How to Use a USB Flash Drive With Your Android Phone or Tablet

Key Takeaways

To use a USB flash drive with Android, you’ll just need a simple USB adapter. The adapter lets you plug a USB drive into your Android phone. You can then browse the contents of the drive and move files around from a file manager app.

Android devices have USB ports for charging, but they can also be used to transfer files. You can use a USB flash drive with your Android phone just like you would with a computer. It’s easier than you might think.

We typically think of transferring files to a phone by using a physical USB cable or sending them through the internet. Those methods work fine, but there are advantages to using a USB flash drive. Think of it like a mini external hard drive for your phone.

How to Connect a USB Flash Drive to Android

Android USB Adapter
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Android phones don’t have full-size (Type-A) USB ports. “Dual drive” USB stick with both Type-A and Type-C connectors are becoming more popular, but there’s a good chance you have an “old school” Type-A USB drive lying around.

Thankfully, essentially every Android phone and tablet on the market has a USB-C port. All you need to use a Type-A USB drive with a USB-C port is an affordable adapter. Pick up a two-pack for only $10 and you’re all set. Simply plug your USB drive into the adapter, then plug the adapter into the USB-C port on your Android phone.


Syntech USB-C to USB Adapter Pack of 2

$10 $19 Save $9

This 2-pack of USB-C to USB adapters enables you to use any USB drive with an Android device with a USB-C port. Simply plug and play.

How to Access a USB Drive on Android

Now that we’ve got your UBS drive connected to your phone or tablet, we can access the contents. After you plug in the drive, a notification will appear with the message: “For Transferring Photos and Media.”

USB drive notification.

The notification has two options: “Explore” and “Eject.” Tap “Explore” to browse the contents of the drive.

Tap "Explore."

You’ll be taken to the default file explorer on your Android device. If it doesn’t open directly to the USB drive, you may need to find the directory first.

Select your USB drive.

Now you can browse all the folders and files that are on your USB drive!

Folders on the USB drive.

Related: How to Set Default Apps on Android

How to Transfer Files From Android to a USB Flash Drive

Transferring files from your Android device to the USB drive can be a bit tricky. Some file manager apps don’t support it. We’ll be using an app called “Files,” which is actually just a shortcut to Android’s built-in file manager.

With your USB drive plugged in, find a photo, video, or another file to transfer. Select the file—or multiple files—by tapping and holding.

Select a file.

Tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right and select “Move To.”

Tap the menu icon and select "Move to..."

Next, tap the hamburger menu icon in the top left and find your USB drive.

Open the sidebar menu and select your USB drive.

Open the folder on your USB drive you’d like to move the file to, then tap “Move.”

Tap "Move."

That’s all there is to it! You can use this same method in reverse to move files from your USB drive to your Android device as well.

Many Android devices no longer come with SD card slots, but a handy adapter and a nice USB drive are all you need to regularly move files off your phone for more storage space. If you do this a lot, it’s probably worth grabbing a “dual drive” USB stick to make your life easier.

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