Best Android TV File Manager: Head-to-Head Test


There’s a lot of discussion about what file manager to use on Android TV’s and TV boxes, especially on places like Reddit. After reading through most of them, I found a lot of opinions, but no place that actually looked at all of the file managers side-by-side to see which one was the best.

When I choose a new app or device, I like to see what all the options are. Since I couldn’t find anywhere that tested all my options, I decided to run that test myself.

If you’re just looking for the winner, I wholeheartedly recommend using X-plore File Manager, and you can find it on the Google Play Store here.

But if you want to dive into the details for each app, keep reading. Each app has a lot of screenshots of me running through some basic functionality.

Hopefully that lets you get an idea of whether that’s the right file manager for you.

Let’s get started.

What’s the Best File Manager for Android TV?

When I started this test, I didn’t have a file manager for Android TV’s that I was really partial to, one way or the other. It seemed that 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 to each other in a head-to-head contest. I downloaded all of the file manager apps that were on the Android TV versions of the Google Play Store or Aptoide TV.

Here’s what I found, and which Android TV file manager I think is best.

Best Android TV File Manager: X-plore File Manager

I normally don’t like split screen file managers. Most of the one’s I’ve seen don’t make good use of the screen’s real estate so you end up with a lot of wasted space. That includes some on this list.

So when I say that the X-plore File Manager has the best layout of any app on this list, just know that it took a lot to get me to that opinion.

X-Plore Android TV file manager (Light theme)

I love the center ribbon menu. It’s a great idea that keeps your focus in the main part of the app and keeps everything you need right in front of you at all times.

You’re also able to 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 side that’s in-focus, and dimming the other side slightly.

It’s a subtle change, but it makes for a really great user experience.

X-Plore Android TV file manager (Dark theme)

Another thing that I really like is 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 exactly which files are taking up space on your device. I’ve been using something similar on my Windows desktop for years. It makes it super-easy to free up space on your device if you’re running low.

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 at the same time, you save a lot of time if you’re moving multiple files.

X-plore does that really well too. Once you’ve got both folders pulled up, a simple long-press on the filename opens the contextual menu. There you can choose from all the usual functions (copy, move, delete) but you also have some additional options to duplicate, share or even add to a zip file.

Like most file managers, you’re able to 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. Not only did the X-plore scan quickly find the drive I was looking for, it also found a Western Digital hard drive that other file manager’s 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.

Not only can you add the usual suspects, but you have the option to add Amazon Cloud Drive, Mega, MediaFire or several other cloud servers as well.

It’s rare 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.

PROS:

  • Free app (no premium features)
  • Side-by-side user interface
  • Most cloud storage integrations of anything on this list
  • Great LAN network scan feature

CONS:

  • User interface can look busy

Runner Up: FX File Explorer

I really wasn’t expecting to like FX File Explorer as much as I did. A few minutes into my test and I’d effortlessly knocked out almost everything that I wanted to do.

FX File Explorer

My first impression was that FX File Explorer has a lot of icons on their home page. That’s in stark contrast to some of the other apps that I’ve tested here.

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 big plus-symbol on the lower right-hand corner to add one.

From there, it asks you what type of network connection you want to add: FTP server, Windows Host, SSH FTP Server or WebDAV Server.

In my case 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 like you would a folder directly on your device itself.

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 that they require. 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. What I like about the menu is that 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 elft with options, based on the type of file and drive. The most popular (cut, copy and delete) are displayed prominently. Other, less popular options, will be hidden in a sub-menu.

One thing I like is 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 it’s contents into whatever directory you’re in.

Another cool feature that FX File Explorer has is that it gives you details on any of the apps that you’ve installed like how much space they take up. From here, 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 as well. 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 of these features are only available on the premium model, like media browsing, network and cloud drive support. However, unlike some of the 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, it’s that premium price tag that 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.

PROS:

  • Easy to use navigation
  • Fully customizable theme
  • Robust network file browsing
  • Access your cloud storage drives
  • Install APK’s, manage or uninstall apps directly from the file manager
  • On Google Play Store

CONS:

  • Cloud and Network support is only available on premium app. ($2.99 one-time fee)

#3: Solid Explorer File Manager

After ES File Explorer was removed from the Google Play Store, a lot of people migrated to the Solid Explorer File Manager. It’s got over one hundred thousand positive reviews, so I was really interested to see how it performed.

