Basics of the USB Connection for Your Samsung Galaxy Tablet

By Dan Gookin

The most direct way to connect a Samsung Galaxy tablet to a computer is by using a wire — specifically, the wire nestled cozily in the heart of a USB cable. You can do lots of things after making the USB connection. Before doing those things, however, you need to connect the cable.

How to connect the Samsung Galaxy tablet to a computer

The USB connection between the Galaxy tablet and your computer works fastest when both devices are physically connected. You make this connection happen by using the USB cable that comes with the tablet. Like nearly every computer cable in the Third Dimension, the USB cable has two ends:

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

  • The other end of the cable plugs into the bottom of the tablet.

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

After you understand how the cable works, plug the USB cable into one of the computer’s USB ports. Then plug the USB cable into the Galaxy tablet.

  • By connecting the tablet to your PC, you are adding, or mounting, its storage to your computer’s storage system. The tablet’s internal storage appears under the name Tablet. If a microSD card is installed, its storage shows up as Card. This mounting process allows file transfers to take place.

  • Even if you don’t use the USB cable to communicate with the computer, the tablet’s battery charges when it’s connected to a computer’s USB port — as long as the computer is turned on, of course.

How to Configure the USB connection on your Samsung Galaxy tablet

A Windows computer utterly refuses to recognize your Galaxy tablet as a tablet. In fact, the concept confuses Microsoft. Therefore, when you connect your tablet to a PC, it assumes that the device is either some type of external storage or a digital camera. Sad but true.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter how the PC looks at your Galaxy Note or Galaxy Tab. Either way, you can still move files back and forth and sync information. The better option is external storage, which is what the tablet does automatically.

  • The external storage option is MTP, which stands for Media Transfer Protocol.

  • The digital camera option is PTP, which stands for Picture Transfer Protocol.

To set one option or the other, follow these steps after connecting your tablet to the computer:

  1. Choose the USB notification.

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  2. Select either Media Device (MTP) or Camera (PTP).

    Making the selection instantly reconfigures the tablet. You don’t need to disconnect the tablet from the computer.

The USB notification appears when the tablet is connected to a computer. That’s the only time you can configure the USB connection.

These steps apply also when you attach your tablet to a Macintosh. Even so, the Mac recognizes the tablet only when it’s configured as an MTP device.

How to disconnect the Samsung Galaxy tablet from a computer

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

It’s a Bad Idea to unplug the tablet while you’re transferring information or while a folder window is open on the computer. Doing so could damage the tablet’s internal storage, rendering some of the information kept there unreadable. So just to be safe, before disconnecting, close those programs and folder windows you’ve opened.

Unlike other external storage on the Macintosh, there’s no need to eject the tablet’s storage when you’re done accessing it. Quit the Android File Transfer program on the Mac, and then unplug the tablet. The Mac won’t get angry.