Why Won’t Windows Recognize My Android Phone?
You have Android. Check. You have a computer. Check, check. You want to connect your Android to your computer in order to copy files from it (or add files to it, like all those ringtones that you’ve spent hours developing). Check three times. You plug your phone into a USB port on your desktop or laptop and … nothing happens.
Welcome to a little corner of tech hell, Lifehacker reader Stu, who he describes in an interview with Tech 911 this week:
For years, I have been transferring files between my Samsung S7 phone and computer using a USB cable and everything worked fine. Then a few weeks ago I found that Windows 10 Explorer no longer recognized my phone. It is recognized in Device Manager and works great on my Windows 10 laptop. I talked on the phone for hours with Samsung and Microsoft but couldn’t find a solution. Here’s what I’ve tried without success:
- Removing and reinstalling phone drivers.
- Using several different USB cables
- Using different USB ports
- Updating the entire Win 10 operating system
- Make sure USB debugging is enabled on your phone
- Make sure the phone is in MTP mode
I may have forgotten some of them, but if you have any thoughts, I would be grateful to hear them.
Connecting Android to your computer should be easy, right?
I apologize in advance, Stu, if this answer column is a little short because you have already followed many of the troubleshooting steps I would suggest. And that’s cool! You are already six steps ahead of the game. Even though you haven’t been able to come up with a working solution, the fact that you can cross out a number of ideas on your “Something Won’t Fix, Please” list is a step in the right direction and helps us narrow down to a few others. tricks to try.
Considering that nothing worked to solve your problem and you tried all the usual steps I would recommend, my first and first thought is to factory reset the phone. I understand that this leads to a nuclear attack and not a surgical attack, but I am wondering if simply starting from scratch on your Android can cure any setting that now makes it impossible for Windows 10 to see your phone.
Start by backing up your work phone using Samsung Cloud . Once you’re done, reset it to factory settings , and I recommend not performing a restore from any backup when you set it up a second time. Do what you already did – enable USB debugging, set your phone to MTP mode, etc. – and connect it to your Windows 10 system. If your laptop still can’t see your phone, I feel like we’re we can exclude the phone as the culprit. Nearly.
Then I would try to see if you can get any Windows 10 system to recognize your phone. Even though we’re in quarantine, perhaps you can borrow a friend’s laptop or desktop, connect it using the same methods I just described, and see what happens. If it appears in File Explorer, we can reasonably assume that there is something wrong with your laptop or your Windows 10 OS. If not, then shoot . I have no idea what happened. Maybe rooting your Galaxy S7 and installing a third-party Android OS could fix your problem? Here we come to the extreme solutions, but this is a frustrating problem if you often need to transfer files between your phone and laptop.
If another Windows 10 PC allows you to access your Android and yours does not, I initially thought I’d just say “hell” and reinstall your version of Windows 10 . Again, this is another nuclear bomb, but I often find it takes less time to set up Windows 10 from scratch than trying to fix a particularly troublesome issue you’re having with the OS. Plus, you get all the added benefits of having a great clean, fresh and fast system to work with.
However, before using this approach, clone the existing disk . If reinstalling Windows 10 doesn’t solve your problem, you can simply overwrite it with your clone to get the old OS back (and your data / files / settings / apps / etc.).
While you are doing this, I would make sure you also install any BIOS updates or updated USB drivers that your laptop manufacturer may have provided. Perhaps this will help solve your problem as well, if you haven’t tried it yet. (If it’s an older laptop, chances are good that whatever Windows 10 uses for your USB drivers is more up-to-date than what your laptop manufacturer puts on their website. Please don’t install, say, any driver package that was published five years ago.)
My suspicion – which seems to be confirmed by other reports – is the fact that some major Windows update blocked Driver Samsung MTP. So, before you nuk and reinstall Windows 10, try this tip (step # 7). Find your connected Galaxy S7 in Device Manager even if it is listed as “unknown device” and try updating your driver using the “I’ll pick from the list …” method. Select “Android Phone” and select “MTP USB Device” instead of “MTP Device”.
Otherwise, you can try using an app / service like AirDroid or SuperBeam to transfer files from Android to laptop. You can also buy a cheap microSD card and USB reader to manage files between devices in this way – which would be cumbersome compared to a direct connection. Finally, if all of this is driving you crazy, you can always dual boot an earlier version of Windows 10 (or even, say, Windows 8.1 or whatever) on your laptop. It’s not really ideal from a performance standpoint, but definitely a solution.