Many Android phones use microUSB ports for charging and transferring files back and forth with your PC, but what if the files you need to email your boss are sitting on a Flash drive or a full-size SD card? Fortunately, with some free software and an inexpensive adapter cable, you can attach a USB key or card reader directly to your handset. Here’s how to connect your Android phone to a USB storage device. If you have a newer Android phone that uses USB Type-C, it’s even easier.
What You Need to Connect USB Storage to Older Android Phones
- A USB OTG (“On the Go”) cable with a male microUSB connector on one end and a female full size USB port on the other. You can find an OTG cable for under $3 at Amazon.com or NewEgg.
How to Connect
1. Install StickMount from the Google Play market.
2. Connect OTG cable to your phone
3. Attach a USB Flash drive (or SD card reader) to the OTG cable.
4. Check “use by default” and tap OK when Android pops up a prompt that says “Open StickMount when this USB device is connected.”
5. Grant StickMount superuser access when prompted. Set it to always have superuser access.
After your device successfully mounts, you’ll see a notification from StickMount that says something like “Active mounts: /sda/usbStorage/sda1” to let you know that your USB storage drive is ready for reading/writing.
6. Open your file manager. If your phone didn’t come with a file manager preloaded or you’re looking for a better one, install Astro File Manager.
7. Navigate to the USB storage drive. In Astro File Manager, you can get to the USB key by tapping on “usbdisk” from the main menu.
In other file managers, you may need to look under the usbStorage folder in the root directory.
8. Copy, delete, move or open files as needed. Just as with your PC, you can perform any file operation on an external USB drive from your Android phone. We were even able to play video off of a USB Flash drive, but it was a little jerky because the connection isn’t that fast. We’d recommend copying the files to your phone’s internal storage or microSD before opening them.
What About USB Type-C?
Many newer Android devices uses USB Type-C for charging and data. If that’s the case with your device, you have it easy. You’ll need as little as one piece of hardware:
- A USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter
- A USB Type-C flash drive
You only need one of them. An adapter will let you use your current flash drives. A USB Type-C flash drive, like this one, will fit directly into the phone without any dongles required. Then you just open your file manager and you’re good to go.