Well, I’ll be: We’re currently on the cusp of 20-frickin’-23, somehow. And yet, moving info from your phone to your computer still creates a confoundingly complex conundrum for most of us mere mortals.
To be fair, we’ve come a long way in the 14 years since Android’s arrival on this humble ol’ earth of ours. But when you want to transport some text from your Android device to your Windows or Mac computer — or, Goog forbid, beam a non-photo file from your phone to a computer whose operating system doesn’t rhyme with SchlomeOS — goodness gracious, it sure ain’t easy.
“But wait, Mr. Android Yammering Man!” you might be thinking. “I could’ve sworn I’d read that Google had some sort of fancy-schmancy Nearby Share system that was supposed to fix this once and for all!”
You’re absolutely right, you observant little orangutan. As of now, though, Google’s Nearby Share system works only between multiple Android devices in the same area or between Android devices and Chromebooks that are in close proximity.
That means you’re completely out of luck if you’re using Android with any other computing platform — like lots of productivity-minded mammals do — or if you want to send info from your Android device to a computer that isn’t right in front of you. And while a Windows version of Nearby Share is supposedly in the works, we’ve been hearing about it for nearly a year now. And we’ve yet to see any sign of its arrival.
Not to fear, though — for where there’s a will, there’s a way. And with a few easy-to-manage tricks up your virtual sleeve, you can make virtually any manner of Android-to-computer sharing happen this very second, with virtually no work.
Allow me to enlighten you.
Android sharing trick No. 1: The web page teleport
We’ll start with the simplest sort of sharing of all but one that comes up an awful lot, at least in my day-to-day experience — the basic beaming of a web page from your phone to computer (or vice-versa).
I don’t know about you, but I constantly find myself needing to pull up a page I’d been viewing on my phone on my Windows desktop, at work — or, on the flip side, wanting to send a page from my computer to my phone for on-the-go digestion.
This one’s as easy as can be to address, once you know where to look. And you’ve got a couple o’ commendable options.
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First, remember: You can always see a list of tabs open on other devices by looking in Chrome’s History section on your phone or on your computer. So long as you’re signed into the same Google account in both places, you’ll be able to find and pull up any page you left open elsewhere right then and there — which is incredibly useful when you realize you need to get to something from another device after that device is no longer in front of you:
- On the desktop front, just hit Ctrl-H and then click the “Tabs from other devices” option in the left-of-screen sidebar to get there.
- On your phone, tap Chrome’s three-dot menu icon and select “Recent tabs” to pull up the same place.
Beyond that, if you’re still looking at the device where the page resides, you can tap into an even more proactive system for pushing the page onto any other device and making it pop up there for especially easy access:
- On your computer, click the little icon with a curved arrow at the right of the address bar — or right-click on the title of the actual tab itself — and select “Send to your devices.” You’ll then be presented with a list of other devices (Android devices or even other computers) where you’re actively signed in.
- On Android, tap the three-dot menu icon within Chrome, then select “Share” and look for the “Send to your devices” option in the panel that pops up.
Good to know, right? And we’re just getting started…
Android sharing trick No. 2: The text transplant
Next up: What about when you’ve got some text you want to move from one device to another? Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could simply copy something on your computer and then paste it on your Android device a second later — or select and copy text on your phone and then paste it into an app on your desktop?
Weirdly enough, Google actually had an effective way to do that under development in Chrome for ages. But the system never officially launched, and the out-of-sight settings for enabling it evaporated at some point along the way.
A couple of exceptional third-party tools are ready to fill the void, though. And once you set ’em up once, you’ll never have to think about ’em again.
If you’re using Windows on the computer front and you don’t mind ditching Gboard on Android, the simplest path is to rely on Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard for automatic Android-to-Windows clipboard syncing. You’ve gotta go out of your way to dig it up and set it up initially, but it’ll work brilliantly for you from that point forward without any more active effort.
If you aren’t using Windows or would rather not use SwiftKey, a spectacularly useful app called Clipt can play the same role. It’s an experimental creation by the company behind OnePlus phones, and it works impressively well. The only catch is that it adds one extra step into the process, as the Android-to-desktop part of the clipboard syncing process doesn’t happen automatically; instead, it’s up to you to tap a button in your device’s Quick Settings area every time you want to send some copied text over to your computer.
It’s easy to do, though, and it’s a powerful new efficiency-enhancer you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.
Android sharing trick No. 3: The file phaser
Last but not least is the prickly subject of files — PDFs, APKs, or any other sorts of alphabet-soup attachments you want to effortlessly move from one device to another.
Once again, Google’s Nearby Share system is spectacular for handling that type of task, but it’s available only if you’re using some combination of Android devices and Chromebooks and only when those devices are in the same location. Once you bring Windows, Mac, or any other platforms into the mix — or you think about devices that aren’t in the same physical spot — you’re out of luck.
Or so it’d seem.
My friend, allow me to introduce you to ShareDrop. It’s a browser-based, open-source tool that makes it laughably easy to beam files between any two devices, no matter what type of product they may be or what operating system they’re running. And while Clipt can handle file sharing for you, too, ShareDrop will let you send files between any two devices — including those whose names start with overly pretentious lowercase letters — without the need for any sort of setup or app installations.
If the devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, the process couldn’t be simpler:
- Just open the ShareDrop site in the browser on both of the involved devices.
- Each device will be assigned a random and unique name and avatar.
- You can then click on any avatar to send a file to the associated device — or just drag and drop a file directly onto it, on the desktop front, for an even faster way to get a transfer going.
- Once the other device accepts the transfer, the file will be sent. That’s it!
If you need to send something between two devices on different networks or even in different locations, you can hit the plus icon in the site’s upper-right corner to create a special link for establishing such a connection.
Either way, anything you transfer is sent securely over an encrypted peer-to-peer connection — meaning ShareDrop itself is never privy to anything you’re sending, and the data is never stored on any remote server.
And since the whole thing is open source, you can even poke through the code yourself to confirm it’s working exactly as expected.
ShareDrop is free to use, though its developer does accept donations to help cover the cost of keeping the service up and running.
And there ya have it: three top-notch tricks for smarter sharing on Android. Keep these tactics in mind and at reach, and you’ll never struggle with sending stuff from one device to another again.
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