Hands-on with Files for Windows Phone 8.1

You’ve been waiting for it and now it’s finally here. Files by Microsoft has just officially arrived at the Windows Phone Store and we’ve spent some time with it. There are already third-party apps for managing files and folders, like Pocket Explorer and Aerize Explorer, but let’s see how Microsoft’s official solution works.

Head past the break to watch our hands-on video.


  • Access files stored on your phone and SD card
  • Browse, search and launch files
  • Easily share one file or multiple files
  • Create folders to organize your files
  • Copy, move, rename and delete files

Files screenshot

Files let you know how much storage you have used and how much you have left. Using it is very straightforward. Click on a folder name to view the contents. Click on a file to open it. We have no problems opening PDF, ringtones, videos, or images. If there’s a specific file that you’re looking for, just hit the search button at the bottom. Another handy feature is sorting. You can sort files by name, time, or size.

The Files app look very simple. Under a file or folder name, is a timestamp. To the left, is a thumbnail if it’s an image or video. The number of files or folders is shown to the left of folder names.

Our favorite feature is sharing files to Mail as attachments. You can attach documents, ringtones, images, and more. Press and hold on a folder or file, and then click share. Select one of your email accounts, and your Windows Phone will open a new email with the files as attachments.

Files attach

Files is a free download from the Windows Phone Store. What are you waiting for? Go download it now on your Windows Phone 8.1 devices! Will you be using Files by Microsoft, or do you already have a favorite third-party file manager? Let us know in the comments!

QR: Files


Reader comments

Hands-on with Files for Windows Phone 8.1



Xbox music team, you should be taking notes. See how fast this app came out? See how fast you can scroll through hugh lists of music or photos without having to see 'loading'? This app is great, i hope someone at xbox music wakes up.

Lol, two completely different types of apps. This is so basic because its just a file explorer, Xbox Music os a cloud based collection pulling from your phone, your cloud, and listing them with all info and album art. Those are a little different, and they are working on it. They've been releasing an update every two weeks where have you been?

He hasn't gone anywhere... The Xbox Music team has been "working on it" for a couple years now and things kept getting WORSE. Just now are they finally releasing updates that are actually better than the previous version. And it's still at a snail's pace. The core issues and biggest glitches remain. I don't see why you, or anyone, feels the need to come to the defense of the team who created such a terribly busted app.

I've been right here the whole time with every update. It's getting better but its far from perfect. And the function to call up a list of files cannot be that much different. Other WP apps can do this with ease. Xbox music is just not getting it. I also have cloud turned off and its super slow.

I think they need to start from scratch. The best thing about my iPhone is the music app works flawlessly every time with zero lag. Its that confident consistency that keeps me coming back. I love the custom and simplistic feel of WP but certain things just need to work. Period.

Don't get crazy on me! An iPhone isn't a solution! NEVER!!!!! The old WP player was great, and WP8.1 is still very new. I'm sure the' files' team will help them out. :) Xbox music is close to greatness, I believe in them. Microsoft may be slow once in a while, but they are always worth the wait!!! :P

An iPhone isn't a solution, maybe, but I'd wish Microsoft to learn something from Apple.

internet explorer has improved but is far from Safari in many aspects, for example.

I'd rather use IE. Safari is garbage. Every mac user I know uses chrome or Firefox. Didn't look into it yet, but the next IE is right around where corner.

I've been using my dads non retina iPad mini and I have to admit its such a joy to use compared to my dv8pro everything works perfectly, and I don't get random blue screens.-_-

I just wish they'd add back in DNLA pull. I hate using bandwidth for something stored in the next room

But the iPhone was originally the ipod-a music player. You could say Apple had a head start but still no excuse about MS. it shouldn't take this long..

And xbox music was originally the zune music player.  You could say that should have given Microsoft a head start in development, but they started with something good and then messed things up with every new iteration.  At least that's the way it's worked in their world of music players.

Yeah, they are like amateur dev keep updating facebook app every week. But the result was the same glitch buggy lagging damn facebook app............

It's definitely not super slow, it sure still needs work but everytime I launch it I can click shuffle or a playlist and music starts playing right away even while it says loading on top. What do you guys do just stare at that "loading music" until it stops before playing music?

