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Grow Your Business Technology

Best File Manager Apps for Your Smartphone

image for Olga Danylenko/Shutterstock
Olga Danylenko/Shutterstock

File manager apps aren't always the flashiest or most celebrated tools on a smartphone or other mobile device. However, they provide a much-needed service when it comes to organizing your files. When the default file manager app isn't sufficient for your needs, consider some of the apps listed below. They are the best file manager apps for your smartphone and mobile device.

Most smartphones come with a file manager app, which is usually accessed from the home screen. It lets you perform basic tasks to the files on your phone. These include deleting, renaming and sharing documents that you've downloaded, as well as managing photos and video clips that you've taken with your phone.

There are many alternative file manager apps. They allow you to do more sophisticated things, such as accessing files in folders that the basic file manager included with your smartphone may keep hidden from you. Using an alternative file manager, you can also directly access files from your cloud storage account or an FTP server.

For Android phone users, you can install an alternative file manager from the Google Play store. For iPhone users, you can install one from the App Store. 

Here are some of the top alternative file managers for Android and iPhone. This list is based on file manager apps that are highly rated by users, as well as those downloaded and reviewed the most. Additionally, these apps are created by independent developers. (Those made by smartphone companies often come installed on smartphones already.)

This highly rated app is a step-up from the basic file managers that come preinstalled on Android phones. On its main screen, access to your files is organized under categories such as Main Storage, SD Card, Downloads, Images, Audio, Videos, Documents, etc. 

Tap the icon for a category to see your files listed in it. Tap the Cloud icon to access your files on your cloud storage account (Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive). The Remote icon lets you access files on a server through FTP, LAN or SFTP. 

Additional tools in this speedy app include a music file player, text editor and viewer for your picture files. To remove ads from this app, pay either $1.99 yearly or $7.99 for a one-time purchase.

This file manager comes with 5GB of cloud storage for free. You access your files through its main screen by tapping button categories (Recent Files, Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, etc.). From this screen, you can also manage your files on Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive or access files on a server through FTP or LAN. You can transfer your files to another computer or mobile device through Wi-Fi.

 This file manager can also be used to convert files from one format to another. It can convert a PDF to a JPG, for example. And it has a media player built in so you can listen to audio or video files on your phone. File Commander comes with ads, but you can pay to remove them for $29.99 for one year. The paid version also comes with 50GB cloud storage and more functions, including tools to encrypt your files and to try to recover files you've deleted from your phone.

From this manager's main screen, the remaining space on your phone's internal storage (and any SD card inserted into it) is depicted along the top. You tap icons throughout the rest of this screen to access files on your phone that are grouped into categories (Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, etc.) from an FTP or STP server, or stored on a cloud service (including Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive.)

ASTRO File Manager has a built-in image viewer and an app manager that lets you back up your apps to an SD card. This can be handy if you need to reset your phone to its original fresh-from-the-factory setting. ASTRO File Manager is free and doesn't appear to show ads.

Total Commander is one of the more sophisticated file manager apps in this guide and is recommended for advanced users. It can be configured to display two open folders simultanenously, so you can move files between them. You can create zip packages of your files, and extract files from zip and RAR packages. Total Commander can play your audio and video files, and comes with a text editor.

 More features can be added by installing plugins from the Google Play store. There are plugins that let you use Total Commander to access your files on cloud services (including Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive,) a computer over LAN, or FTP and SFTP servers. Another plug-in enables sharing files on your phone over Wi-Fi. Total Commander is free and doesn't appear to have any ads.

Documents is packed with significant additional functionality beyond basic file managing. You can delete, duplicate and move files stored on your iPhone or iPad. From within the app, you can view documents, PDFs or pictures, even annotate and edit documents. You move files between your iOS device and desktop PC or Mac, as well as sync files with cloud storage services that include Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. Password protection can be applied to lock your files from prying eyes. Documents is free with an in-app purchase of $50 to unlock its PDF editor.

Through FileBrowser, you can access files from your cloud accounts (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive,) from FTP and SFTP servers, through WebDAV, or from your Mac or Windows PC through Wi-Fi. You can copy, delete, edit, move, rename and zip/unzip your files. It has a built-in reader that lets you view your documents in iWorks or Microsoft Office formats and PDFs. And it includes a tool that you can use to annotate image files and PDFs. 

FileBrowser costs $5.99, but you can try its counterpart that has fewer features, FileBrowserGO, for free for 14 days. There's another version with more business-oriented features that costs $10.99.

FileExplorer Pro costs $4.99, but it's worth it if you need to copy, delete, move or rename files not only on your iPhone or iPad but also files stored on several network sources. It can connect to your cloud storage on Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and OneDrive; to FTP, SFTP, and WebDAV servers; and to network shares on macOS, Windows, and Linux systems. It has a built-in FTP server for transferring files between your iOS device and desktop computer or notebook over Wi-Fi. A free, non-Pro version is available with fewer features.

This app is actually three tools in one: a file manager along with a download manager and secure private web browser. FileGet's file manager lacks most of the features found in the prior three apps (it doesn't support any cloud storage service), but it's free and worthy if you only need to perform basic file management capabilities with some extra tools. This app lets you delete, move, and rename files – and it can open zip archives. It has a document viewer for you to skim your Microsoft Office documents (Excel, PowerPoint, Word), and PDFs. The file size of this app is small at only 32MB. (Documents is 139MB, FileBrowser is 78MB, and FileExplorer Pro is 150MB.)

Default file managers generally leave a lot to be desired. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative file manager apps for your smartphone out there that go above and beyond. Don't settle for the factory file manager; you can get a lot more mileage out of the file manager apps on this list.

Howard Wen

Freelance writer for technology publications, specializing in Windows 10, Microsoft, Android, Google products and services, Linux, mobile devices, Open Source projects and security.

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