How to Connect Your Android Phone to a Computer

By Dan Gookin

Communication between your computer and your Android phone works fastest when both devices are physically connected. This connection happens by using the USB cable. As with nearly every computer cable in the Third Dimension, the USB cable has two ends:

  • The A end of the USB cable plugs into the computer.

  • The other end of the cable plugs into the phone.

The connectors are shaped differently and cannot be plugged in either backward or upside down.

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

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  • The phone-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.

  • If you don’t have a USB cable for your phone, go to any computer- or office-supply store. Get a USB-A-male-to-micro-USB cable.

  • USB 3.0 cables can also be used to charge Android phones, but only when the phone features a USB 3.0 connector. If so, using a USB 3.0 cable allows for faster data transfer, providing you connect the cable to a USB 3.0 port on the computer. (The ports are colored blue.)

  • You don’t have to use a USB 3.0 cable with an Android phone. The micro-USB cables can still be attached, although data transfer doesn’t take place at top speed.

  • A flurry of activity takes place when you first connect an Android phone 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 you see an AutoPlay dialog box prompting you to install software, do so.