Best Android file managers: top 9 for exploring your phone

Update: Three new additions!
Best Android file managers: top 9 for exploring your phone

Android file managers tend to be quite similar, but it's the subtle extra features that make the difference between a good file explorer and a great one. Make sure you're using one of the best Android file managers around by picking one of our top nine listed below.

1. Astro File Manager: best for cloud functionality

Astro File Manager supports all major cloud services and combines a file manager for data both on your device and online.  A convenient user interface provides quick access to common functions related to managing, copying, and searching for files and data. Among its more advanced features, Astro File Manager allows you to run a task killer, application manager and archive functions. One of the main criticisms we have, however, is that Astro can be a little sluggish at times.

Asntro File Manager has good cloud functions. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. OI File Manager: best for convenience

When you’re cleaning out your Android device, it's important to keep track of what you’re removing. The approach of OI File Manager is simple: a clean design gives you a smooth experience that is intuitive and simple. You’ll find all the classic staples of a file manager app here. Support for ZIP files and APK installers, sending files via email, and linking to Google Drive are all included in OI File Manager. However, not all file formats can be opened directly from within the app, but it shines in every other respect.

OI File Manager is one of our favorites. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. X-Plore File Manager: best for digging deep

Free to use and without any ads, X-Plore File Manager offers a good overall package with impressive performance. A two-column view allows quick operation with a design that provides a generally pleasant user experience. Various cloud services and online albums are integrated, allowing you to view images, videos, and databases while working. The app's developers offer full access to the app but ask for a donation if you enjoy using the app.

X-Plore File Manager won't disappoint you. / © ANDROIDPIT

4. Solid Explorer: best for dragging and dropping and cloud storage

The double-panel display on offer in Solid Explorer allows you to navigate to two separate folders and drag and drop a file from one panel to the other. It's surprisingly simple and works so well: a standout feature in a very crisp and intuitive UI.

Other features of note are integration with cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive, and support for Chromecast.

Currently, the app is offering a 14-day free trial. After that, it's US$2 to unlock the full version, which is a bargain price for an app this good.

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Solid Explorer's twin panels and cloud storage support make it a standout app. / © ANDROIDPIT

5. MiXplorer: best for a free blend of explorers

Although unavailable through the Play Store, MiXplorer is a superb app that, as its name suggests, tries to blend the best features of other file managers into an explorer sundae. It does it with aplomb. Bearing a sensible Material Design, the looks are up there with the best, and it's completely free.

You can reskin it to your liking, there's built in support for 19 file storage services, and you can cut and copy multiple items. 

Overall, a fantastic package.

androidpit mixplorer underrated apps
You can reskin MiXplorer and make it your own. / © ANDROIDPIT

6. File Commander: best for ease-of-use 

File Commander is a fairly common Android file manager but it's also one of the best. The basic interface includes the basic folders for videos, pictures, documents, music and downloads. Click one of these, videos for example, and you will see the locations of all of the videos on your device. It's clean, clear and simple. 

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File Commander is one of the most simple ways to find files and folders on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. File Manager HD: best for finding recent files

File Manager HD was developed by Cheetah Mobile, the folks responsible for the popular 'optimizer' app CleanMaster. One of the great things about File Manager HD is that it shows your recent files on the home page of the file browser by default.

If you’re searching for a file you recently accessed, you just need to go back through the timeline to find it. This is a conveniently placed and well-designed feature.

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File Manager HD has a great timeline that shows your recently downloaded and accessed files. / © ANDROIDPIT

8. AntTek Explorer: best for the "desktop" experience

AntTek Explorer is a little less user-friendly than the others apps here, because the interface isn’t as intuitive. Some of its icons aren’t immediately recognizable, and it throws you straight into the deep end when you launch it. The 'drag and drop' format of the interface is very convenient though, and for that reason, we think AntTek Explorer is an excellent interface. 

