Can I transfer files from Mac to Android phone?

Android and iOS are the two dominant mobile operating systems, with market shares worldwide of approximately 71% and 28% respectively [1]. With so many iOS and Android device users, transferring files between these two platforms is a common need.

This article will explain the different methods for transferring files from a Mac computer (running macOS) to an Android phone. It will cover wired transfers via USB cable, wireless transfers via email and cloud storage services, AirDrop, and important security considerations. The goal is to provide Mac-Android device users with a comprehensive guide to securely and conveniently transferring files between these two operating systems.

Why Transfer Files

Being able to easily transfer files between your Mac and Android device provides several benefits. Most importantly, it allows you to access files across devices so you can view or edit them on whichever device is most convenient ( For example, you may want to access a work document from your Mac while on the go using your Android phone. File transfer also facilitates sharing files like photos, videos, and music between your Mac and Android device ( This allows you to easily view and share media stored on one device on the other device.

Methods for Transferring Files

There are several ways to transfer files between a Mac and an Android device. The most common methods are:

Using a Cable

You can use a USB cable to connect your Android device to your Mac and transfer files. The official Android File Transfer app from Google allows you to easily move photos, videos, audio and other files on Mac OS X. After installing the app, connect your phone via USB and you’ll be able to drag and drop files between your devices.


Another simple way is to email files from your Mac to your Android device. Attach photos, videos, PDFs or other documents to an email and send it to yourself. Open the email on your Android phone and download the attachments.

Cloud Storage

Using a cloud storage service like Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud makes transferring files seamless. Save files from your Mac to cloud storage, then access them on your Android phone by installing the corresponding app and logging in to your account. This allows instant syncing and downloading.


AirDrop uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to share files between Apple devices. To use AirDrop between a Mac and Android device, you’ll need a third party app like AirDroid. Set up AirDroid on both devices, make sure they’re on the same Wi-Fi network, then you can wirelessly transfer files.

Using a Cable

One of the easiest ways to transfer files from a Mac to an Android device is by using a USB cable. Here are the steps:

First, connect your Android device to your Mac using the USB cable that came with your phone. Plug one end into your phone and the other end into a USB port on your Mac.

Next, on your Android device, pull down the notification shade and tap the “USB for file transfer” notification. Alternatively, go into Settings > Connected devices > USB connection type and select “File transfer.” This will enable file transfer mode.

Finally, open the Android File Transfer app on your Mac. This will bring up your phone’s storage, similar to an external drive. You can now drag and drop files and folders between your Mac and Android device.

The Android File Transfer app handles the file transfer process seamlessly. With USB file transfer mode enabled on your device, you have access to internal storage as well as SD cards to move music, photos, videos, documents and more. Just remember to safely eject your phone when finished (source).

Transferring Files via Email

One convenient way to transfer files from a Mac to an Android device is by emailing the files. Here’s how:

On your Mac, open the Mail app and create a new email message. Attach the files you want to transfer by clicking the paperclip icon and selecting the files. Make sure the recipient is your Android device’s email address.

Send the email with the attachments. On your Android device, open the Gmail app (or whatever email app you use) and open the email from your Mac. Tap on the attachments to download them. A notification will appear asking where you want to save the files. Select a folder like your Downloads folder to save the attachments.

The files will now be stored on your Android device for you to access. Emailing attachments is an easy wireless way to transfer documents, photos, videos and other files from a Mac to an Android phone or tablet.

Cloud Storage

One convenient way to transfer files from a Mac to an Android device is by using a cloud storage service. Popular options like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and iCloud allow you to upload files from your Mac that can then be accessed on your Android device.

To use cloud storage:

  1. Install the cloud storage app on both your Mac and Android device.
  2. Upload the files you want to transfer from your Mac to the cloud storage service.
  3. Open the cloud storage app on your Android device and download the files.

Most cloud services have free storage options with a few GB of space, while paid plans provide more storage capacity. Using cloud storage allows seamless transfer of files without cables and provides anytime access on all your devices.

Using Airdrop

Airdrop provides a direct wireless method to transfer files between a Mac and an Android device. To use Airdrop between a Mac and Android:

1. Install an AirDrop alternative app like Snapdrop on your Android device from the Google Play Store. This enables wireless Airdrop-like file transfers.

2. Open the Snapdrop app on your Android device and select “Receive”, which generates a URL.

3. On your Mac, open the URL in a browser like Safari. This connects your Android device and Mac.

4. On your Mac, select the files you want to transfer and drag them into the Snapdrop browser tab.

5. The files will now transfer directly from your Mac to your Android device using the wireless connection.

The main benefits of using Airdrop alternatives like Snapdrop are the direct wireless transfer and not needing any cables. It provides a quick and easy way to share files across different operating systems.

Security Considerations

When transferring files between a Mac and an Android device, it’s important to keep security in mind. Here are some tips for securely transferring files:

Potential malware risks: When connecting your Android device to your Mac via USB, be cautious about which options you select for file transfer. Only transfer files in the directions you intend to avoid accidentally exposing any sensitive data. Additionally, only install apps from trusted sources on your Android device to avoid malware infection from transferred files. Run antivirus scans on both devices regularly.

Encrypting sensitive files: When transferring sensitive files like financial documents or personal photos, it’s best to encrypt them first before transfer. On Mac, you can use the built-in Disk Utility to create encrypted disk images. On Android, certain apps like BoxCryptor can encrypt files. This protects your data in case it ends up in the wrong hands during transfer.

For more secure wireless options, using cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox allows you to add password protection and encryption. When using AirDrop, be sure you’re transferring to the correct nearby device.

Following security best practices when transferring files between your Mac and Android can help avoid data leaks or malware infection.


If you run into issues transferring files between your Mac and Android device, there are some troubleshooting steps you can try:

Check the USB cable – Frayed, bent, or faulty USB cables are a common cause of transfer issues. Try swapping the cable for a high-quality one. Make sure both ends are firmly plugged in.1

Restart your devices – Sometimes simply restarting your Mac and Android device can resolve temporary glitches. Power them off completely and restart.

Update software – Outdated OS versions on your Mac or Android can lead to compatibility problems. Install the latest updates.

Close other USB apps – If other apps are accessing the USB connection, it can interfere with file transfers. Quit any other programs using the USB port.

Check Android USB settings – Make sure your Android is set to allow file transfers. Go to Settings > Connected Devices > USB to verify.

Try an alternative transfer method – If all else fails, you can email files or use cloud storage instead of a USB cable transfer.


In summary, there are a variety of ways to transfer files between your Mac and Android device. The easiest options are using a USB cable, emailing files, uploading to cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox, and using AirDrop if both devices support it.

To decide which method to use, consider factors like the size and type of files you need to transfer, whether you need to transfer files frequently or just once, and which apps and accounts you already use. Make sure to take the proper security precautions as well.

In the end, with the right tools, transferring files between Mac and Android is quick and seamless. Focus on finding a method that works smoothly for your specific needs and setup. With the various options covered here, you should have no problem sharing files between your Mac and Android phone or tablet.

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