Tablets

Connect Android to Windows and Samba shared directories

Jack Wallen walks you through the process of connecting your Android tablet to your Windows and Samba shared folders with the help of ES File Explorer.

If you need to share files between your Android device and a PC, what do you do? You could slap on Dropbox, but that limits you to a single folder. When you want a bit more control over what can be shared to the Android device, you might want to go the route of Samba or Windows shared folders. On the PC end, you have to share the folders out, but what about on the Android side of things?

The solution is simple. You install ES File Explorer and enjoy a trouble-free connection between your Android device and your shared folders.

Features

ES File Explorer touts a huge feature list, including:

  • File manager
  • Multi-select files
  • Application manager (install, uninstall, backup, shortcuts, category)
  • Compress and decompress ZIP files
  • View different file formats, photos, docs, videos anywhere
  • Thumbnails with built-in image browser
  • Text viewers and editors
  • Search files
  • Access PC, via Wi-Fi with SMB
  • FTP
  • Dropbox, Box.net, SugarSync support
  • Bluetooth file transfer
  • Kill tasks
  • Shortcuts, bookmark manager (this feature needs ES Bookmark Manager module installed)
  • Root explorer feature

The feature we want to focus on is SMB and how to connect ES File Explorer to your SMB-enabled machine. Naturally, you'll need to have a PC with shared folders. I've tried this with Windows 7 shared folders and a Linux-based Samba-enabled desktop machine, and both worked seamlessly.

Installation

The installation of ES File Explorer is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open up Google Play on your tablet
  2. Search for "es file explorer" (no quotes)
  3. Tap the ES File Explorer entry (not the entry for Cupcake)
  4. Tap Download
  5. Tap Accept & download

That's it! You're ready to begin.

Usage

First and foremost, your Android tablet must be on the same network as your shared resources. Most likely, this will mean connecting to the Wi-Fi on your network (as you cannot make this connection using your 3G or 4G network). Once you've made the connection to your wireless network, fire up the ES File Explorer app from within the App Drawer. When this application opens, you'll be greeted with the local file system on the tablet (Figure A). Figure A

Here you see the listing on the SD card of a Verizon-branded Galaxy 7.7 Tab.
Tap the Change View drop-down in the upper left corner. By default it will say "Local." When you tap this, a new window will appear (Figure B) with a listing of possible connections. Figure B

In order to successfully connect to the LAN, you must be connected to the wireless network.
Now that you're in the LAN view (Figure C), it's time to set up a connection to your SMB-enabled machine. Figure C

As you can see, I've already added a Linux Mint PC.
Tap the New button to bring up the setup window (Figure D). In this dialog, you'll need the following information:
  • Domain (optional)
  • Server (IP Address)
  • Username (must be a valid user able to access the shared directories)
  • Password (for the above username)
  • Display as (name you want this connection to be listed as)
Figure D

If you have guest connections enabled, you can check the box for Anonymous to bypass the username/password.
Complete filling out this information, and then click the OK button. This will place an icon for that connection in the LAN screen of ES File Explorer. Tap the icon to open the connection. Once the connection is open, you'll see a listing of the shared files/folders on that machine (Figure E). Figure E

Here you see a listing of all folders available for the connected user, including shared printers.

Dropbox, SugarSync, Box connect

It's also possible to include cloud-based syncing accounts. Here's how:

  1. Tap the View Change drop-down (top left corner)
  2. Select Net from the list
  3. Tap the New button
  4. Select the service (Box, Dropbox, SugarSync) you want to connect to
  5. Enter your credentials for the account
  6. Give the account a name
  7. Tap OK

Once you've successfully authenticated to your account, an icon for that account will appear in the Net section of ES File Explorer. Tap on that icon to reveal all of your sync'd files and folders within that account.

ES File Explorer might well be the easiest way to get your Android tablet access to shared files and folders on both a network and your cloud-based accounts. Give this app a try -- you probably won't ever touch another file manager on the Android tablet.

Have you used a file manager on your Android tablet that you'd recommend to the TechRepublic community? Share your experience(s) in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

4 comments
SysCephas
SysCephas

This made my week. I'm new to android, though not to *nix, and I couldn't do this from the command line, even with su privileges.

Five other "power file explorers" later, I found this little gem. I lost a night of my life, but gained a new respect for this app developer.

Thanks!

comnut2k
comnut2k

say you have a folder, with a few nested folders inside.. how easy is it to copy this *whole* folder, with its files and folder structure, between windows and android?? and can this work *without* rooting??? :/

APSDave
APSDave

For tablets to really take off in the corporate space, they need to be able to easily access resources on the network like desktops and laptops do. I run this on my tablet and can then pull up spreadsheets, docs, etc from the network without having to transfer them via cable or dropbox.

Daniel Breslauer
Daniel Breslauer

It's one of the absolute must-haves for Android. I use it on a phone (no tablets for me). Ideal for transferring files from network shares to your Android device. Also a great device for navigating your files in general - my Windows usage is mostly centered around Explorer; ES File Explorer is the Android equivalent. This should be part of Android, not a separate app.