File management apps are certainly not an area where Android is lacking, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Besides the obvious drawback of having too many to choose from, it can be quite time consuming browsing and testing countless apps until you find the perfect one.
On the other hand, a great advantage is you can find them in so many flavors, and even the free ones are quite exceptional at getting the job done. Here are our favorite free Android apps for file management, from the feature-rich, highly customizable ones for those who’ll never settle for less, to simple and lightweight apps with core functionality useful for anyone!
As one of the most feature-rich free file managers, AndroExplorer also comes with a design that makes navigation and basic tasks like move/copy/paste a piece of cake. The app offers shortcuts to common locations and options like your device’s storage, SD card, Recycle Bin, Settings and so on.
Working with folders in AndroExplorer is pretty straightforward: it offers all essential selection options and folder operations, and they function flawlessly. However, the things you can do with this app go well beyond basic tasks. It comes with a dedicated space for app management, built-in file search, file sharing via WiFi, support for multitasking, and the list goes on.
I must admit, the UI is not the most stylish but it does simplify most actions and it doesn’t take long to get used to it. It’s really a small price to pay for this wonderful file manager and the only price, because it’s absolutely free. I especially appreciate how its developers separated the Pro app completely from this one and didn’t bundle ads in it either.
ES File Explorer hardly needs any introduction, but if you’re new to the world of Android file management apps, you should know this is one of the most popular ones. Its streamlined design that goes easy on the eyes, bundles a whole lot of features.
Besides core functionality for file browsing and management, the app packs quite a few extras. There are built-in players for media content, integration with popular cloud storage services like Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox, app manager, Bluetooth file sharing, FTP file management and a folder search option as well.
Let’s not forget the option to edit view/edit root only files and support for archives is pretty good too. ES File Explorer can decompress RAR files, but ZIP support is even more extended. Besides packing/unpacking ZIP archives, it also gives users the option to create encrypted ZIP archives using AES 256-bit encryption standard.
There’s also a text editor, and even a task manager and a cache cleaner – useful nonetheless, but perhaps most people aren’t really looking for such a complex file manager, which is really the only drawback I could find in this app.
Astro File Manager is definitely one of the established file management apps in the Play Store. It lets you access files from your devices local storage to network and clouds. One of its interesting features is “Cloud Hopping”, offering the possibility to transfer files directly between clouds.
Its file search function is incredibly customizable – you can use a variety of criteria to filter the results, from file type and name to size, location and others. Astro File Manager also includes a few additional capabilities such as the Task Killer and App Backup tools.
The interface of this free app is neat and well organized, and while it is add-supported, I was never bothered by the banner ads shown on the bottom of the screen.
FX File Explorer is one of my favorite file managers, thanks to its shiny, new Material Design UI on top of the wealth of features it provides. This one is hands down one of the best, free apps for file management if you can settle for local storage support only (more on that later).
Besides that, it supports all popular archive formats, as well as image, video, audio, text and hexadecimal files. The ‘swipe to select’ files and ‘pinch to zoom’ gestures, are major time savers and the vast majority of your stored content can be opened through the built-in viewers.
In the Usage View, you can see how files and folders are taking up your storage space, and if your device is rooted, there’s a special add-on you can install that gives you full access to your device’s data and file permissions.
However, the standard (free) app only supports local storage – if you want to handle files stored in the cloud or network, you’re going to need the paid FX Plus add-on. Perhaps this is the single, most important weakness of the free version.
The add-on also lets you browse your photo, audio and video collection and supports playlist creation and management. There’s more bundled here – ZIP encryption, app management and a Bluetooth FTP Client are just a few examples. Bottom line – this upgrade is undeniably useful, and worth the small investment if you already enjoy using the free FX File Explorer.
File Manager is leveraging the Material Design look to offer a clean, and familiar interface, but it also includes light and dark Holo themes – for the nostalgics. Feature-wise, you get all the usual file manipulation, sorting and searching capabilities.
It supports Dropbox and Google Drive, bookmarks and archive extraction for major formats like ZIP, RAR, Tar and Tar.gz. Furthermore, File Manager supports USB-OTG and bundles an application manager, and image gallery so you can easily sort photos.
All in all, this app may lack various advanced features, although its functional and intuitive interface, as well as the straightforward options are the perfect recipe to please a large number of users.
If you’re a fan of Material Design, this particular file manager uses its guidelines to the max. You can add new folders from the floating action button, settings and options can be accessed from a slide-out menu and the app is friendly with the system resources.
It doesn’t have a wealth of features, but it does pack support for root access and includes all regular file manipulation options like copy, cut, rename, delete, create/extract archives, and file/folder details. Also, it lets you access remote servers via SFTP.
As minimal as it seems, many users feel positively about Cabinet as it managed to acquire a 4.6 star rating so far, even if it’s still in beta. Perhaps the no-thrills approach and familiarity brought by Material Design, is in fact what most people are looking for.
The app is free, and the only IAP it includes is practically an option to donate up to $20 to support its development. Definitely worth a try, if you’re looking for a lightweight file manager that’s also visually refreshing.
MK Explorer is, as its developers have described it “another simple file manager”. Honestly, it makes it sound more average than it is. Sure, the features included are somewhat basic – common file and folder operations for device storage, support only for ZIP and RAR extraction, search engine, a simple text editor and keyboard shortcuts, among others.
However, it also offers root file access and editing, comes with a built-in gallery and the Material Design interface includes both phone and tablet layouts. Just like Cabinet, MK Explorer aims to be lightweight, and user friendly, because there are still many people who need this type of file manager. Also, it’s really hard to compete with the feature-rich apps that have already built a name for themselves, such as ES File Explorer.
MK Explorer is a clean and essential file manager, perfect for basic tasks, and its Material Design traits only make it more attractive.
Out of the file managers you tested so far, which is your favorite? Have there been any major let downs?
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