I'm trying to upload a simple PDF file to my Droid X Android 2.3 phone. I connected the cable and uploaded the file but I don't know which folder to put the file into. Android's PDF applications aren't helping at all and they all seem to look for files in SD. How do I access SD contents from Windows? How do I know if I have an SD card in my phone?


Most Android file managers and dialogs start you off in the SD card; if for some reason yours isn't, it's located at /sdcard . This is also the directory that is mounted when you hook up your phone to Windows via USB.

Just to make sure here, you aren't trying to access the PDFs while the phone is still mounted in Windows? You won't be able to, if that's the case.

If you want to look around more on your phone to find out where the PDFs are, you need to use a file manager on your phone. Most phones come with one preinstalled, simply called "Files" in the app drawer. Usually they open directly to the SD card directory (which is /sdcard in the root file structure).

If you don't have a file browser already installed, try ES File Explorer from the market, it's quite good and has boatloads of features. It also starts off browsing in the sdcard by default, and if you have root you can explore the entire file system, not just /sdcard . It also has a "Search" function which may help you find your PDF files by filename.


First make sure USB debugging is turned off in your phone settings. Also make sure you have all the latest drivers on your computer. When you do this your phone should show up in your Windows "Computer" folder (or My Computer in XP).

You can tell if you have an SD card by going to Applications-->Settings and their should be an option labeled "SD card and phone storage". If you click on this option it will bring you to a new menu where you can mount and unmount your SD card.

  • Moving a pdf to your sd card should be as simple as copying and pasting it from a folder on your PC to your SD Card folder when your phone is plugged in. – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Jan 13 '12 at 16:54

I basically do all my file transfers(copy paste fashion like you mentioned) using FTP client like FileZilla on my PC and an app called Software Data Cable for my android device. That way I can see all the contents of my phone like how they would appear when viewed through the File Manager on the phone. Hence this makes the destination for storing and accessing content much simpler. And the plus point is that you don't need any cables. An active internet connection is required tho. Hope this helps.


Brian - I had this problem too. The folders you can are the SD card's folders. You just have to make sure your tablet is not plugged into the USB in order to also view the SD card's folders on your tablet. Otherwise your tablet will say that the SD card is empty.

  • This answer is somewhat vague. Do you mean Be sure to have done the remove drive action on Windows and disconnect storage from PC action on Android before trying to access the newly copied pdf file from Android? – ce4 Dec 29 '12 at 20:31

The ADB way

The contents of the physical/emulated SDCARD, or the entire file system for rooted devices, can be accessed via the Android Debug Bridge (ADB). See this for a quick guide to get started with adb.

Once adb is installed and properly configured, files and folders can be pulled and pushed to/from the device using the corresponding adb command (assuming you have a folder named Books on your sdcard):

## push single file to android
adb push myfile.pdf /sdcard/Books/

## push entire folder to android
## NOTE: this will push recursively the *contents* of the
##       MyBooksFolder to /sdcard/Books 
adb push MyBooksFolder /sdcard/Books

## pull file from android
adb pull /sdcard/Books/myfile.pdf

There seems to be a GUI for ADB (for windows only): ADBGUIV3

ADB can also be used over wifi. Some rooted roms include the Wireless ADB toggle in the quick settings. For stock ROMs the same can be achieved via third-party wifi adb apps.

The FTP client/server way

This is my preferred way whenever I need to copy multiple files without having to deal with cables. This works for transferring between:

  • android <-> desktop
  • android <-> android
  • android <-> non-android devices

The idea is to have an FTP server running on one end, and an FTP client on the other. Any combination is possible since both clients and servers are available for android and most desktop systems. There are plenty of android FTP servers to choose from, many of them free.

For the server part my preferred choices are File Expert (includes both FTP and HTTP servers, a Windows file share client, as well as FTP/SFTP clients, free), and Solid Explorer (includes FTP/HTTP servers, FTP/SFTP/Webdav and Windows file share clients, free 14 days trial).

For an FTP client I tend to use Total Commander with the FTP plugin.

Your desktop is already capable to work as an FTP client. For example, on Windows you can simply type ftp://my.android.ip.address/ into the Windows Explorer address bar (the actualy IP address will be displayed in the FTP server app when you start it). Same holds true for OSX or Linux.

Other options

There is a free WiFi/WLAN Plugin for Total Commander which can be used to share files with other mobile devices or a desktop. The plugin supports direct connections via HTTP over WiFi between two Android devices, or between Android (Server) and any device or computer with a Web browser or WebDAV client.

File Expert also includes an HTTP server mode which allows exchanging files to any device that has a web browser.

A variation of the FTP theme might be SFTP which comes in handy if you already have an SSH server running on your desktop. For example, on OSX the built-in SSH server can be activated by enabling the checkbox under System Preferences > Sharing > File Sharing.

LAN plugin for Total Commander allows accessing Windows shared folders, which means you can use it with Windows, as well as OSX and Linux with the samba server running.

If you have Python installed on your desktop, then you can share files to your phone by starting a one-liner HTTP web server, i.e.:

# for Python 2.x
python -m SimpleHTTPServer

# for Python 3.x
python -m http.server

Once the server is started, use any browser on your phone/tablet to browse and download the files. The URL you need to open in your browser will be the IP address of your desktop at the default port 8000 (which can be changed by adding a different port number at the end of the command). Once you have figured out your internal IP (e.g. the URL will look like

And finally, just for the sake of completeness, I should mention that cloud storage services like dropbox and mega make it easy to share files between any devices, and if you want the simplest possible solution, then you can just email a file to yourself, and open it on the device where you need it.


Install Adobe Reader from the market. Once the app and it will automatically scan your SD card and list all the files in the SD Card.

This is a free app too.

Mounting Android to Windows using USB

  • My question was "how do I access the SD from Windows". I've already installed Acrobat Reader but it doesn't see any file, nor it does allow you to upload pdf files to Android/SD, which became quickly useless. – Brian Hawk Nov 12 '11 at 20:05
  • U need to mount your device to Windows.. Edited the answer – Harsha M V Nov 12 '11 at 20:10
  • I do mount the device to Windows. And I see the contents as Removable Device. But the contents are not SD's contents. How do I access SD's contents? Which folder keeps the SD root? – Brian Hawk Nov 12 '11 at 22:35
  • guess ur sd card is formated... does it have imp stuff in them ? if not go to settings and storage and format your sd card. and try it again – Harsha M V Nov 12 '11 at 22:56
  • I don't know what you mean by imp stuff. But I've found out that I have an SD card (14.74GB total) and that it is mounted in the device. But still have no idea how to see its contents – Brian Hawk Nov 13 '11 at 15:35

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