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AntTek brings a Windows-like experience to Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

9. Root Browser: best for rooted phones

Root Browser is our pick for best file manager for rooted devices. As well as being a fully functional file explorer in its own right, Root Browser lets you change file permissions and ownership, and edit all kinds of files. Your phone doesn't need to be rooted phone in order to find, move or delete files with Root Browser, but if it is rooted, Root Browser gives you a great opportunity to do far more interesting things.

androidpit root manager file manager
Got root? Then use Root Browser. / © ANDROIDPIT

What is your favorite file manager for Android? Let us know in the comments. 

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  • I'm quite surprised that you don't have Total Commander on this list. It's completely free, no ads, supports basically everything (built-in zip-functionality, text editor and more) and has free plug-ins for FTP, SFTP, LAN (including smb), Google drive, one-drive, Dropbox and other things too.
    You can even use it to manage your apps to a degree. And full root functionality. And dual folder display.

  • I use the ES File Manager remote manager to move files from my Amazon fire stick to my laptop, over my router. What other file managers would also let me do that, via ftp using FileZilla? And firestick does not have a swipe screen like a phone, so I need a program that the stick remote to navigate. It's awkward.

  • Hello, Adam!
    I was looking for an external file manager, thanks for this amazing guide,
    Can you please tell which one will take less space(i mean less MB) and will work perfectly?

  • Absolutely do not use ES File Explorer Paid or unpaid versions. Supposedly sends to Chinese IPs and unpaid is now absolute garbage.

  • Nice article. Such Android file manager can help us easily manager data on our Android phones. With it, we can Backup, Edit Contacts and Text Messages on Computer, Manage Media Files (Video, Music, Photos, etc.) on Your Desktop PC, Install/Uninstall Apps from Computer to Android Phones.

  • I've been an ES File user for probably a decade. So I was distressed to learn abt the reprehensible actions of the developers, especially since my S Note 4 has had increasing problems. I appreciate the advice & link abt how to clean my phone. Now my dilemma is, which app do I use instead? I guess you could say I'm old school, in that I learned file mgmt from MSDOS & still think in that style. I don't use cloud services much - I have an SD card that is my go to. I need an app that will move easily between internal & external. I also used the download mgr in ES as my default bc it used to work seamlessly w/the SD card (what a mess it is now!). I also want to have a recycle bin as a safety net, having been badly burned w/o it. Can someone PLEASE direct me to the best file app for me? Or tell me if I'm too stuck in the 90s & I need to change. I've been told I'm fairly sophisticated in my dealings w/the files on my phone, which currently is not rooted (my last one was). I've tried Astro & find it inadequate. It doesn't use the SD card well, I can't scroll from pic to pic w/o returning to the individual file in between & there's no download mgr. Sorry to be so wordy. I'd appreciate any advice given. Namasté
    P. S. My phone is my only computer.

    • I'm a die hard Es (pro) user and I've surfed all at play store and google to find a better and competitive alternative to Es but believe me...this is the best to have (at least, until now). Since you are used to Es... I think it's best to be with it. Using new file manager will be a hassle..(from my experience) THANKS!

  • Hhjsdh Nov 17, 2016 Link to comment

    Yeas , you can transfer app ,data, ,contacts,messages ,photos,music,....from android to computer,you will be able to simply edit ,add,deleted ,export, which has brought lots of convenient to people ,

  • I know that a good method to manager you android messagea , you can tranasfer messages from android to computer,at the some time , you can manage them by using computer,

  • You can transfer you android data to the compter, the phone and computer is sync operation ,

  • The list given above for file manager apps is perfect to the best of my knowledge, the apps shown above are very nice and very popular. Along with file manager people also need to clean there phones to boost speed of their smartphone so to know the best android cleaning apps visit-

  • good share

  • Speaking of android file manager , Samsung Backup will be the first thought. Using it edit ,add,manage phone data fast and easily !

  • I highly recommend Gira Mobile's File Manager. Best way to browse and organize all of your files On-The-Go. You can download the app here:

  • I'm looking for an app that will let me transfer pictures and movies to a usb OTG drive. I've tried several file managers and non of them are very intuitive. There isn't much information on the apps. I've tried three or four and have not been able to figure out how to do this transfer.

