How to Manage Files and Use the Android File System


Android file manager.
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Android devices include a built-in file manager typically called “My Files” or just “Files.” It can be used to access downloads and unzip files. There are many third-part file manager apps available in the Play Store.

One of Android’s best features is its file system and file manager apps. You don’t have to wonder what’s taking up space—it’s all accessible to you. We’ll show you where to find certain things, and share some great file managers.

Where Is the File Manager on Android?

The built-in file manager on Samsung Galaxy devices is called “My Files,” while Google Pixel phones and some other Android phones use the “Files by Google” app. Regardless of device, the file manager is typically named something like “My Files” or just plain “Files,” and it can be found in the app drawer.

Another way to find the file manager is to install an app called “Files Shortcut.” As the name implies, this app is simply a shortcut to the stock file manager found on every Android device. It will probably look different than the file manager included by your phone’s maker. There are no permissions required for the app—it’s literally just a shortcut.

How to Find Downloads on Android

Downloaded files will be saved to the aptly named “Downloads” folder in your device’s file manager. To begin, open the file manager on your Android phone or tablet. In this example, we’re using the stock Android file manager, which can be launched with the “Files Shortcut” app.

First, open the file manager on your Android device. You may see the “Downloads” or “Download” folder immediately.

"Download" folder.

If you don’t see the “Downloads” folder on the first screen, navigate to the “Internal Storage” section.

Go to "Internal Storage."

Now you should see a “Download” folder.

"Download" folder.

All of your downloaded files can be found in this folder.

Inside the "Download" folder.

The process is similar if you’re using the “Files by Google” app. First, open the app on your Android device and make sure you’re on the “Browse” tab.

files by google browse tab

Tap the “Downloads” option, and then you’ll see all of your downloaded documents and files.

downloads in files by google

That’s it! In the vast majority of cases, anything you download from a web browser like Google Chrome will be saved to your Android device’s “Downloads” folder.

How to Unzip Files on Android

To unzip files on Android, you’ll need to use Files by Google or another file manager app to locate and extract the contents of the ZIP file. We’ll show you how it works with the Files by Google app, which anyone can download from the Play Store.

First, open the app and locate the ZIP file you would like to extract.

Select the zip file to extract.

A menu will appear with the contents of the ZIP file displayed and an option to “Extract.” Tap “Extract” to continue.

Tap the "Extract" button.

After the progress bar shows the extraction is complete, tap “Done” to finish up. You’ll have the option to select “Delete ZIP File” if you’d like to remove the original ZIP after it’s been extracted.

Select "Delete ZIP File" and tap "Done."

The extracted files will be in a folder with the same name as the ZIP file in the original location. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to unzip a file on Android, but a little trickier to zip files together.

Best Android File Manager Apps

Files by Google

Files by Google

Files by Google is our favorite file manager for Android. The app allows you to browse, clean up, and transfer files between devices with Nearby Share, as well as access files on external storage drives. It also includes a built-in media player and the ability to unzip files. Files by Google is pre-installed on some Android devices, but anyone can download it.

Download: Files by Google

Files Shortcut

Files Shortcut

If you’re looking for the most basic file manager app available, Files Shortcut is even technically a file manager. This app is simply a shortcut to Android’s native built-in file manager. Not all Android devices make it easy to access this—or they come with their own file manager. Regardless, you can access the Android file manager with this app. No ads, no subscription, no permissions.

Download: Files Shortcut

Solid Explorer

Solid Explorer

Solid Explorer is a long-time favorite file manager app that automatically organizes files into collections. Some of the features include moving, deleting, sharing, renaming, archiving, and transferring files. Solid Explorer is free for 14 days, but it’s $1.99 after that. The full version gets rid of ads, and has unlimited device access, cloud and network functionality, file encryption, and many customization options.

Download: Solid Explorer

Total Commander

Total Commander

Total Commander is a free file manager app that offers a text editor and a layout with two side-by-side panels for tablets and landscape mode. It has plugins to add additional features and supports network storage, cloud storage, bookmarks, and root access. The app also includes a media player with streaming support.

Download: Total Commander

X-plore File Manager

X-plore File Manager is an ad-supported file manager app that has a unique 1990s-esque UI with a dual-pane layout. The app features an image viewer, archive format support, and the ability to view and edit file properties and permissions. It also has root access, a hex editor, and configurable buttons and shortcuts.

Download: X-plore File Manager

It’s nice that Android doesn’t hide the file system too much, even though you probably don’t need to use a file manager very often. When you do, it’s helpful to have the option to dig into it just like you would do on Windows or MacOS. A robust file system is one of the things that makes Android so powerful.

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