How to Use Android Marshmallow's File Manager

Manage your files with ease (mostly) and free up space

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One of the greatest things about Android is the full control you get over your smartphone. This means you can download nearly any app you want, customize your device, and access files that are restricted by other mobile operating systems. (Ahem, Apple.) Before Android Marshmallow, you had to use third-party apps to access a file manager, but now it's a little bit easier. Here's the how, what, and why of the Android file manager.

Once you upgrade to Marshmallow, you no longer need to download an app to get to the file manager, among its many other enhancements. However, it's not available as a separate app. To access it, you have to go into settings and tap Storage & USB. Here you can see how much room the Android OS takes up, and how much other storage you're using. Tap Internal Storage, and you can view all of your files, organized into several categories, including apps, images, video, audio, and cached data, and see how much space each takes up. 

Go into Apps, and you'll see a full list of apps you've downloaded and those that were pre-loaded onto your device. From here, you can clear app data and the cache, but you can't delete them from here. To delete an unwanted app or one that isn't functioning properly you can either visit the Google Play Store and tap on "my apps" and then uninstall or you can drag unwanted apps from the app drawer into the trash icon that appears when you press and hold an app.

Unfortunately, you can't delete many pre-loaded apps, otherwise known as bloatware, without rooting your device. 

However, if one of your apps isn't working correctly, clearing the cache sometimes does the trick. Scroll down to the bottom of the list and tap Explore - now you're inside the file manager.

You can view your files in a list or grid and sort by name, date, and size. There's also a helpful search function available. If you have a memory card installed, you can also access its files here. 

Managing Your Files

Now you can manage your data easily, view files, copy them between apps, or delete them. This is an easy way to move files between cloud storage services if you're switching providers or copying images over to a different photo program. Note that you can only copy files, you can't move them from one place to another, so you may end up losing space if you don't delete the original. That's a bit tedious. Another way to save space locally is to back up your pictures to Google Photos, which offers unlimited storage and enables you to access your images on any device.

Beyond apps and pictures, you can also access ringtones, and files associated with apps. Cleaning up these files is a great way to make space on your Android smartphone. It's always a good idea to backup your data first, though, in case you accidentally delete something important.

How it Stacks Up

The Marshmallow file manager is minimalist and can't compete with third party apps like ES File Explorer or Solid Explorer, which offer features like drag and drop, Bluetooth sharing, and the ability to kill tasks on the fly.

There are also apps that link to cloud storage, such as Astro Cloud & File Manager. However, if you just want to do a quick cleanup, as you would on a computer, it does the trick.

Of course, if you really want to access the deepest system files, you'll need to root your smartphone and install a third-party file manager. Rooting your smartphone is somewhat easy and the risks are relatively small. The benefits include the ability to manage all the files on your smartphone, remove bloatware, and more.

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