  • Can't believe ES is still listed as a favorite here after it has been outed as installing adware. There is an article on AndroidPolice about it. I can't post external links yet but you can verify via Google.

  • I am using FBBlack - it is much smaller in size and I think it is faster. Also free app

  • I'd like to change what I said: since last updates, ES File Explorer has become total crap. Before that, there were few useless stuffs but now, it's full of it and of course, full of adwares too.

    So I tried Solid Explorer (2 weeks of trial) and it does pretty much everything ES File Explorer does and much more. It's beautiful, highly customizable, no blootware or adware,...
    I bought it after 2 days of trial

  • Well about time you finally mentioned the fabulous X-plore File Manager, though your review misses the excellent features - dual pane makes transferring files super easy, wifi sharing makes swapping files between devices super easy - DLNA support - full cloud storage integration makes it super easy to swap files between device and cloud storage. Full integrated media player - open apk files as zip - LAN network - SSH file transfer - Picasso support - FTP - hex viewer - full App management

    I've been using X-plore since the days of S60 and without doubt it's the best and only File Manager app you will need.

    Peace ✌

    • Pat Apr 29, 2019 Link to comment

      I've been using it for several years and for some reason it's not often included in articles recommending good file managers. I originally started using it for the convenience of the dual pane but it easily does everything I need and a lot that I don't, but you have covered everything it does much better than I could.

  • Thank you for taking the time to publish this article

    While I am fine with the file manager that my ZTE comes with? I I'm willing to replace it with a better app -- if I can remove the file manager app (why have more than one?)

  • paul t May 10, 2016 Link to comment

    Hey just recently ES file Explorer added some malware called DU CHARGER BOOST. Now I can't for the life of me disable this. Every time I charge my Galaxy Note 5 or my Nvidia Shield K1 Tablet it overrides the sleep screen so when charging I'm charging both devices when they sleep I have a malware override on the screen and it's not the Natural Devices regular charge screen. It has adds and bull crap on my sleep screen now. It's annoying and not cool. Recently I think ES company has combined forces with android malware apps like DU/ Battery Booster/Charge Booster/App Cleaner/AntiVirus/Launcher/(And Other DU brand apps)

    I loved this app because you could access multiple dropbox accounts in the cloud and easily transfer files. And you still can do all that. But now there adware and malware all over my devices so this apps Gota go.. I'm sorry but you really should investigate this more and possibly remover this app from your future lists..

    • Ok further research on the ES file EXPLORER shows it does have DU apps embedded in it. And a scan at this site proves DU is all malware and nothing else really. You have to see the reasults. I can't post scream shots here but goto this site to scan any apk.

      In any browser type this and then click the select file button, you then have follow the file structure, to find where you have placed the apk in your file system.

      The results were horrifying!!!!
      DU Battery Saver is full malware go see for yourself

  • ES and root explorer pro;-)

  • Aron May 10, 2016 Link to comment

    Used to love ES. But then it got ad infected and bloaty. Plus I installed ES App locker and THAT installed an unwanted Adware lock screen. Not OK. No I use only Solid.

  • es is best

  • Cabinet is also a great file manager. You should take a look at it

  • D Mc May 9, 2016 Link to comment

    I like Total Commander, especially for drag and drop for files

  • I use FX.

  • ES File Explorer for me too. It's really easy to use, loads of useful features,...
    And they started to clean some of the junk (folders on the internal memory, like dianxin)

    I wanted to purchase the pro version, but it looks completely different, like it hasn't been updated for a while

  • this is bad idea updating old blogs bcos everything messed up.....pls change this theory

  • I have switched to Solid Explorer from ES File Explorer and absolutely love that material designed UI.

  • For me... ES file Explorer is the best file manager.

  • It would be more helpful if you could classify the apps ( though free) with and without ads when introducing them

  • Alex May 8, 2016 Link to comment

    Es filemanager is the best I have been using ESfile manager pro for years now

  • I am surprised that Google still hasn't come out with its own File Manager app, as it appears every smartphone manufacturer comes with its own (what came with my ZTE does a fine job of managing what is in cloud storage, what is on my smartphone, and what is on my SD card).

