How to Connect an Android Phone to a Mac

You love your Mac, but you also love your Android phone. You’re likely worried your Mac won’t love your Android, or vice versa. 

Don’t despair! Though they have distinct operating systems, and Macs typically work best with iPhones, it’s entirely possible to seamlessly share files (including photos, music and movies) between a Mac and an Android.

There are essentially two ways to connect your Android phone to a Mac and transfer files between them:

  1. Use special software
  2. Use the cloud.

Let’s have a look at each of these methods.

Use Special Software

Since the Mac OS X operating system doesn’t natively recognize Android phones, you need to download special software to your Mac. Once it’s downloaded and connected to your Android phone, you can transfer files from your phone to your computer.

The most basic and widely used program is the Android File Transfer program, available here. Follow these instructions to get it up and running:

  1. Download the application.
  2. Open AndroidFileTransfer.dmg.
  3. Drag the Android File Transfer icon to the Applications folder. (Note: Once Android File Transfer is in your Applications folder, delete the .dmg file to keep your hard drive as clutter-free as possible)
  4. With a USB cable, connect your Android device to your Mac. 
  5. On your phone, slide down the Notifications menu from the top of the screen and find “Charging this device via USB.”
  6. Under “Use USB for,” select “File Transfer.”
  7. An Android File Transfer window will open on your Mac.
  8. Open another Finder window on your Mac. 
  9. Drag the desired files from the Android File Transfer window to the desired folder in the Finder window.
  10. When you’ve finished, quit the Android File Transfer program and unplug the USB cable.

Whew! Seems easy enough. However, you need to keep a few things in mind when completing this process.

System Versions

Make sure that your computer is using Mac OS X 10.5 or greater. (If you’re not sure, click the tiny black Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen; then select “About This Mac” to find your operating system and version number.) 

Additionally, Android File Transfer supports only Android version 3.0 and later. 

Connectors and Cables

You may need a USB to USB-C adapter, as newer Macs only have USB-C ports, not the older USB ports.

File Names and Views

If you’re a Mac user accustomed to the various View options in Finder (items look like icons, in a list, etc.), Android File Transfer unfortunately lacks these. Instead, it offers a quite basic file management interface. 

In the Android File Transfer application, you can’t click Control + Quick Look to view a photo (as you can do on your Mac), and you can’t double-click the file to open or view it. It may be a bit difficult to find the photo, movie or song file you want to transfer, especially since we do not choose the names of files that we save or that automatically get downloaded to our phones. But, with a bit of persistence, you should be able to find it easily enough.

If you’re not sure about the contents of a file, click and drag the file to a folder in your Mac’s Finder window; then open it there. At that point, you can decide whether to keep it.

Use the Cloud

If you’ve tried file transfer with the software and cables, and it just isn’t cutting it for you, you can always use the cloud. 

Cloud storage and file-sharing services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and of course, iCloud, may be the best solution. The beauty of leveraging these storage systems is that you can access files anytime and anywhere you have an internet connection. You can access files not only from your Mac and Android phone, but also from any device you choose. This is a huge benefit because when using Android File Transfer system as detailed, it’s only one-way: the transfer works only from your Android to your Mac, not the other way around. What if you want to transfer files from your computer to your phone? You need a cloud service for that.

The downside of using the cloud, of course, is cost: the more you store, the more you pay. A cloud account can get pricey if you intend to store a lot of music and movies.

All of the cloud storage programs have Android apps. (You can access iCloud on an Android phone via your phone’s browser.) Once you have installed a cloud platform on your phone (and subscribed), you may notice that some files will automatically save to your Android’s internal storage system (the phone’s “hard drive”). Other files will default so they’re automatically saved in the cloud storage provider. You need to configure the settings on your phone to ensure it saves content where you want it to.

There you have it: two ways to connect files between an Android phone and a Mac. It may be tricky at first, but after you get the hang of it you won’t have to worry about how to pull up that awesome photo you took with your phone and use it on your Mac in emails, social media or other applications. They may have two different operating systems, but you can love them equally.

Looking for other ways you can take your Mac to the next level? Check out the rest of our blog. And, if you’re looking for all of the power of a Mac without burning a hole in your wallet, you can browse RenwedMacs’ unmatched selection of renewed MacBook Pros, iMacs and more. 



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