USB connection options in Android Marshmallow explained

Android Marshmallow adds one more action you can do whenever you want to transfer files between your device and computer. When you connect your phone running Android 6.0 to your computer via USB you are now able to specify which connection type you want to use.

In case all you needed was to charge your device, you don’t really have to do anything else. By default charging only mode is enabled. It doesn’t let you browse your phone’s contents or transfer files, but if you need this functionality now you have several options.

Firstly, swipe down from the top of the screen to open the notifications drawer and tap on the USB connection entry.

Android Marshmallow USB connection

This will open a dialog with more USB connection options.

Android Marshmallow USB connection options

  • Charging only – this is the default setting, which we already covered above. This should be used when you just want to charge your device.
  • Transfer files (MTP) – This type of USB connection uses the Media Transfer Protocol for file transfers between your phone and computer or vice versa. Use this when you want to copy files.
  • Transfer files (PTP) – This option connects your mobile device to your computer as a camera. File transfer is usually limited to photos and videos, and uses the Picture Transfer Protocol. In layman’s terms, your computer will think your connected phone is a digital camera and apps that can connect to a camera can directly import photos and videos from your phone.
  • MIDI – This option should be used when you need to connect a MIDI device to your phone or tablet.

MTP and PTP options are not new, but surely the MIDI USB connection type will please many users that want to edit or create music using a synthesizer app.

A small step backwards in Marshmallow is the fact that changing the default USB connection is now hidden in the Developer Options menu. If you don’t have Developer Options enabled you can turn it on by going to Settings -> About phone and tap 7 times in rapid succession on the ‘Build Number’ entry.

Developer options - Select USB configuration (Marshmallow)

Then you can access the Developer Options menu from your phone’s Settings app and change the default USB connection type in the ‘Select USB configuration’ menu.

Hopefully Google will move this particular setting out of the Developer Options menu, because many users don’t have it enabled and may think it doesn’t exist at all.

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