Most modern Android devices feature a file manger these days and, although basic, they can usually do a decent job in allowing you to move around, share, delete and generally keep a handle on your on-board files.
However, third-party file managers can come in handy with functionality that can not only supplant the default option but go much further. ES File Explorer is one such app. Downloaded upwards of 300 million times in its existence, it’s certainly a popular choice, and I wanted to see exactly what it could do.
At its heart, the free — and ad-free — ES File Explorer is a fully-featured file manager that gives you control over your locally stored media, documents and more as well as anything on your SD card or cloud storage provider of choice. But the app also has some neat extra features like an app manager, plus cache cleaner and task manager, that make it a more compelling choice.
You get all the basic features you expect from a file manager — the ability to cut, copy, paste, delete, move and rename files. You can select multiple files at once to perform these actions, which makes for a really quick way to move a bunch of data from one place to another. There’s also the ability to compress and decompress ZIP files and unpack RAR files, should you need to. You can tap on individual files to view them, each opening within the ES File Explorer app — even video and music files, although the built-in player is very basic — and some file types like text can be edited without leaving the app. For anyone that’s used a desktop file system, using ES File Explorer will be pretty straightforward as the files within folders metaphor is its basis and you can even adjust how files/folders are shown to your tastes, customizing icon size and sorting order.
Adding cloud accounts is as easy as logging into them. There’s support for Amazon S3, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Drive, SugarSync and more and once you’ve set up your cloud storgae accounts, you can view, edit, and move files in the exact same ways as your local files. This makes it really easy to move large amounts of data from your device to the cloud, all from your phone or tablet. ES File Explorer also functions as an FTP and WebDAV client meaning you can manage files on FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and WebDAV servers just like you manage files locally. It’s advanced and technical to set up but if you need it, it’s possible with ES File Explorer.
To round out the feature set, ES File Explorer also throws in an app manager that allows you to categorize, backup and bulk uninstall apps as well as a cache cleaner and task killer — including home screen widget — that make sure your phone’s available RAM isn’t constantly being sucked up by a particular app of system function.
The features are impressive but I found the overall UI is a little confusing and a lot less friendly than some alternatives, especially at first. It takes some time to get used to how the app works and I’d like see some effort to reduce the learning curve. There are a lot of menus and sub-menus and little in the way of a tutorial. There’s a help article in the app’s settings, but you’re on your own up front. ES File Explorer understandably assumes a level of technical knowledge if you have gone out of your way to download an app of this kind, but I think some more clear guidance would help a lot.
What ES File Explorer offers is a comprehensive suite of features for managing all manner or files — local, network or cloud — as well as tools to maintain the performance of your Android device all in one package, reducing the need to install multiple apps for these purposes. The UI can be a littler overwhelming, particularly for less experienced or less tech-savvy users, but once you’re up and running, ES File Explorer could become your one-stop shop for managing files.
Check out ES File Explorer on Google Play where it can be downloaded for free.