However, the free app that’s available 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. There are some customization options 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. It gives some at-a-glance stats for total storage size and how much is still available. You can also quickly go to what the app calls ‘collections’ of your music, photos or video files.

Moving files is fairly easy, but I still prefer the way other apps on this list do it.

Long clicking on a file will pull up a small pup-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 some of the free or similarly priced paid apps, I don’t think its as good a value.

PROS:

  • Side-by-side interface
  • Easy file manipulation

CONS:

  • Free app is a 14-day trial. $1.99 to continue using after that.

#4: MobiSystems File Commander

If you search for file managers in the Android TV Google Play Store, chances are pretty good that MobiSystems File Commander will be first app it returns. So it has to be good, right?

Well…yes and no.

MobiSystems File Commander light theme

Let’s start off with what File Commander does well, because they get a lot right with this app. There’s just a couple of deal-breakers for me, but we’ll cover those at the end.

MobiSystems File Commander dark theme

There are two stock themes you can use 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’m going to 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.

Cloud file access on File Commander

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. There’s a small set of contextual options in the upper-right hand corner, depending on what screen you’re on.

For example, when you’re navigating through your files, any folder level options such as adding a new folder will be in the corner menu. Whereas 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.

On the file screen, it 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 around 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. The process is pretty easy, although I had some issues getting the network scan feature to work correctly.

I was able to manually add my network drive by directly typing in the share name and login credentials.

It all sounds good so far, but you’re probably wondering what the deal-breaker was for me.

File Commander pushes hard for you to sign up to 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, you’ll see so many ads that the file manager is almost unusable…or at the very least incredibly annoying.

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 the discounted rate. That’s far too expensive for what it brings to the table.

PROS:

  • Easy access to your files in the Cloud
  • Intuitive menu and navigation
  • Install APK’s directly
  • On Google Play Store

CONS:

  • Free version is heavy on ads
  • 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.

HiMedia File Manager for Android TV

There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was definitely expecting more when I downloaded it.

HiMedia’s File Manager has a basic interface that lets you browse your internal and external storage. Because it’s so basic, it’s super-easy to navigate to what you need., even though it doesn’t have any quick-access options to get to your downloaded files or media.

The drawback is that it doesn’t give you anything more than basic information. In fact, all you get is the file name and the size. 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 do have the option of installing 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.

PROS:

  • Very easy to use
  • Install APK’s directly
  • On Google Play Store

CONS:

  • Text-only interface
  • Cannot move files
  • Cannot delete files

#6: Anker File Explorer

Another file viewer on the list, the Anker File Explorer has a bit more to the interface. Instead of plain text, it adds a metro-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.

Anker File Explorer

The menu bar at the top of the screen has five options, but you’ll find yourself spending 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 into 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’re able to install APK’s directly from within the app. However, I tried a couple of different APK’s 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 APK’s from the Device tab.

The Music, Picture and Video tabs are a nice touch…again, 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.

As you can see in the image above, I’ve got two listings for each file. The same thing happened for 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 from there. The clunky navigation makes it frustrating to use, even for quick tasks and the file duplication glitch was just the last straw for me.

PROS:

  • Clean design
  • On Google Play Store

CONS:

  • Can only copy files to local drive, not copy to external storage
  • Can only delete files from local storage, not from external storage
  • Media files duplicated which made browsing difficult
  • Could not install APK’s

Conclusion

This was a really interesting test and I’m glad I did it. Most of the Android TV boxes that I review come with a default file manager. So I just stuck with that, and never really bothered finding a file manager that really worked well for me.

What I found was that X-plore and FX File Explorer were easily the two best file managers available on Android TV’s.

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.

Tim Wells

Tim Wells got his first computer at the age of ten and hasn't stopped tinkering ever since. After discovering Android TV boxes in 2013, he created a popular Android PC Review website and guided it to over 8 million pageviews before selling it in 2018. After a brief hiatus from the industry he's back at the helm of AndroidTVNews.com to bring Android TV boxes to the forefront of the streaming world. When he's not writing, he spends as much time as he can with his beautiful wife and his bulldog.

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