Windows 11’s File Explorer could hook up directly with your smartphone to make file transfers from Android easier than ever

Happy woman using a laptop in her home
(Image credit: Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock)

Microsoft has been hard at work further integrating Android devices into Windows 11, recently allowing users to draft in their phones as makeshift webcams. Riding the same wave of inter-device connectivity, a new feature is apparently in the works that will allow you to see and use your smartphone directly in Windows 11’s File Explorer - just like it was an external drive. 

According to reputable leaker @PhantomOfEarth on X, the groundwork is present in Windows 11 for the ‘Cross Device Experience Host’ to be able to link File Explorer on the desktop to your smartphone. This will allow File Explorer direct access to the files on your smartphone, or the ability to shift files the other way, from your PC to phone.

If you cast your mind back to the beginning of the year, you may remember that the Cross Device Experience Host is replacing the Phone Link feature, so if you’re wondering why this may sound like more of a Phone Link feature, there’s your answer.

Once you turn on the feature - note that it’s still hidden in test versions of Windows 11 - @PhantomOfEarth observes that you’ll be asked to grant file access permissions, after which you’ll be good to go.

Exciting times

Sadly, there isn’t anything else revealed about the feature, and we don’t even know the basics of how it’ll actually work. We’re assuming it’ll use Wi-Fi, maybe, to connect your phone and PC, so that your smartphone is always there in File Explorer whenever you sit at your computer with it (with both on the same Wi-Fi network). That’s pure speculation, mind.

We expect to see this functionality make an appearance in the Windows Insider Program, where devs and enthusiasts test out potential new features in preview builds of Windows 11. Until we have official word from Microsoft to confirm the feature is happening, though, we won’t know for sure - so don’t get your hopes up too high. 

That being said, it’s still a pretty cool ability to look forward to!  Not only could you move documents, photos, or other files between your PC and phone a lot more quickly and conveniently, but as noted, it seems like once you’ve set permissions your device should automatically register in File Explorer.

This is definitely a feature I would have enjoyed when I was a student and had to search and scramble between my phone and my laptop to make sure I had all the relevant research in one organized place. While I won’t allow myself to get too excited yet, I will wait patiently and hope to see the feature on my PC before too long. 

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison. Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place. Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).