There’s a lot of discussion about finding the best file manager to use on Android TVs, Google TVs, and TV boxes, especially on places like Reddit.
After reading through most of them, I found a lot of opinions.
Most people would try out one or two file managers and stop there. Nobody took the time to look at all of them side-by-side to see which one was the best.
So that’s what I did.
In this article, I’ll cover the highlights of each app, complete with lots of screenshots. I’ll talk about what each Android TV file manager does well and where I think they fall short.
Every app on this list will work on Android TV, TV boxes running the pure Android OS, and devices with the newer Google TV OS.
Let’s get started.
The Best File Managers for Android TV & Google TV
When I started this test, I didn’t have a file manager for Android TVs that I really liked. Every TV box I tested had a different file manager installed by default.
I don’t really use them for much besides basic manipulation.
Copying files from one directory to another.
Accessing a shared drive.
Stuff like that.
So I wanted to see how they all compared in a head-to-head contest. I downloaded all of the file manager apps on the Android TV versions of the Google Play Store or Aptoide TV.
After testing them all, here’s which Android TV file manager I think is best.
Best Android TV File Manager: X-plore File Manager
I usually don’t like split-screen file managers.
Most don’t make good use of the screen’s real estate, so you have a lot of wasted space – even some on this list.
So when I say that the X-plore File Manager has the best layout of any app on this list, understand that it took a lot to get me to that opinion.
I love the center ribbon menu!
It’s a great idea that keeps your focus on the main part of the app and keeps everything you need right in front of you.
You can also arrange the order of the menu icons however you like, which is a nice touch.
Most side-by-side file managers don’t do a good job of telling you which side you’re working with at any given time. X-plore solves that by using brighter colors and sharper texts on the in-focus side and dimming the other side slightly.
It’s a subtle change, but it makes for a great user experience.
Another thing that I really like is that X-plore has a built-in Dark theme, which of course, I switched to right away.
One of my favorite features is a Disk Map visualization that shows which files are taking up space on your device. It makes it super-easy to free up space on your device if you’re running low.
It’s not quite as good as Storage Analyzer & Disk Usage, but it’s a nice addition to your file manager. For more on the Storage Analyzer & Disk Usage app, check out my review of it here.
One of the big reasons to use a side-by-side screen layout on your file manager is to make copying or moving files easier. When the source and destination folders are both on the screen simultaneously, you save a lot of time if you’re moving multiple files.
X-plore does that really well too.
Once both folders are pulled up, a simple long-press on the filename opens the contextual menu. You can choose from all the usual functions (copy, move, delete). Still, you also have additional options to duplicate, share, or even add to a zip file.
Like most file managers, you can add network or FTP shares as well. The process with X-plore is really easy.
In my case, I wanted to add a NAS drive set up on my Windows network.
The X-plore scan quickly found the drive I was looking for, and it also found a Western Digital hard drive that other file managers didn’t locate.
Several file managers have options to add cloud storage like Google Drive or OneDrive.
Here, X-plore goes above and beyond as well.
You can add the usual cloud storage services. However, you can also add Amazon Cloud Drive, Mega, MediaFire, or several other cloud servers.
It’s not often that I don’t find anything I want to change in an app or a piece of hardware that I’m testing. But that’s what happened this time.
X-plore is simply the best file manager available on Android TV, in my opinion.
- Free app (no premium features)
- Side-by-side user interface
- Most cloud storage integrations of anything on this list
- Great LAN network scan feature
- The user interface can look busy
Runner Up: FX File Explorer
I wasn’t expecting to like FX File Explorer as much as I did. After only a few minutes, I’d effortlessly performed everything I needed to do.
Unlike most of the other file manager apps I’ve tested, FX File Explorer has a lot of icons on its home page.
All in all, there are eighteen different icons in the main window!
But…after a second, I started to realize why they did that. While some apps will throw everything in a ribbon menu or a settings screen, FX File Explorer puts things in their own icon.
For example, to set up or see the files on a network share, you just click the Network icon to go to that screen.
If you have a network connection already set up, it’ll be displayed here, along with some basic stats. If not, click on the plus symbol in the lower right-hand corner to add one.
It asks you what type of network connection you want to add: FTP server, Windows Host, SSH FTP Server, or WebDAV Server.
I wanted to add a link to my NAS drive, which is set up as a Windows Share.
I was able to quickly browse my network and select the drive I wanted. That also pre-populated some of the configuration details to make it easier.
Once the share is set up, you access that folder the same as you would a folder directly on your device.
The same goes for adding Cloud connections to Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, DropBox, OwnCloud, or SugarSync.
