How to get to Android Marshmallow's hidden file manager

Did you know you can browse your phone's file system on Android Marshmallow without downloading a separate app? We'll show you how.

android m file manager

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If you, like me, are accustomed to micromanaging your files on your computer, the lack of a built-in file manager on smartphones can be a serious pain point. Why do I have to jump from app to app to manage files? Why can’t I do it all from one place? Sure, you can find various file management apps on Google Play, but Android itself never shipped with one. Until now, anyway. 

Android 6 Marshmallow includes a hidden file manager that’s switched off by default, but you can switch it on quickly and easily if you know where to look.

Go to the Settings app then tap Storage & USB (it’s under the Device subheading). Scroll to the bottom of the resulting screen then tap Explore: Just like that, you’ll be taken to a file manager that lets you get at just about any file on your phone.

android m file mgmt 1

Android 6’s file manager.

The file manager is pretty basic, but it’ll feel pretty familiar to anyone who’s used the OS X Finder or Windows Explorer: Tap a folder to view its contents, tap a file to view it, press and hold a file icon to get at additional options (Delete, Share, and so on).

A basic search feature makes it a little easier to find just the file you’re looking for. You can also change the sort order for items (tap the View button—the three horizontal lines in the toolbar) or switch between the Grid view and List view (tap the Options menu button—the three dots in the upper right corner).

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Grid view gives you larger icons and file previews than List view.

Unfortunately, the file manager is a little difficult to get to—it’s actually part of the Settings app, so you can’t add it to the homescreen, for example. Ideally, the file manager would be a separate app that you can optionally show in the app drawer, but as it stands, Android Marshmallow’s file manager is a welcome new addition.

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