6 Quick Ways To Find And Open Downloads on Android
Let’s be honest…
The ubiquity of mobile devices these days – especially Android devices which account for almost 90% of all mobile devices worldwide – means that more and more people are jumping onto Google’s mobile operating system.
For these new users – and indeed even for some older users as well – apparently finding where downloaded files go is a very real problem.
The worst part is…
It’s not automatically obvious for newer users how to access these downloaded files and in fact, where they go in the file system.
As you can see…
Older users may want to clean up their files and free up storage space on their Android devices but find out that they don’t know where to go to open or delete downloaded files.
Don’t worry! I understand the problem.
So I’ve put together this guide to help point you in the right direction of opening your downloads and accessing them. Check out these 6 methods I’ve listed down for you.
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Where Are My Downloaded Files?
You can find and open downloads on your Android phones in these ways.
Most of the new Android versions, starting from Marshmallow up to the most current (Android 10 and Android 11), have a default “Download” folder. This is your download folder.
What is the difference between download and upload?
When you put webpages and media files onto a web server, it is known as Uploading. For example, posting a selfie on an Instagram story. When you save webpages and media files from a web server to your phone or PC or any other device, it is called Downloading. For example, downloading music from Spotify.
The operating system, and even most apps, are programmed to use this folder as the default download location.
So Android has made it so that virtually all of your downloads will automatically go to the default “Download” folder; it’s just a matter of locating this folder. I’ll point you to 6 ways you can do this.
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1. Find downloads from notifications
If you’ve recently downloaded a file and you don’t know where it went, Android will usually generate a notification of whether your download is still currently downloading or if it has finished doing so.
Once a download is done, Android will notify you – usually at the top part of your screen – that it has indeed finished downloading the file.
Tapping on this notification will either open the file directly with an associated app or open the folder where it is saved.
This is one of the easiest ways to find and open your downloaded files on Android.
2. Find downloads from the File Manager App
Modern smartphones will usually come with a stock file manager app that your manufacturer has installed into the operating system for easy us\e. Not all file manager apps are created equally, of course, but they should let you do at least one thing – that is, access your phone’s file system and look at what files are there.
File manager apps will not be named the same across all phones either, but they will have relatively recognizable names such as “My Files”, “Files”, “Folders”, “My Folders” or even just plain old “File Manager”. The icon will also be recognizable – a file folder or an envelope-shaped icon.
Tap on this app and find the “Downloads” folder. This should be easy to do, as file manager apps tend to display folders alphabetically. Once you’ve located the Downloads folder, tap on it to access the files within.
You will need an associated app to open or access the file you downloaded. For example, a PDF document needs a PDF reader app of some sort installed on your phone. An image will usually trigger your phone’s stock image viewer app or the Gallery app.
Make sure you have the right app to access the file you just downloaded.
3. Use a third party app
If for some reason you can’t locate where your stock file manager app is – if the icon got hidden somehow, or worse, the app got uninstalled – don’t worry, as there are still other ways to find where your downloads are.
You can install a third-party file manager app from the Google Play Store, where you might be overwhelmed at the number of apps you can possibly install when you search for “file manager”. Allow me to make two recommendations.
ES File Explorer
One of the more popular file manager apps is the ES File Explorer. You can download this and then use it as your file manager app. You can now locate your Downloads folder using this app, as it also has a text search function.
That said, the app is free-to-download, so it will show you ads from time to time. That shouldn’t be a big problem. ES File Explorer also has added features that you may or may not want. It is a solid file manager app, and we can recommend it for the task at hand.
FX File Explorer
Another solid file manager app is FX File Explorer, which I can recommend to you with all the good things I’ve seen from it by using it personally. The app is free to use, but it has virtually zero ads, which is always a good thing.
It provides a more feature-rich file manager, something that the more technically savvy will appreciate. For the task at hand, it is more than capable to show you where your downloads are.
4. Find downloads on Chrome
Say that you downloaded an image a few days back, and you may have accidentally deleted it. You can still easily get that image back – or any other download you did on the Chrome browser – for that matter because the Chrome app remembers your downloads.
Open up the Chrome browser app, which most people use as their default smartphone internet browser. Tap on the menu button to the left of the address bar (the three dots button), and then tap on Downloads.
The following menu will show you all your recent downloads, and you can just tap on one to re-download it. There’s also an option to sort the items on this menu by type – that is if the file is a document, an audio file, a video file, or an image.
5. Find downloads using Windows
Nothing like harnessing a more robust (and familiar) operating system to find what you’re looking for.
If connecting your Android device to your Windows computer is easier for you, then you can also use this to find the Downloads folder in Android.
Connect your Android device to your computer using your smartphone’s USB cable. Plug into a USB port on your computer and wait for your computer to accept the connection.
Using the Windows Explorer program, you can navigate to your Android device and locate the “Download” folder. The file you’re looking for should be easily locatable at this point. You can even save the said file on your computer if you want to use it at some other time.
6. Open downloads from Google Drive
Personally, I believe this is the easiest method to find and open downloaded files on Android. If you are already using Google’s suite of apps, you’d definitely be aware of the convenience of using Google Drive.
Not only the downloads, even the files from Google apps like Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.., automatically get saved in the Drive and you can access them on the go.
To open downloads from Google Drive, open the Google Drive app. Locate the ‘Files’ category at the bottom right. Here, you’ll find all your files along with the Downloads. If you remember the name of the file, use the search bar to easily find the downloaded file or scroll through the files and locate it.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I delete my downloaded files on Android?
