Ever want to watch a video on your Phone or tablet without wasting its storage space? Or maybe you just need to view a file your friend gave you. Most modern Android devices support standard USB drives, so you can plug in a flash drive just like you would on a computer.
Modern versions of Android have improved support for external storage devices, but on some older devices, this process may require rooting. So we’ll discuss both methods here, starting with the easy, non-root method for newer phones and tablets.
First: Get a USB OTG Cable
You’ve probably noticed that your phone doesn’t have a normal USB port. In order to connect the flash drive to your phone or tablet, you’ll need a USB on-the-go cable (also known as USB OTG). These cables can be had for $5 or so on Amazon. It’s a short adapter cable with a small MicroUSB connection at one end and a larger USB connection at the other end.
Unfortunately, this may not work on some devices. Your Android device needs the ability to function as an OTG host. Some smartphones and tablets may not have this ability, so you may want to perform a web search to see if your device is compatible before purchasing a cable.
Once you have it, just use the cable to connect your Android phone or tablet and USB drive together–that’s it. This cable can also be used to connect other types of USB devices to your Android phone or tablet, including USB keyboards, mice, and gamepads.
Supported File Systems
Your USB drive should ideally be formatted with the FAT32 file system for maximum compatibility. Some Android Devices may also support the exFAT file system. No Android devices will support Microsoft’s NTFS file system, unfortunately.
If your device isn’t formatted with an appropriate file system, you’ll be able to format it after connecting it to your Android device. Formatting the drive will erase its contents, however, so you should ideally make sure it’s in the correct format when you first transfer files to it.
The Non-Root Method: For Most Newer Devices
On modern versions of Android, you’ll get a notification saying the drive is “for transferring photos and media” after you attach it. You’ll see an “Explore” button that will allow you to browse the files on the drive, and an “Eject” button that will allow you to safely remove the drive.