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How to Connect Your Android Tablet to a Computer through USB

The most direct way to connect an Android tablet to a computer is by using a wire — specifically, the wire nestled at the core of a USB cable. You can do lots of things after making the USB connection, but everything starts with connecting the cable.

Connecting the tablet to a computer

The USB cable that comes with your Android tablet can be used to physically connect both the tablet and a computer. It’s cinchy, thanks to three-dimensional physics and the following two important pieces of advice:

  • One end of the USB cable plugs into the computer.

  • The other end plugs into the Android tablet.

The connectors on either end of the USB cable are shaped differently and cannot be plugged in incorrectly. If one end of the cable doesn’t fit, try the other end. If it still doesn’t fit, try plugging it in another way.

  • After the USB connection has been made successfully, the USB notification appears, similar to the one shown in the margin. Don’t freak if you don’t see it; not every tablet displays this notification.

  • The tablet-computer connection works best with a powered USB port. If possible, plug the USB cable into the computer itself or into a powered USB hub.

  • Tablets with a USB 3.0 jack come with a USB 3.0 cable. You can still use the old-style, USB 2.0 micro-USB cables on such devices: Simply plug the micro-USB connector into the right side of the USB 3.0 jack on the bottom of the tablet.

  • For data transfer to take place at top speeds over the USB 3.0 cable, you must connect the tablet’s USB 3.0 cable into the USB 3.0 port on a computer. These ports are color-coded blue.

  • The standard Android tablet USB cable is known as a USB-A-male-to-micro–USB cable. You can obtain this cable at any computer- or office-supply store.

  • A flurry of activity takes place when you first connect an Android tablet to a Windows PC. Notifications pop up about new software that’s installed. Don’t fret if you see a message about software not being found. That’s okay. If see the AutoPlay dialog box prompting you to install software, do so.

Configuring the USB connection

The USB connection is configured automatically whenever you connect your Android tablet to a computer. Everything should work peachy. When it doesn’t, you can try manually configuring the USB connection: Swipe down the notifications panel and choose the USB notification.

The USB Computer Connection screen lists two options for configuring the USB connection:

  • Media Device (MTP): When that setting is chosen, the computer believes the tablet to be a portable media player, which it is, kinda. This option is the most common one.

  • Camera (PTP): In this setting, the computer is misled into thinking that the tablet is a digital camera. Select this option only when the MTP option fails to make the connection or when you desire to transfer images and video when using a media organization program on the computer.

    If you can’t get the USB connection to work, check to see whether the tablet features a proprietary synchronization program, such as Samsung’s Kies utility.

    No matter which USB connection option you’ve chosen, the tablet’s battery charges whenever it’s connected to a computer’s USB port — as long as the computer is turned on, of course.

    If your Android tablet has a MicroSD card, its storage is also mounted to the computer, as well as to the tablet’s internal storage. You do not need to configure that storage separately to make the USB connection.

    PTP stands for Picture Transfer Protocol. MTP stands for Media Transfer Protocol.

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