4 Android file manager alternatives (that are better than the default app)

If you're not happy with the default file manager on your Android device, other options offer more features and improved interfaces.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Cx File Manager.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The default Android file manager is a serviceable app. It does what you need and not much more. Plus, like all built-in Android apps, it plays well with the operating system and has a consistent look and feel.

My problem with the default file manager is that it doesn't have all the features I require. In particular, I often need to move files between devices on my network to shared folders. Because the default Android file manager doesn't offer such a feature, I turn to alternatives that include an SMB option for network file transfer.

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Although that capability may not be a feature you need, you might want to consider one of the following file managers. Each offers more features than you're accustomed to.

With that said, let's get to the apps.

1. Solid Explorer

Solid Explorer is one of the most popular file managers on the Google Play Store, with over 10 million downloads. Although this app doesn't offer network share connectivity, it does allow you to run a simple FTP server from your Android device that you can connect to from remote devices.

What makes Solid Explorer stand out is the UI. As well as being beautifully designed, it offers plenty of flexibility. Take, for instance, the View Modes. You can view files/folders by list, grid, gallery, or compact. You can also sort by name, date, size, and type. Even better, you can apply the View Mode and filters on a per-folder basis.

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You'll also find folder options for showing hidden files, showing folders first, remembering the last folder, showing folder size, and showing sections. There's a sidebar, where you can access collections (such as Recent Files, Photos, Music, Videos, and more). In other words, Solid Explorer is about as well-thought-out as a file manager can be.

Solid Explorer has a free and paid version (with a 15-day free trial for the premium plan). The full version ($5.99) removes ads, allows you to install the app on unlimited devices, and includes cloud functionality and file encryption.

Solid Exlorer.

Solid Explorer has an outstanding UI that blends in perfectly with the Android style.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. File Manager Plus

I use File Manager Plus because it includes a network share option that works like a charm. All I have to do is enter the IP address, user, and password for the share, and I'm good to go. I can even add as many network shares as I need.

File Manager Plus also includes a handy file analysis tool that analyzes your storage to give you a breakdown of what's taking up the most space. This app allows you to view by list, grid, compact, small gallery, and large gallery. The app also includes powerful file/folder sorting (by name, size, date, and type, each by ascending or descending), which allows you to apply options to a single folder or globally, and can show hidden folders.

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Although the UI feels a bit outdated on File Manager Plus, the features make it an outstanding option, especially if you need to connect to remote shares on your network.

There's a free version that includes ads, but you can upgrade to the Premium edition for either a $2.49/yearly subscription or a one-time fee of $8.99. The Premium version removes ads and adds a dark theme.

File Manager Plus.

File Manager Plus feels a bit outdated, but it has all the features you need.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. File Manager

File Manager offers a great UI that perfectly blends with the Android aesthetic, but it's not just a pretty face -- this app includes plenty of features to entice you to move from the boring default. You'll find favorites, cloud, local network, the ability to manage on your PC, a cleaner, a recycle bin, a built-in share tool, and more.

The PC manager feature turns the File Manager into an FTP server, which requires an FTP client on your PC, such as FileZilla. The only problem with the FTP portion of the app is that there's no way to set a username/password, which makes it challenging to connect. Fortunately, the network share option allows you to connect to network SMB shares. Another nice feature is Safe Folder, which will enable you to secure files in a password-protected folder.

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File Manager can be used for free (with ads) or you can remove the ads (and add file analysis and wallpaper backgrounds) for a one-time fee of $3.99.

File Manager.

File Manager is a beautiful app with plenty of features to make it a worthy contender to replace the default app.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Cx File Explorer

Cx File Explorer offers all the features you need in a file manager and more, but one thing lifts this app over much of the competition. As well as allowing you to connect to remote machines on your LAN, the app also includes integration with cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box. As for the remote connection options, you can use SMB, FTP, SFTP, and WebDAV. 

You have the makings for one of the best file managers on the market when you combine the features above with local storage management, libraries (for images, audio, video, documents, and new files), storage analyzer, a cache cleaner, automatic USB connection detection, built-in apps (music player, video player, image viewer, and text editor), and duplicate download/file remover.

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Cx File Explorer is free to use, has no ads, and doesn't have a premium version.

Cx File Manager.

Cx File Manager might just be the best of the bunch.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you aren't happy with the features or behavior of the default Android file manager, one of the above apps will certainly fit the bill. 

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