Once you select what service you have, simply enter your credentials and approve any permissions required. Then you’re all set.
Navigating around your device’s folders is super-easy through the combination of the icons and a small ribbon menu near the top.
I like the menu because it doesn’t take up any more screen space than it needs to.
Selecting a file with a long press will pull up a small menu on the left with options based on the type of file and drive.
The most popular (cut, copy and delete) are displayed prominently. Other, less popular choices will be hidden in a sub-menu.
I like that you can multi-select several files to move or delete at once, which is a great time saver.
Pasting the files in the new directory is also done through the menu on the left-hand side.
FX File Explorer has a clipboard section of the menu where you can either clear the clipboard or paste its contents into whatever directory you’re in.
Another cool feature that FX File Explorer has is that it gives you details on any of your installed apps, like how much space they take up. You can uninstall offending apps without going back to your device’s Settings menu.
Back on the main menu, there are apps to quickly find all of your media files.
For example, in the Music section, you can sort by artist, album, create playlists, find podcasts, and even your ringtones…all at a click.
Some features are only available on the premium model, like media browsing or network and cloud drive support.
However, unlike some other apps on this list, FX File Explorer Plus is only a one-time cost of $2.99.
Even without those features, this is an app I wouldn’t mind paying $2.99 for. Throwing them into the mix makes this a no-brainer.
However, that premium price tag drops FX File Explorer to #2 on this list. X-plore offers similar functionality in a free app.
FX is a close second, but X-plore still takes the top spot.
- Easy to use navigation
- Fully customizable theme
- Robust network file browsing
- Access your cloud storage drives
- Install APKs, manage or uninstall apps directly from the file manager
- On Google Play Store
- Cloud and Network support is only available on the premium app. ($2.99 one-time fee)
#3: Solid Explorer File Manager
After ES File Explorer was removed from the Google Play Store, many people migrated to the Solid Explorer file manager.
It’s got over one hundred thousand positive reviews, so I was interested in seeing how it performed.
However, the free version of the app is only a 14-day trial. To keep using the file manager after that, you’ll need to spend $1.99 (or $2.99 after the trial has ended).
Solid Explorer is a side-by-side file manager with a clean, simple interface. Some customization options are available in the Settings menu that let you change theme colors and styles.
The main menu interface is on the left side of the screen, and it gives some at-a-glance stats for total storage size and free space available.
You can also quickly go to what the app calls ‘collections’ of your music, photos, or video files.
Moving files is relatively easy, but I still prefer the way other apps on this list do it.
Long clicking on a file will pull up a small pop-up menu with options to cut, copy, delete, edit or share the file.
From there, it’s a simple matter of navigating to the destination directory in the other window pane and pasting the file.
If this were a free app, I’d be happier with Solid Explorer as an Android TV file manager, placing them higher on this list.
When I compare it to other free or similarly priced paid apps, I don’t think it’s as good a value.
- Side-by-side interface
- Easy file manipulation
- The free app is a 14-day trial. $1.99 to continue using after that.
#4: MobiSystems File Commander
Chances are pretty good that MobiSystems File Commander was the first app returned when searching for file managers in the Android TV Google Play Store.
So it has to be good, right?
Well…yes and no.
Let’s start with what File Commander does well because they get a lot right with this app.
There are just a couple of deal-breakers for me, but we’ll cover those at the end.
There are two stock themes on File Commander: Light and Dark. You can also have the app switch themes automatically to help you save on battery life, which is pretty cool.
Personally, if an app gives me the option of a dark theme, I will take it. So that’s what the majority of the remaining screenshots will show.
First, File Commander makes it super-easy to get at your files, even if you’re storing them in the Cloud. There are integrations for Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, and Dropbox.
The menu system is clean and very intuitive, especially on Android TV.
The main menu on the left-hand side is where you’ll find most of your options.
Depending on what screen you’re on, there’s a small set of contextual options in the upper-right-hand corner.
For example, any folder-level options such as adding a new folder will be in the corner menu when navigating through your files. Any file options like cut, copy, rename or delete will be on a side menu that’s collapsed until you open it.
The first time you use File Commander, it takes a few seconds to figure out where the different menus are. After that, you just intuitively know where things will be.
The file screen shows just the right amount of information for each file. You’ll quickly see the name, file type, size, and file date.
There’s also a Properties option on the menu if you want to know a little more.
Moving files is done through the same menu. Simply cut or move the file from the source directory, navigate to the target directory and click paste.
In addition to the four cloud storage services that I mentioned earlier, you can add shared drives on your network. Although I had some issues getting the network scan feature to work correctly, the process is pretty straightforward.
