One of the sweetest advantages I find in Android over iOS and Windows Phone, is the ability to use an Android device as a USB mass storage medium without any strings attached, and with that, the ability to go through all these contents right on your mobile phone or tablet. Delete, copy, move, rename are all very powerful options that otherwise, are way more restricted on an iPhone and a Windows Phone device. Not surprisingly, the Android market is flooded with file management apps, and a new user is left bewildered with the choices at their disposal. Which one would you pick if you were new to Android and why? It is to answer this question we have grouped together, what we believe, are the 10 most brilliant file explorers for Android out there today.
Easily the most popular and most needed app out there today. This app, despite being a paid one, appeals through it’s core functions, that are to access system files on an Android device and gives you read/write access within those folders as well. To say the least, any Android device that has root access, deserves to be running Root Explorer, for you will find yourself in need of it almost every time.
The UI on this app is extremely user-friendly, and the app will see all your file exploring needs satisfied. Accessing your files is a given, but the app lets you connect to cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Baidu Cloud, Box.net and a few others, access FTP servers, share content over Bluetooth, Web and more as well. To add some eye-candy, the UI can be overhauled with some themes as well. You can get this app for free of the Play Store; however, if you want root access for system files, you will have to purchase the Pro version.
ES File Explorer
Boasting what is easily one of the finest user interfaces an Android file explorer can offer, ES File Explorer has a plethora of features to offer, including root access, for free. Access files over LAN, FTP, Bluetooth, Internet (box.net, Dropbox & Sugarsync), manage your apps or use it as a task manager, you name it, ES has got it! Oh, on a side note, you can theme up a few things in the UI as well.
MIUI File Explorer
When I first used the MIUI ROM on my Desire HD, the one thing that really caught my attention – apart from iPhone like UI – was the inclusion of a native File Explorer. With a very well and neatly laid out interface, the app can filter content based on music, videos, zip files, pictures etc. Moreover, you can also access content over FTP, which is set up in a single tap and you’re good to go. Earlier only available for MIUI ROMs (bundled with them), the app has now been released for the public owing to the popularity it received. MIUI File Explorer is a to the point, simple, no-nonsense file explorer app for Android. Click here to read our detailed review on MIUI File Explorer.
File Manager ES
Dual-pane, you say? File Manager ES takes that concept a step further, letting you open as many different file browser panels on a single screen as required. You can move files from one directory to another by simply dragging and dropping them on the desired directory. Much like a history function, the app lets you bookmark important directories that you navigate through often. It supports swipe gestures to help you navigate through the various file explorer panels easily. To add icing to the cake, the app gives you root access to complete system files as well, for free! Click here to read our review on File Manager ES.
FileSlick is yet another file explorer app that uses swipe gestures as part of its navigation functions in and out of folders, as well as boasting some pretty slick aesthetics. The app goes on to offer some complex functions as well, such as toggling read/write permissions for various mount points, modifying user permissions for root mode and Server Message Block (SMB). With a lot more to offer than the points made here, click here to see our review of FileSlick for Android.
Not released to the Play Store even after all this while, the app certainly deserves some attention. Sporting Dual Panes, “file selection in Total Commander is even easier. Tap on the icon/thumbnail of a file to select it. You can select multiple files at once in this manner. To open a file, just click on its filename.” The app supports a built in text editor, along with the ability to handle encrypted ZIP and RAR archives. For more on this app, click here to read our full review.
They say, Total Commander got it’s que from Ghost Commander, and well, all we know is that Ghost Commander was the first on the scene with a dual pane for exploring files. In addition to the features offered by Total Commander, you have thumbnail views, favorite folders and a built in text editor. That said, the UI isn’t exactly the most pleasing we’ve seen so far.
One of the most comprehensive file managers out there, and well, to be honest, it’s more than just a file manager. It is a Task Manager, APK Manager, App protector, File Manager, Backup & Restore tool, Auto Scheduler, all built into one package. Super Manager allows you access to root level files as well, and lets you extract APKs from installed apps and much much more. You have to actually try this app out to understand the plethora of functions it offers.
Aptly titled as a Swiss knife for Android devices in our review, Android Commander is a lot more than your average file explorer. With a desktop client for interfacing with your Android device (of course, you’ll want root access), Android Commander is your one stop shop for exploring all the the content in your device, installing apps straight from the PC, installing and copying stuff into root level folders and a lot more. With well laid out graphics and information, the application is actually much easier to use than what it may appear from reading this. Our comprehensive review of Android Commander is linked above.
This concludes our list of what we believe to be some of the most important and effective file explorer apps out there for the Android devices.
Honorary Mention: ASTRO File Manager
Oh wait, we missed out ASTRO File Manager! One of the oldest file manager apps out there, the app is still kicking and has some awesome features out there to offer. App backup, built in image viewer, text editor, download manager etc. This is an honorary mention for a true veteran! The app has pretty much those functions to offer that most other File Explorers offer as well, and this by no means suggests that Astro File Manager fails in comparison to those apps. Alongside an SMB and Bluetooth plugin to add OBEX FTP support for browsing devices and sending/receiving files using Bluetooth networking, the app goes on to offer a totally free ASTRO Backup, a cloud service of its own.
Do you have a favorite? Did we miss out on an app you’re crazy about, and feel we should have featured here? Do share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments section below.