Wireless File Transfer between Android and Ubuntu

If you’re someone who finds file transfers with the USB cable inconvenient or just old school, then you’re at the right place. We’re gonna show you how you can quickly setup file transfers wirelessly between any android device and Ubuntu (Tested with Ubuntu 16.04, 18.04, 20.04) Should work for future versions too.

There are multiple ways to perform wireless transfer and we’re going to look at the easiest ones.

1. KDE Connect

KDE Connect is a free, Open Source software that works very well with Ubuntu. Additionally, it also supports Windows and MAC.

A. Install KDE Connect

To get started, you need to install the KDE Connect App on your Android device as well as the KDE Connect from Ubuntu Software or you could do it directly from your terminal too by the running the following:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install kdeconnect indicator-kdeconnect

Note: Before launching any of these applications, ensure that your computer and your phone are on the same wireless network (preferably on a 5Ghz bandwidth connection if you want faster transfer speeds, but even a usual 2.4 Ghz connection should do great).

B. Pair your Device

You can initiate device pairing either from your computer or from your phone.
To initiate it from your computer,

    • Launch “KDE Connect settings” from the Dash

KdeConnect - dash

    • When the window opens, you should see your phone listed. (Mine shows up as LM-G710). Select your phone from the left tab and then click on “Request pair” on the top-right side as seen below –

KdeConnect - Settings

    • This should send a notification to your phone to request you to accept the pairing (which you should accept).

.
KdeConnect - Accept Pairing

That should be it. A similar process can be done via your phone where you could request pairing from your phone and then accept the request on your computer. It works both ways.

C. Update Settings

Once pairing is done, you should now configure settings. There are many things you can do besides transferring files, like sending/receiving sms’s, controlling your multimedia, seeing your phone’s battery level and so on which can enabled and configured to suit your needs.

For example, to set the default download directory on the computer, checkout the line for “Share and Receive“, you will see a blank button on the right. If you click on it, a pop-up will be displayed allowing you to set the default download directory.
KdeConnect - File Transfer Settings

The default directory is where the files sent/transferred from your phone will be stored. Similarly you can configure other settings which you plan to use.

D. Setup File Transfer

To enable File Transfer, you need to expose the folder which should be visible on your computer. To do so, launch the KDE connect App on your phone. If you click the 3 dots at the top-right corner, you should see an option to open “plugin settings“. Open the plugin settings and ensure that Filesystem expose is enabled/checked.

After that, click on “Filesystem Expose” to see its settings. Here, you should be able to “Add Storage Location“. Go ahead and select a folder on your phone that should be shared with your computer. In my case, I have exposed my entire SD card (as well a folder named “Series“). Once you expose a folder, you should see it in the list of Configured storage locations as shown below.

KdeConnect - Plugin Settings
KdeConnect - Plugin Settings List

 

KdeConnect - Filesystem Expose Settings


Now to see the exposed folders on your computer, open the KDE indicator from the top bar and then click on “Browse Device“.

KDEConnect Indicator Ubuntu

This should open up the File Browser on Ubuntu with the exposed location. You can now copy new files from your computer to your phone or vice-versa simply by copy-pasting/drag-dropping.

KDE Connect File Explorer


TIPS:

  • The KDE Connect App on android adds a persistent notification which (at least for me) is quite annoying. You can disable it from within the App’s Settings
    KDE connect - disable persistent notification
  • You can add the KDE Connect Indicator to your startup items so that your phone gets automatically connected each time it is in the same network as your computer.

To add KDE Connect Indicator to your startup items, search for “Startup Applications” in your DASH and launch it.
KDE connect - startup
Then click on “Add” button on the right and point it to the KDE Connect Indicator executable as shown below:
kdeConnect- add to startup items

That’s it. Have fun using KDE Connect 🙂 Alternatively, you can use an open-source GNOME Shell extension called ‘GSConnect‘ which is a javascript port of KDE Connect. If that’s what you want, feel free to checkout its tutorial in the references section.


2. AirDroid

Another way to perform wireless file transfer between android and Ubuntu is to use the application AirDroid. Airdroid needs only one of the following prerequisites to be able to perform file transfers.

  • A common network. (Your phone and your computer needs to be on the same network)
  • A hotspot (Your phone creates a hotspot and your computer joins it to ensure both are on the same network)
  • Over the internet (This requires an Airdroid account)

A. Install Airdroid

Download and install the Android Application Airdroid from google Play store. Launch the App. On first launch, it may ask you to sign in or sign up, you can skip this by clicking on “skip” found on the top-right corner. Then grant the application permissions to access your media so you can perform file based operations.

B. File Transfer with Airdroid

You will be presented with a screen as shown below which is under the “My Devices” tab. If your phone and your computer are on the same network, then you should see the option “Android Web“. Click on it.  Doing so will lead you to another screen which shows you an IP address to point to.

Airdroid Web connect

 

 

airdroid Accept Request

Open up your browser on your computer and type out the IP address seen in the previous screen (In my case it was http://192.168.1.45:8888) and hit enter. This will send a notification to your phone asking you for permission. Naturally, accept the same.

Upon accepting, you will see a screen similar to the one shown below granting you access to your phone. Here, you can do many other interesting things besides transferring files. Feel free to explore 😉

 


Airdroid - Web interface

Click on the “Files” icon. A file manager as seen above is launched that allows you to upload files/folders or even download them.  That’s it!

NOTE: Since you’re running Airdroid for the first time, you may not see the contents of your SD Card right away. This is because you haven’t allowed the application to access media on your SD card as yet. To grant access, click on the “Tools” Tab on the bottom  and then on “Files”. A new screen will be displayed that has an icon “SD Card” as shown below. If you click on it, your phone will prompt you for granting access, (which you should) thereby allowing you to manage SD card files/folders from the web interface.

Airdroid sdcard

 

Hope that helps!


References