    I would consider taking a look at these File Manager apps, provided it does not take up too much space, and would take the place of the app I am currently using (thank you for taking the time to research and publish this article) :)

  • Alex Apr 18, 2016 Link to comment

    I think ES File manager is the best!!of all File Managers ,I have been using it for years now.

  • I use classics — X-Plore… Good ol' filemanager with history. My favorite from the SymbianUIQ on Sony Ericsson M600i ( hxxp:// )
    And you forget about one of the oldest filemanagers existed — Total (ex-Windows) Commander.

  • ES is my favorite.

  • I'm with ES - if there's any knock it's that it does so many things you have to go school to learn about them (there's a good article at How-To Geek site.) I add the ES Task Manager and Chromecast plug ins to the free app. Many users install unneeded extra apps that are redundant to ES functionality.

  • "ES File Explorer: our current favorite"

    Mine too! Is... is this what it feels like to be trendy?

  • I use the ES file explorer PRO, It is very good, but I would recommend the normal ES file because there wasn't a BIG difference that actually worth paying money for.

  • Been using X-plore back when I was on a Nokia XpressMusic (man, remember those resistive touch screens?). Still using it now with my HTC.

  • I put off searching for a file manager for a long while, because the default one that comes with your phone sucks. So, when I finally couldn't take it anymore, I tried quite a few and chose 'Solid Explorer'. Done!

  • For me is ES File Explorer the best.

  •   8
    Deactivated Account Feb 29, 2016 Link to comment

    I have to admit, Es is good, i used it before. And now I am using this,, which can help me back up the data, tansfer data between device and pc, manage files on computer, which provide me a better way to manage my phone.

  •   18
    Deactivated Account Feb 19, 2016 Link to comment

    Nice & descriptive article but there is one problem that all third party apps works well for while but after some time they don't work up to the mark.

  • ES File Explorer

  • Toin Feb 18, 2016 Link to comment

    i like Amaze file explorer. skipped es. Amaza runs better.

  • FX is the one I always come back to. It does it all, simply and reliably. Highly configurable and very versatile. I only wish we had such a plethora of excellent file managers for our computers.

  • ES

  • ES File Explorer

  • I'm a very loyal user of ES file explorer.But I can't find any difference between pro and free version

  • for me ES File Explorer/Manager PRO has everything that i need & is even better if your rooted.

  • storm Feb 18, 2016 Link to comment

    I've always liked Xplore.

  • Anybody know N File Manager. Lots of features. Nice UI. It's really good, too.

  • How about Astro?? I've been using it for years, does everything I need it to do and I think it's excellent! Can anybody tell me why the file managers mentioned above are better?

  • Thanks for sharing, an mobile phone manager app can be very helpful.

    Deactivated Account

  • Thanks for sharing, saving too many files on mobile phone really need a file manager app to help.

    Deactivated AccountDeactivated Account

  • Es is the best..nothing else.

  • It's a shame that you always forget about the best rather than ones that you are paid to promote.

    X-plore is by far the best File Manager app. It is split into two panes which makes copying files between folders easy. You can have full directory access to your cloud accounts (Dropbox, Drive, OneDrive, Mega to name but a few)
    You also have full access to your Google back up photos.
    It supports DLNA folders, WiFi sharing, LAN, FTP & SSH.
    It supports app directory with the option of viewing apps as a zip file & uninstall feature.
    Also supports full root access.

    I could continue but I think I've made my point, this is the best File Manager app available.

    Peace ✌

  • X-plore File Manager. Lots of features. Nice UI. Musthave app for everyone.

  • My favorite is Total Commander. For moving/copying files is the best.

  • Yeah, the best isn't in this list, Solid Explorer!

  • Used FX for a while, but I'm always going back to Total Commander. It's free and a no brainer.

  • Rizon Nov 9, 2015 Link to comment

    You forgot about the really best: Solid Explorer - In my opinion that Explorer bypasses every of those above (don't said they are bad!). It has Split Screen actions and a good Management for Clouds/External Drives etc. and can Stream to Dongles and also to the Device itself... and its really fast & smooth.

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