If you're like me, you need to be able to get to your desktop files from your Android tablet. There are various ways of doing this (cloud storage, for example), but one sure-fire way is to use a file manager to connect to shared directories. This method will enable you to connect to shares on both Windows and Linux machines. It will also -- depending upon how you have your shared folders set up (and what apps you have on your tablet) -- allow you to save and edit the files on your tablet. Believe it or not, it's incredibly simple to connect to your shares using the ASTRO File Manager and a simple SMB add on.
I'll demonstrate how this works using a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab and a Ubuntu 12.04.01 desktop. On the desktop side, I've shared out the Documents in my home directory and allowed guest access. Now, let's begin the process of installing and connecting.
If you don't already have the ASTRO File Manager installed, here are the steps:
- Open up the Google Play Store
- Search for "astro" (no quotes)
- Tap the ASTRO File Manager entry
- Tap Download
- Tap Accept & download
- Allow the installation to complete
Now, you have two choices at this point; you can go back to the Google Play Store and search again for "astro" (no quotes) and install the ASTRO SMB Module, or you can install the module from within the ASTRO File Manager. Either way, that module will have to be installed.
Go to the app drawer and tap the launcher for ASTRO File Manager.
Connecting to a shareThe first time you open the ASTRO File Manager, you'll have to accept the License Agreement. From the main window, click Manage My Files. In the new window that appears (Figure A), tap the network icon in the top right corner. Next, tap the New button in the top right corner, and then tap SMB. If you haven't already installed the SMB Module, you'll be prompted to do so. Figure A
At first, the interface can be a bit confusing with all those folders.In the setup window (Figure B), enter all the necessary information. Most of it is straightforward, but there are a couple of gotchas:
- Do not enter a Share
- Do not enter a directory unless that directory is a sub-directory of a shared folder
For some reason, even when you have the Share setup properly, it will throw an error.
Another note on the connection. If you have guest access set up on your shares, you'll need to use "guest" (no quotes) as the User Name and no Password. If you do not have guest set up, use an existing (and valid) username/password combination.After you enter the correct information, click the Test button to make sure it's set up properly. If you get the OK, click the Save button, and you'll be returned to the Networks window (Figure C). Figure C
Here is ASTRO SMB connections as set up on the Verizon-branded Samsung tablet.From the Networks window, tap on the newly created SMB icon to connect to your share and reveal the shared folders (Figure D). Figure D
Although print shares will show up, your tablet most likely will not print to those printers.
If you want to make life easier on yourself, you can create a bookmark for the shared directory. Simply follow these steps:
- Go to the Networks window
- Tap on the SMB connection that you want to connect to
- Long-tap on the directory you want to create the bookmark for
- Tap Bookmark from the pop-up menu (Figure E)
Use caution when deleting or renaming shares.Once you've created the bookmark, you can more easily get to that share by tapping the listing under the Bookmarks section of the ASTRO File Manager interface (Figure F). Figure F
Here you see Documents set up as a bookmark.
Now that you've managed to connect to your shared directories, how you open files will depend on what applications are installed on your tablet. But at this point, you're officially able to share files between your Android tablet and your SMB-shared folders and files on your PC.
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.