Once you’ve located the downloads folder using any of the methods I’ve listed for you above, deleting your downloads is a bit easier.
In your file manager app (whichever you may be using) you can press down on the file you want to delete. Options will then appear, including one that will allow you to delete the said file.
Holding down on a specific file will also trigger Android’s multiple selection process. This is helpful if you want to delete multiple files. Just make sure you select all the files you want to delete from the folder and then hit the Delete icon up top.
How do I open downloads on Samsung?
Look for My Files app in the Samsung folder on your Samsung phone. All the files are stored in My Files including the Downloads. If you find difficulty locating the app, use the search bar.
How do I open downloads in Chrome?
In the Chrome app, tap the Kebab menu (three dots) located on the top right corner of the screen. Locate ‘Downloads’ and tap on it. You’ll find all your Chrome downloads under My Files section.
I understand that finding your way around the Android operating system might seem slightly daunting at first. If you’re jumping on to Android from an Apple device, this is totally understandable.
It doesn’t mean that it’s not doable, though. It might seem that your downloads just vanished from your device, especially if you’re the type who swipes through notifications almost absent-mindedly.
These methods are helpful to get you back on track and locate the downloaded files you need to access. Let us know in the comments section which method worked for you.
This morning I got another update to from verizon o.t.a. I have a galaxy S5. The update took about 10 minutes to install. I will say just from 1 day, it appears to be a much needed update. I have no more error messages, my apps are behaving like they used to and nothing has notified me that it has unexpectedly stopped working. Seems very stable so I say thank you to Samsung. My android version still says 5.0 bUT my baseband version has changed to G900VVRU1BOC4. If you have any more info about this upate would love to know what all it is supposed to do. But s9 far call me happy.
How do you read that writing
I will be happy to help you, but what writing do you mean exactly?
I downloaded the recommended app from google play and now it’s back to normal. Can you please explain why the files originally opened, and then would not.
It´s hard to tell without all the details, but it could have been that another app´s update could have caused the problems since updates are known to do that. The important thing is that everything is back to normal, glad to hear that and thanks for commenting. =-)
I’m using Vodafone 685 smart phone. When I download a file on completion it writes “Queed ” failing to open. I’m tired of it what can I do to make them open.
Is it with just one file type or with all of them? =-) Are you trying to open your files with any of the methods in the post?
Please help i can’t open my files on my tablet!or is it because there for my ps3?
if I delete a download e-mail or just an e-mail where they come in on the Motorola phone, will this delete it from the Toshiba computer I use (or vice versa)? My phone is overloaded and I need to get rid of ‘stuff’ but I want to keep it on the regular computer.
What Email provider do you use? Gmail, Yahoo? =-)
Hey! I tapped to open a download and got a message asking me if I wanted to scan downloads for threats. I pressed “always” and now I can’t change the setting because it’s saying “unable to scan” on my downloaded APK. Can you please tell me how to disable that scan setting?
What kind of phone do you have? =-)
Thanks so much. Your post is easy to understand and I’m now off to try to install one of the apps u suggested. I know where my downloaded files are but can never open them. Stupid me didn’t know I needed a certain app to open them. My emails open fine so i never thought id have to have a app for files..U live and learn I guess. Thanks again.. Kaz ?
help!!I can’t open any files in my downloads foler.it say cant open file.do you know what to do.i have a motor e 2 gen Android phone.please explain what I can do.i do t have a file manager.i dont do good with electronics
Which file manager are you using? Some of them can be confusing to use. Also, you might not have an app that allows you to open that type of file on your phone. For example, if you don’t have Microsoft Word or Google Docs or something similar, you won’t be able to open a Word Doc on your phone. So make sure you have the appropriate app to open that kind of file.
Just ran across your site and at first couple of glances it looks like it’s one of the most important sources of android information out here!
Thanks so much for making my life a little bit easier (maybe a lot ).
So glad you’re finding Joy of Android so helpful, Brenda! Is there anything in particular about Android and Android devices that you’re interested in finding out more about?
Sooo… Every tip and trick that you all listed above doesnt work in my case. I have literally tried everything and i dont know what to do.
What’s the problem, Kyra? Are you not seeing the “downloads” folder?
Method 3: File Manager is not always correct, depending on the phone, the Download folder is NOT where Downloads go from Email apps and such. They go to ANDROID/data/com.***.***/files/Download many people will never find their files just looking at the download folder of their storage.
Thanks for the tip, John!
After downloading movie file, i need to use a password to open. It says no action can open file
I selected PDF fill and sign to open a downloaded fillable PDF file. Now all files that I download try to open with this and will not allow,me to select PDF Reader, WORD, or other appropriate app. How can I correct this? Thanks!
Hello, first, Fuck you, secondo, Thank you!
You made me feel like shit with all your with your intro but, I understand how you feel to explain that simple thing.
At least you provide the right answer so, Im happy. The desert made me forget about the appetizer.
So many sentences to call the readers a noob, but at the end, we reading all that with confidence…
I like your style.
Nice work, will follow u
I tried everything I could to try to find the Downloads folder on my Pixel 3. Then I installed FX File Explorer and it works like a charm. Thank you!
I’m glad to hear it worked out for you
Would appreciate help. I am in early stages of dementia and have a Samsung 5 phone.
I have received 2 messages from relatives, including a download file, but I am getting a message “Currently unable to download. Please try again later”…
Hopefully you may be able to assist.
All the best
Hi James! I hope you’re doing okay. In cases like this, the file can be corrupted or your phone does not support the file type.
Great info. It helped a lot. Many thanks!