I manually added my network drive by directly typing in the share name and login credentials.
It all sounds good, but you’re probably wondering what the deal-breaker was for me.
File Commander pushes hard for you to sign up for their premium subscription service. Even at the promotional 50% off offer, it’s still $2.49 a month!
For that price, you get an additional 50 GB of cloud storage directly from MobiSystems. You also get a Storage Analyzer feature, a Recycle Bin, and the ability to see hidden files and folders.
If you want to continue to use the free version, the number of ads makes this file manager almost unusable.
I can understand a subscription model for antivirus or a VPN, but not an Android TV file manager.
A one-year subscription to File Commander will cost you $29.88 at a discounted rate, which is far too expensive for what it brings to the table.
- Easy access to your files in the Cloud
- Intuitive menu and navigation
- Install APKs directly
- On Google Play Store
- The free version is heavy on ads
- The premium model is expensive
#5: HiMedia File Manager
I like the HiMedia File Manager, but calling it a “file manager” is a bit of a stretch.
It’s nothing more than a file viewer.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was expecting more when I downloaded it.
HiMedia’s File Manager has a basic interface to browse your internal and external storage.
It’s super-easy to navigate to what you need but doesn’t have any quick-access options to get to your downloads so you can delete them.
The drawback is that it doesn’t give you anything more than rudimentary information.
In fact, all you get is the file name and the size, and there’s no indication of how much space is used or still available.
More importantly, there’s no way to manipulate the files at all. That means you can’t move, rename or delete your files with this app.
Once you find the file you’re looking for, you can send it to another app to open. If it’s an APK, you can install it directly from within File Manager.
Overall, I like this app for what it is, but it’s so limited that I would just use a more robust file manager instead.
- Very easy to use
- Install APKs directly
- On Google Play Store
- Text-only interface
- Cannot move files
- Cannot delete files
#6: Anker File Explorer
Another file viewer on the list, the Anker File Explorer, has more to the interface.
Instead of plain text, it adds a metro-interface look to the launcher. Even though it feels a bit dated, it’s easy no navigate around…at least at first glance.
The finer points of navigating around the screen are hidden, so you’re constantly feeling like you don’t know what button to press to get you where you want to go.
The menu bar at the top of the screen has five options, but you’ll spend most of your time in the Device section.
That’s where you’ll see an icon for each type of storage in your device.
Clicking on one of the drives will blow out the folder structure into more detail on the right-hand side of the screen.
A huge icon with the name of the folder you’re in takes up the entire left half of the screen.
Once you get down to the individual file level, you’ll have a couple of different options, depending on what type of file it is.
You can send movies or music files to the player of your choice. You’ll also be able to delete files from internal storage or copy files from external storage over to the internal storage.
It won’t work in reverse, however.
You’re not able to copy from internal storage to external storage. Nor can you delete files from external storage.
In theory, you can install APKs directly from within the app. However, I tried a couple of different APKs and kept getting a “Problem parsing the package” error.
In all honesty, I’m not sure what the APK tab on the menu is supposed to do.
No matter what combination of buttons I tried, nothing seemed to do anything. And as I mentioned, in theory, you’re supposed to be able to install APKs from the Device tab.
The Music, Picture, and Video tabs are a nice touch, in theory.
Unlike some of the other Android TV file managers I looked at, I didn’t have to tell the app where to look. It automatically detected where my media files were and displayed them in the appropriate tab.
The trouble is that it displayed every file twice. For example, my Movies folder has two versions of each movie: one in .mkv and one in .mp4 formats.
I’ve got two listings for each file, as you can see in the image above. The same thing happened to all of my photos and music files too.
The Anker File Explorer seems like a good file manager at first glance, but it quickly goes downhill. The clunky navigation makes it frustrating to use, even for quick tasks, and the file duplication glitch was just the last straw for me.
- Clean design
- On Google Play Store
- Can only copy files to a local drive, not copy to external storage
- Can only delete files from local storage, not from external storage
- Media files were duplicated, which made browsing difficult
- Could not install APKs
This was a fascinating test, and I’m glad I did it. Most of the Android TV boxes I review come with a default file manager. So I just stuck with that and never really bothered finding a file manager that worked well for me.
I found that X-plore and FX File Explorer were easily the two best file managers available on Android TVs.
X-plore gets the win because it’s a free app that includes most, if not all, of the functionality I need. FX File Explorer is a great app that’s well worth the $2.99 price tag. But it’s hard to compete with free.
If you want to find out what my favorite Android TV and TV box apps are, check out my list of best Android TV apps here.