How to Connect Your Fire Phone to a PC or Mac

By Dan Gookin

You can use cloud storage to wirelessly swap files between your phone and a computer. However, the wired way is to plug the Fire phone directly into a computer by using a USB cable. Coincidentally, a USB cable comes with the phone. Despite this coincidence, more is involved with the phone-and-computer connection than merely plugging in the cable.

Configuring the USB connection

The physical phone-computer connection involves using a USB cable. Specifically, it’s a USB cable with an A adapter on one end and a Micro USB adapter on the other.

It doesn’t matter! They both plug into only one device, so if the plug doesn’t fit, try the other end of the cable. The connectors are shaped differently and cannot be attached incorrectly.

Your Fire phone presents itself to a computer in one of two ways:

  • As a file storage device, such as a thumb drive or memory card

  • As a digital camera, which is well-suited for transferring pictures and movies

The file storage device option is usually the best choice, although you can switch between these settings by following these steps on the Fire phone:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Choose Battery & Storage to expand that area.

  3. Choose the item Change USB Connection Type.

  4. Choose either File Transfer or Photo Transfer.

    The File Transfer option is the preset option.

When connected under the File Transfer option, the computer treats the phone as any external storage device. When Photo Transfer is chosen, the computer recognizes the phone as a digital camera, and it may start a photo importing app, which is handy if you just want to transfer pictures and movies to your computer.

Connecting to a PC

The PC connection is pretty straightforward for your Fire phone. The key is to look for the AutoPlay dialog box for Windows 8 and for earlier, more popular versions of Windows.

Choose the option Open Device to View Files. A folder window opens, showing the Fire phone’s internal storage. Open that item to browse folders on your phone — if that’s what you want to do.

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Another option to choose is Sync Digital Media Files to This Device, which opens the Windows Media Player program. You can use this program to transfer pictures, movies, and music between the PC and your phone.

Though you can copy Windows Media Audio (WMA) music files to the Fire phone, the Music app won’t play them.

Connecting to a Mac

You need special software to manage files on your Fire phone by using a Macintosh. That’s because the Mac prefers to recognize other phones, those that might rhyme with the words pie phone. Weird, huh?

To work with files on a Fire phone when you have a Macintosh, you need to obtain special software: the Android File Transfer program. Yes, the Fire phone pretends that it’s not an Android phone, but secretly, deep down inside, it is.

On your Mac, download that program from the Android website.

Install the software. Run it. From that point on, when you connect your Android Fire phone to the Macintosh, a special window appears. It lists the phone’s folders and files. Use that window for file management.

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Disconnecting the phone from the computer

The process of disconnecting your phone from the computer is cinchy: When you’ve finished transferring files, music, or other media between a computer and the phone, close all open programs and folders on your computer — specifically, those you’ve used to work with the phone’s storage. Then you can disconnect the USB cable. That’s it.

It’s a bad idea to unplug the phone while you’re transferring information or while a folder window is open on your computer. Doing so can damage the phone’s storage, rendering unreadable some of the information that’s kept there. To be safe, close the programs and folder windows you’ve opened before disconnecting.

Unlike other external storage on the Macintosh, there’s no need to eject the phone’s storage when you’re done accessing it. Simply disconnect the phone. The Mac doesn’t get angry when you do so.