How to use Files Go as a way to free up space on your Android device and share files

Files Go is an easy way to clear up space and share files to other users. Jack Wallen shows you how to install and use this new app by Google.

Image: Jack Wallen

With Android Oreo, Google included a file manager tucked within the Downloads app. The app is limited in what it can do, but still fills a much-needed hole. Google has taken this one step further recently to fill another gap in Android with a tool that allows users to not only free up storage space, but back files up to the cloud and share those files with other smartphones.

Files Go is a key component to the Android Oreo 8.1 Go edition, a slimmed down version of Android used on lower powered devices in developing nations. If you've been searching for a new file manager for Android, Files Go could fill that need.

Files Go offers a few extra features you might not find in other, similar apps:

  • Direct access to downloads, received files, apps, images, documents
  • Offers suggestions for freeing space on your device
  • Can move files to SD cards (if available)
  • Share files to other Files Go user
  • Encrypted file sharing

Let's install and use this new app to see if it does what it promises.


Files Go can be installed on any device running Android 5 or greater. The installation is simple:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your device
  2. Search for Files Go
  3. Locate and tap the entry by Google
  4. Tap Install
  5. Allow the installation to complete

You should now see a launcher for Files Go on your home screen or in your App Drawer, or both. Tap the launcher to open the app.


From the main window (Figure A), you can take care of most everything you need.

Figure A

Figure A

The Files Go main window.

The first thing Files Go will offer is to locate unused apps. Tap GET STARTED and the app will require you to enable Permit usage access. When prompted tap GO TO SETTINGS, tap Files Go (Figure B), and then tap the On/Off slider to the On position.

Figure B

Figure B

Enabling usage access for Files Go.

Once you've done that, tap the back button until you return to the Files Go app. The Unused apps section should now display how much space it can free up by deleting unused apps (in my case 464MB). Tap the entry, select the unused apps you're okay deleting, and then tap UNINSTALL.

You'll find the Large files section can free up more space on your device. In my case, 3.48GB.

Sharing files to other Files Go users

Let's walk through the process of sharing files through Files Go. This can be handy in a situation where you need to quickly transfer a file to another user's device, without having to go through the process of sending it via email or a messaging app. In other words, the shared file is transferred directly to an easily accessed folder within the device's internal storage. If you tap the Files tab (bottom of the app window), you gain access to the Files Go file manager. In order to make this work, you must allow the app access to various settings (including modify system settings). From the Files window tap the SEND button (Figure C) and the app will walk you through the process of enabling the necessary permissions.

Figure C

Figure C

Sending a file to another Files Go user.

After all permissions are granted, you will be asked for your name so other users can recognize you. Type a name and tap NEXT. Files Go will then prompt you to have your friend open the app and tap Receive. When the app finds the user, it will display in the window (Figure D). Tap the user and they will then be prompted to okay the connection.

Figure D

Figure D

Connecting to an offline user.

With the connection made, Files Go will open to a list of files. Locate and select the file you want to transfer and then tap the Send button. The file will be saved on the receiver's device and appear in the Received files tab in the File manager.

Saving files to your cloud account

From within the File manager, you can also select a file and then share it directly to your Google Drive account, by means of the built-in Android sharing mechanism. This makes it really easy to transfer files from internal storage to your cloud account.

To do this, open up the File Manager tab, locate the file to be uploaded, tap the sharing button, and then tap the Drive icon.

Makes cleaning and sharing easy

And that's the gist of using Files Go. It's a fairly quick means to clearing up space on your device, backing up, and sharing files with other Files Go users. This isn't a deal breaking app, but does make clearing out and sharing files pretty easy--something every Android user can appreciate.

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....