How to transfer photos, videos, and files from Mac to an Android phone and vice versa

In this easy tutorial, we’ll show you the best, easiest, and free ways to transfer files from a Mac to an Android phone and from an Android phone to a Mac.

Using this, you can move PDFs, documents, songs, videos, movies, APK files, and pretty much anything across these devices.

Image composition showing transfer of files from MacBook to Android phone and Android phone to Mac

Using Android File Transfer

  • Wired
  • Fast transfer
  • Simple to use
  • Official app by Google
  • Will hang and show the beach ball icon if you select many files

I have been using Android File Transfer for over eight years now. It’s a barebone Android transfer tool for Mac without any bells & whistles. Besides that, the app is rarely updated; however, it works with all the latest macOS and Android versions, including macOS Ventura and Android 12.

Here’s how to transfer files from Android to Mac and vice versa using this free app:

1) Download Android File Transfer from its official website. Once the tiny 4 MB file is downloaded, double-click to open it. Next, drag the app to the Applications folder to finish the installation.

2) Connect your Android phone to your Mac.

If your Mac only has USB-C ports, and your Android phone’s cable has USB-A on one end, you’ll have to buy a USB-C hub. But if your Android phone has a USB-C port, you can use the same cable that you use to charge your Mac.

3) After a successful wired connection, you’ll see an alert on your Android phone screen and Notification Center. Tap it and select File transfer or Transfer files.

Select File transfer on Android

4) Once you select File Transfer on your phone, the Android File Transfer app will automatically launch on your Mac. If it doesn’t, please open it manually from the Launchpad or Applications folder. You’ll now see the folders on your Android phone inside the Android File Transfer app on Mac. Next, here’s how to move files:

Transfer files from Mac to Android

Open the desired Android folder and drag & drop videos, photos, documents, etc., from a Finder folder on Mac to the folder inside the Android File Transfer app. To create a new folder, use the icon in the top right of the Android File Transfer app or click File > New Folder from the menu bar.

Transfer files from Mac to Android using Android File Transfer

Transfer files from Android to Mac

Select the files or folders inside the Android File Transfer app and drag them onto your Mac’s desktop or folder. To select multiple files, hold the Command key and make your selection.

Transfer files from Android to Mac using Android File Transfer

Fix Android File Transfer not working on Mac

Sometimes, Android File Transfer refuses to connect. Other times, it may simply hang. If you face such problems, here’s how to fix them:

  • Keep your Mac and Android phone awake and unlocked. Now, disconnect the cable and plug it back in.
  • Restart your Mac and your Android phone.
  • Make sure you select File transfer on your Android phone. If this alert disappears from the Home Screen, you’ll find it in the Notification Center.
  • Keep the phone and MacBook on a table or flat surface that doesn’t shake. This is to prevent accidental disconnection during transfer or connection setup.
  • If the app freezes, Force Quit and reopen it.

Using Bluetooth

  • Wireless
  • Very slow transfer
  • No app download needed

Bluetooth is a highly sluggish way of transferring files by today’s standards. But if you have to send an image, PDF, or document, you can use it. However, don’t even think about transferring a movie file or large video recording using Bluetooth, as it will take hours!

Follow these steps to pair your Android phone to your Mac and send or receive files via Bluetooth:

1) On your Mac, click the Apple icon () and choose System Settings or System Preferences. Then, select Bluetooth and keep this screen open.

2) On your Android phone, go to the Settings app and tap Connected devices to access your Bluetooth settings. Here, you should see “Visible as “phone name” to other devices.” If yes, go to step 3. If you don’t see that line, turn on your phone’s Bluetooth visibility. You should be able to do that by tapping Pair new device.

Connected devices to access Bluetooth on Android

3) Go back to System Settings on your Mac. You’ll see your Android phone under Nearby Devices. Take the pointer over it and click Connect.

Connect Android phone to Mac

4) You’ll now see a popup on your Android phone saying, “Pair with Mac?” It will also have a Bluetooth pairing code. Make sure the same code is displayed on Mac, and tap Pair.

Pair Android phone to Mac via Bluetooth

Besides that, you’ll also see a popup on your Mac saying, “Waiting for “Android phone” to accept pairing.” Once you tap Pair on your Android phone, this alert should automatically disappear. If not, click Connect to dismiss it.

