Transfer files and control your phone wirelessly with AirDroid for Android

Managing files and data on an Android device can be a chore at times. To move files back and forth you have to keep a micro USB cable handy. Not only that, in order to move files to your phone’s SD card it has to first be unmounted from your phone, which can take a while if you’re still using an ancient phone with limited internal memory (like me) and have tons of applications installed to the SD card.

Enter AirDroid.

AirDroid not only makes it easy to manage your files, but also do other managerial tasks on your phone, all wirelessly!

Setting up AirDroid is pretty painless. After connecting your Android device to the same wireless network as your computer, just open AirDroid on your phone. Hit the “Start” button (if it doesn’t start automatically) and type the displayed IP address into your favorite web browser on your computer. Then just enter the four digit password. You’re in!

Everything on the main AirDroid ‘desktop’ is pretty self-explanatory. From here you can browse text messages (and send new ones), uninstall apps from your phone, install new apps if you have the APK file handy on your computer, share clipboard contents between your computer and phone, and much more.

One of my favorite uses for AirDroid is to move files to and from my phone. File transfers are a bit slower over wireless than over USB, but if I’m feeling extra lazy the convenience of AirDroid wins out. Even better, through the magic of VNC I can start AirDroid, connect to my computer through a VNC client (I use android-vnc-viewer), connect from there back to my phone, and transfer files without ever physically needing to touch my computer. Theoretically you could take it a step further and set up a VPN to transfer files from your home computer even when you’re out of the house, but that isn’t something I’ve personally tried.

AirDroid might not completely revolutionize the Android experience, but it certainly makes managing your phone more convenient. Best of all, it’s free!

AirDroid can be downloaded free of charge from the Android Market.

How to Share Files and Drives from Your Computer in a Remote Desktop Session

Windows includes built-in remote access/support software called Remote Desktop Connection.  This software is a quick and easy way to access another computer, whether to use your personal computer while away from home or to provide remote support for somebody else.

A somewhat hidden feature of Remote Desktop Connection is the ability to access files from your local computer while in a remote session.  This is incredibly useful if you need to copy a file from your computer to the remote computer.

Enabling File Sharing

To enable local drive access, open Remote Desktop Connection and click the Options >> button.

Click the Local Resources tab.

Click the More… button.

Check the Drives box to enable your local drives on the remote computer.  If you expand the Drives tree, you can specify which of your local drives appear on the remote computer, including drives you haven’t connected yet.

Now when you connect to the remote computer, open My Computer and your local drives will be available under Other Drives.  That’s it!

How to Connect to a Windows Remote Desktop

Previously, I covered the steps for setting up your computer to receive Remote Desktop connections, enabling you to control your computer from any other computer on the internet.   In this guide, I will cover the procedure for connecting to your Remote Desktop enabled computer  from another computer via the internet.

Connecting from Windows XP/Vista/7

  1. Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > Remote Desktop Connection.
  2. In the window, enter the IP address of the computer you are connecting to the IP address text field, as shown below.
  3. remote-desktop-xp
    Remote Desktop in Windows XP
    Remote Desktop in Windows Vista/7
  4. Once the IP address has been entered, click Connect.
  5. When prompted, enter your username and password to connect to the remote computer.
  6. To disconnect from the session and leave it running, click Start > Disconnect.
  7. To logoff the session, click Start > Log Off.

Connecting from OS X

  1. Mac OS X version 10.4.9 (Tiger) or a later version of Mac OS is required to install the software.
  2. Download the Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac from Microsoft.
  3. Double-click the file that you downloaded to place the Remote Desktop Connection volume on your desktop.
  4. In the Remote Desktop Connection volume window, double-click the Remote Desktop Connection.mpkg application to start the installation process, and then follow the instructions on the screen.
  5. To disconnect from the session and leave it running, click Start > Disconnect.
  6. To logoff the session, click Start > Log Off.

How to Enable Windows Remote Desktop

remote-desktop-thumbRemote Desktop is Microsoft’s built-in software that allows you to access a computer from any other computer via the internet.  Remotely accessing your computer can be a valuable resource if you need access to files and other information if you do not have physical access to the computer.

Note: Remote Desktop access is only available in the Professional, Business, or Ultimate versions of Windows. Home editions cannot be accessed with Remote Desktop, but do include the Remote Desktop client so you can access other computers.

Enabling Remote Desktop Windows XP

  1. Click Start then Right-click My Computer.
  2. Left-click properties.
  3. Click the Remote Tab.
  4. In the Remote Desktop section, check the box Allow users to connect remotely to this computer.
  5. Click OK.

Enabling Remote Desktop in Windows Vista/7

  1. Click Start and then Right-click My Computer.
  2. Select Remote Settings on the left.
  3. Click the radio button Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop.
  4. Click OK.

Once Remote Desktop has been enabled, you will need to locate your IP address which uniquely identifies your computer.  If your computer is behind a router, you must configure your port forwarding to provide access on Port 3389.  If you are not familiar with port forwarding, more information can be found here.