easier for others in the future.

Daniel Bulygin

Daniel's passion is optimizing stuff, making it work better and faster. He likes tech, entrepreneurship and the outdoors. Online Marketer | Entrepreneur | Hard Worker | Smart Thinker | Techie
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