Access Samsung Galaxy S4 storage and SD card directly

  • Han

    I bought a Samsung Galaxy S4 a while ago. One annoying difference compared to my previous Android device that I've noticed on S4 is that I cannot access the internal storage and SD card directly by plugging the phone into the USB port of my computer (I use a Macbook Pro with OS X 10.6). It seems that I need a Mac app called Kies developed by Samsung to access the storage and SD card on my Galaxy, which is very inconvenient.

    May I know if there is any way that I can access the storage and SD card on my Galaxy S4 directly, as if from a USB flash drive? I was able to do this with my previous Android device. Thank you!

  • Answers
  • geffchang

    I found this potential solution. It says to download SG USB Mass Storage Enabler to enable this mode.

  • Han

    The closest solution I have found for Mac OS X is to install Android File Transfer ( on the computer. With this, I am able to access files on the internal storage and the SD card directly within an Android File Transfer window, and perform basic file management operations like copying and deleting. This app also supports some keyboard shortcuts as well as drag-and-drop to and from Finder. It isn't as convenient as Finder itself but it is the closest available substitute I have found for this device.

  • Mr. Buster

    I've been trying to figure this out for a while now and I stumbled on to your question. I tried turning off the debugging option and it didn't work, but when I plugged my phone back in I noticed it flashed that it was connected as a camera. So I pulled down the status bar from the top of the screen (sorry, can't remember what it's called) and saw that it said I was connected and to press for other usb options. I pressed it and was able to switch modes so now I'm in the mass storage mode. Hope that helps, I feel kind of dumb having it be such an easy fix that I have missed for the last 2 weeks.

  • geffchang

    It is pretty easy from Kies. I recommend doing so through Kies itself.

    Just connect the s4. On the first window, click the round shape with the folder image on it. Then, drag any file you want to transfer to it.

  • Izzy

    What you are asking for is called UMS or USB Mass Storage. On newer devices, this often got replaced by MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) for several good reasons. Both protocols have their pros and cons. Unfortunately, in most cases the user is not given the choice which one to use (some devices offer this).

    However, an article at explains How to connect Android devices to PC with USB Mass Storage Mode for different Android versions and devices, including your S4. I will list a basic exceprt here with no warranties: I have no S4, so I cannot verify this.

    1. Go to Settings→About Phone/Tablet.
    2. Go to “Build Number” at the end of the Scroll list.
    3. Tap on “Build Number” repeatedly (7 times). On your third tap you should see message indicating that you only have 4 more taps to go to ‘become a developer’. Keep tapping until you are a developer. (a toast message will tell you so)
    4. Now Developer Option will be included in setting list of yours now. Go to “Develop Options” to check USB debugging > OK. Done.

    According to the article, that should have done the trick. I do not see how the two are connected, and doubt it a little. As an alternative, the very same article mentions a USB Mass Storage APK you could try as well.

    For devices running Android 4.0/4.1, the steps are a little different, and sound convincing to me:

    1. Go to Settings→More
    2. Search then Tap on “USB utilities”
    3. Check the option: “Connect Storage to PC”

    Unfortunately, my Optimus 4X running 4.0.3 doesn't show that option -- so again, I cannot guarantee this will work on any device.

    A different approach is presented at this website -- again, explicitly for the S4:

    1. Attach your Samsung Galaxy S4 to your computer (PC or Mac) using the USB cable. If this is the first time you’ve connected your device to your computer, it will install the necessary drivers on your computer.
    2. On your Samsung device, touch Applications > Settings > Wireless and network > USB utilities.
    3. Remove the USB cable from you Samsung S4.
    4. On your Galaxy S4 touch “Connect storage to PC.” You will see a warning: “USB utilities / Connect USB cable to use mass storage.” Insert the USB cable into your Samsung device while the message is still on the screen. Do not touch “Cancel.”
    5. The screen will change to “USB mass storage” with a picture of a green Android and a message that says “USB connected.” Touch “Connect USB storage” at the bottom.
    6. Your Samsung Galaxy S4 is now connected to your computer. The device’s internal storage will appear on your computer as an external drive. If you also have a microSD card installed, this will show up as a second external drive.

    Plenty other web ressources I've found on my search simply state: that's not possible without rooting. But it cannot hurt trying above methods: they might fail, but should not break anything.

  • Related Question

    What's the difference between "sd card" and "usb storage"?
  • Oak

    Under Settings -> Storage, I see entries for both "SD card" and "USB storage". What's the difference? What should I be using each of those for?

    In addition, how can I control what data goes where? since so far, everything I've copied into my mobile (via USB cable and via Kies Air) seems to go to the "USB storage", as the "SD card" is almost completely empty of data.

    Finally, where can I find the base folder of each of these, using a file explorer?

  • Related Answers
  • GAThrawn

    Have just noticed this too on my (original) Galaxy S since it got the Gingerbread update, presume that this is something that Samsung have changed in their Gingerbread build, as the S2 comes with Gingerbread from the factory.

    On the Galaxy S (and I presume it will be the same on the S2) they have a built-in storage (either 8GB or 16GB in the original S) that looks like an SD card to the OS, but is actually built into the phone, there is also a Micro-SD card slot, that can take normal micro-SD cards. Previously these showed in the phone as "Internal SD Card" and "External SD Card", since Gingerbread they're now shoing as "SD Card" and "USB Storage".

    It looks like "USB Storage" is the built-in storage space (8GB on my phone), whereas "SD Card" is the separate SD card that plugs into the slot by the battery and you can plug the card in yourself (I've got a 32GB card in mine).

    Most apps don't know that there's two separate storage spaces, as this is a Samsung thing, not an Android thing. Media files copied into either location will be picked up OK by the media scanner, so you can put your music, etc where you want without any worries. Some apps, like the Camera app, have been modified by Samsung to know about the multiple storage locations and will let you save to either (configurable in the settings) others don't, and will only save to the "USB Storage" space.

    I haven't had a chance to play with Kies Air since Gingerbread, so can't help you there (but I will try to over the weekend and update). But for File Manager apps you should be able to see the folder /mnt/sdcard which is the "USB Storage" and looking down that you should see a folder called external_sd which, if you open it is your micro-SD card. For any apps that let you pick where to save files, saving to this location will ensure its on the actual SD card.

  • aeropic

    On galaxy s3, sdcard refers to internal storage, ext sdcard to an sd card to be plugged into the micro SD slot. USB storage refers to an USB stick that would be connected to the USB port using a dedicated USB otg cable.

  • oooolivier

    Nope! USB storage is a partition of the phone internal memory. Seems it was done to separate the OS and its data from other type of data.