Want to use a USB flash drive with your Android phone or tablet? Plenty of Android devices can recognize a flash drive… but since Android doesn’t have a built-in file browser, up until now you’ve needed to use a third-party app to actually explore the flash drive.

Google’s changing that with Android M.

Now when you insert a USB flash drive, a USB icon shows up in the notification tray asking if you’d like to explore or eject the drive.


Choose the Eject option, and you get a note letting you know it’s safe to remove the drive.

Choose Explore, and a file browser opens up letting you navigate the contents of the flash drive.

You can choose to browse in list or grid views. Both views will show thumbnail icons for photos and other types of content, but the grid view shows larger thumbnails.

Tap-and-hold any item and a toolbar will appear at the top of the screen with options for deleting or sharing a file. There’s also a “Copy to” option which lets you send a file to your internal storage or Google Drive. You can also select multiple files.

There’s also a search button which you can tap to search the contents of your flash drive.

Open up the file explorer’s settings view and you can see information about the amount of available space as well as options for ejecting, or erasing and formatting your flash drive.

Want to know what else is new in next version of Android? Check out our preview of Google Android M.

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3 replies on “Android M includes native file browser for USB flash drives”

  1. Google is jumping on the USB Type C bandwagon. That will open up a whole new box of connectivity options. There will be lots of USB flash drives available that you will be able to plug right into the device. Google is just being proactive about getting the capability in there. digi_owl is right though. They’ve done a 180 on removable storage. I think Google was expecting manufacturers to start putting more storage in devices or more people using could storage.

  2. That adopt external storage might prove very interesting for the cheaper Nvidia Shield console just released. Especially given how quickly Nvidia typically rolls out new OS versions.

  3. I guess they built this on the SAF file/directory picker.

    Odd to see them do this after treating removable storage like some red-haired step child.

    Could be that the productivity push via Android for Work is making them reevaluate.

    After all, there seem to be a split view hiding out in the M preview as well. And that is something people has been basically begging for since Honeycomb and tablets came around.

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