[Android] Best free file manager

Some (most) phones come with file manager apps; others do not. The brilliance of Android is even for those that have file manager apps, you can still download a different file manager app if you want from Android Market. This article explores and recommends the best free file manager app for Android.

This article is part of our Best Free Android Apps repository. Feel free to drop by when you have time!

Table of Contents

Best Free File Manager

App Name: Explorer

Developer: Speed Software

Download Size: 220 KB

Version Reviewed: v1.0

Requires: Android 1.1 and up


  • Lightweight, fast, and efficient.
  • Provides all the basic file management features.
  • Doesn’t require any dubious access permissions (only requires one permission).
  • Allows users to view files/folders in simple list, detailed list, or icons view.
  • Can create ZIPs from files or folders.
  • Allows users to “bookmark” folders for quick access.
  • Ads free.


  • Not a root explorer.
  • Interface and icons are not very aesthetically pleasing nor are there any custom skins available.
  • Doesn’t contain many of the “bells and whistles” other file managers have such as app management, SMB server, etc.
  • Built-in text editor is average quality.


File managers are a dime a dozen in Android Market. Trying to select the “best” out of them all is a difficult task seeing as a lot of them are quality apps. To determine the “best”, I looked for something that made a file manager stand apart from the rest. I found Explorer does not contain any special exemplary features. Rather, it differentiates itself from the horde by resorting to the basics: Explorer makes itself stand out by being lightweight (220 KB), fast, and efficient. It is a no-frills file manager that allows users to… manage their files. Plus it is ads free.

That said, however, the biggest drawback to Explorer I found is the lack of root management. If you want to access the system folders on your phone (i.e. root required) you will be asked to purchase Speed Software’s Root Explorer (about $4). While personally I find it to be ridiculous to ask $4 for a root manager considering there are cheaper (paid and free) root file managers out there, I will not hold the price of Explorer’s paid counterpart against it.

The bottom-line is if you are looking for a “feature-filled”, multi-functional manager, Explorer is not for you. However, if you are looking for a file manager that will get the job done, Explorer should be your app of choice.

Runner Up

App Name: File Expert

Developer: Geek Software Technology Inc.

Download Size: 1.05 MB

Version Reviewed: v3.0.9

Requires: Android 1.6 and up


Explorer, as just discussed, is a bare-bones file manager. File Expert, on the other hands, is a feature-filled file manager that is not only a file manager, but also a root explorer (you must turn on root explorering capabilities manually through the preferences) and an app manager. Furthermore, it allows users to wirelessly access their phone by becoming an adhoc FTP/HTTP server, provides SMB support, and more. All this without ads.

Whereas Explorer’s aesthetics is nothing to write home about, File Expert has been expertly designed in regards to aesthetics and interface: It is visually attractive, easy to navigate, and simple to use. There are even two themes one can use (a light theme, which comes by default, and a dark theme, which needs to be downloaded – for free – afterwards).

Honestly and truly I had trouble deciding if Explorer or File Expert should be named best free file manager. In the end I decided to give Explorer the crown because its simplicity makes it stand out from the crowd, whereas there are other feature filled file managers out there. However, even as second place, I have no hesitancy in recommending File Expert for those that are looking for more *umph* in their file manager.

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