Waiting for Android phone to accept Mac Bluetooth connection

5) You have now successfully paired your Mac and Android phone via Bluetooth. This pairing will stay for the future, making it easy to send and receive files. Of course, you’ll have to follow the above steps again if you someday forget/remove your Mac or Android phone from their respective Bluetooth settings or reset your Mac’s Bluetooth module. Now:

Send files via Bluetooth from Mac to Android:

  • Keep your Android phone awake.
  • Open the Bluetooth File Exchange app on your Mac from the Launchpad or Applications folder. It will be inside the Other or Utilities subfolder.
  • Select the file you want to send. To pick multiple at once, hold the Command key. When done, click Send.
    Select file in Bluetooth File Exchange and hit Send
  • Select your Android phone from the list and hit Send.
    Select Android phone and click Send
  • Finally, you will see a notification on your Android phone asking your permission to receive the file. Tap Accept, and Bluetooth file transfer will begin.
Accept incoming Bluetooth request on Android

Send files via Bluetooth from Android to Mac:

  • Open the Files app or the gallery app on your Android phone and select the file.
  • Tap the share icon and choose Bluetooth.
  • Tap your Mac’s name under Available devices.
  • Finally, accept the incoming file request on your Mac.
Send file from Android to Mac using Bluetooth

Can’t share files via Bluetooth?

If Bluetooth transfer from Android to Mac is unsuccessful, go to Mac’s System Settings > General > Sharing and enable File Sharing & Bluetooth Sharing. Next, restart your computer and phone before retrying to send files.

Using OpenMTP

  • Wired
  • Fast transfer
  • Visually easy to use
  • Feature-laden
  • It doesn’t hang as much Android File Transfer while moving large or several files
  • Free and open-source

Android File Transfer, which we talked about above, is basic. If you want to substitute that with some powerful tool, look no further than OpenMTP. It calls itself an “Advanced Android File Transfer App for macOS,” and I found it to work well on my MacBook.

Here’s how to copy files from Mac to Android and Android to Mac using OpenMTP:

1) Download and install the OpenMTP app on your Mac. If your Mac has Apple silicon (M1, M2, or its successor), get the Apple silicon version.

2) Connect your Android phone to your Mac using an appropriate cable. Select File Transfer from the notification that appears on your Android phone.

3) Open OpenMTP on your Mac. You’ll see your Mac folders on the left and your Android phone folders on the right. If your Android phone doesn’t appear, click the refresh button (two circular arrows) from the top of the right section.

4) With all setup done, here’s how to move files:

Transfer file from Android to Mac:

Choose the file from the left side and drop it on the right side.

Transfer file from Mac to Android:

Select the photos, videos, audio, docs, etc., from the left side and drop them on the right side, i.e., Android’s side. To select all visible files, use Command + A or hit the tiny square box from the top left.

Transfer files from Mac to Android using OpenMTP

Using AirDroid

  • Wireless
  • Fast
  • Files are not uploaded to servers (if you follow the steps below)
  • Third-party tool

Follow these steps to transfer files from Mac to an Android phone or tablet using AirDroid:

1) Make sure your Mac and Android phone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network or mobile hotspot.

2) Download AirDroid on your Android phone and open it. You can skip signing up for an account. Next, tap AirDroid Web.

3) Open a browser on your Mac, enter the IP address (like you see in Option 2 on the AirDroid Web screen, and hit enter.

4) Tap Accept on your Android phone, and this will establish a local connection between the AirDroid app on your Android phone and AirDroid Web on your Mac.

AirDroid Web on Android

5) Now you can move videos, audio, photos, documents, etc.:

Transfer files from Mac to Android:

  • Click File on the AirDroid web screen.
  • Drag and drop the files or folders from your Mac onto this small window. It will wirelessly transfer them to your Android phone.
Send file from Mac to Android wirelessly using AirDroid

Transfer files from Android to Mac:

  • On the AirDroid Web screen, click Summary, and it will show your Android phone.
  • From here, click the tiny info button ⓘ.
  • Select Photos or Videos, and it will open in a small box.
  • Select the file and hit Download. You can also upload files, that is, send files to your Android phone from this same screen.
Get Android file wirelessly to Mac using AirDroid

Besides AirDroid, you can also use other apps like ShareIT, Xender, etc.

Using Google Drive

Finally, if you have free space on your Google Drive, upload the files to Drive from one device and download them onto the other. Besides Google Drive, you can also use Dropbox, OneDrive, and other online storage services.

Do you have some other methods that you like? Please share with us using the comments section below.

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