Regardless, 'loaded' is something that nobody should ever see with locally stored files. IE can load whole web pages before I can get a list of 40 artists on Xbox music.

Settings, un click show streaming music in collection. It's actually the only option in the settings.

Glad you noticed that Xbox team is "lazy". I get the feeling that Nokia Dev Team had a big contribution to the build of Files application. It is similiar to the one on Meego and even looks the same as the one on Symbian S60. Nokia man!

You can now use files as a basic music player on your Windows device.  It's not fancy - it works like a basic mp3 player from maybe 7 or 8 years ago - but it WORKS.  If I could only attach album art to music files I would be set. 

Be sure you have Bluetooth on... In WP you have to switch BT on to use it. Quite annoying, but this way it works!

Tried opening a Word document from Files and started editing it. Tells me it's read-only. Can't save changes.

Not a good start.

I think that's more an issue with Office as opposed to Files. I think certain .docx files are read only on WP.

I have to say, I think Files rocks, I particularly like the fact that you can now attach pretty much any file type to emails.

Yup, attaching files is a breeze now. My favorite feature, I don't really have much other use for file manager on WP, I got used to navigating the system without one, because the OS was designed like that. It's certainly a handy addition though.

With a little workaround it works... Create a new folder (call it e.g. Whatsapp Music), copy your file you intend to send into this folder, add .mp4 to the file's name. Go to WA and you will find it there as a Video. Other is not possible atm. But that is Whatsapp's fault, not MS's!

MS just made one of the stupidest file manager. Did you really use it?. Have you try to watch multiple pictures at once through this file manager.

You just made one of the "stupidest" comments. If I want to look through photos, I go to gallery. In File manager, I MANAGE files.. move around, batch delete, check data, send, blabla.

GG002, please stop making sense....

Then again, I was surprice he didn't ask for mouse support and multiple windows this file manager to browse, open and play pictures, movies, and executables

Actually your comment is more stupid.

where do you read that we do not view images in file manager?

Your comment shows that you are narrow minded person.

Can you tell me what will be wrong just to add swipe feature for viewing images?


Users like you don't know what you want. Before file manager launch you always says that WP don't need a file manager.

So, you don't know anything about file manager.

actually you don't know anything about WP and smartphone.


ES file explorer on Android also just displays one photo and plays music in some weird player that doesn't run in the background. Write a review, tell then what your idea, maybe they'll listen, but you still have Photos app to view photos.

Good point about ES - and that's the first app I put on any android device!!!!

It's about choice - if you don't want or need it don't use it. Move along.

Thanks MSFT!

First of all.

Android isn't WP. I don't know why user keep bringing Android and iOS here.

They are different and WP is different.

So, if something which isn't avaiable on Android doesn't mean that WP doesn't need it.

or do you consider Android as benchmark OS?

Benchmark in terms of funcionality yes, you could say it like that. In terms of speed and performance, not so much. Of course WP Files could be better, I just said how other (great) file managers have approached the issue.

I know WP isn't android, but it's a direct (very successful) competitor, so if we can't compare WP to iOS and android, what are we gonna compare it against? OSX or Windows x86? Or maybe Volvo and Bosch? Or Heinz? Let's just compare WP to trees and penguins.

There's plenty that android is doing great, and there's plenty that's not. Same with WP. Since file managers on WP were very limited until now, it's kinda hard to compare Files against file managers that were available befor, and last thing if you read my comment correctly, I wasn't comparing WP to Android, I was coparing Files to ES File Explorer, or am I not even allowed to compare different apps to each other?

Stop being offended for such trivial things, mobile OS are going to be compared to each other for a while. You could also say Tesla cars are different, you can't compare them to Golf diesel, but yes, you can, they are both, in the end, meant to bring you from point A to point B. They both need wheels and some sort of engine, a chassis, roof, windows, and they're both tested to the same safety regulations.

Still, you still haven't answer my question.
If something which isn't available on Android apps means their is no need in WP too?

I don't understand why some your are getting angry(not you).
I face this lots of time.
First when I mention file manger that time same response,
When I mention auto rotate on/off same response that time too and etc.

Eventually apps came but why some users are like this that they can't even want to listen anything wrong about WP.

Of course it doesn't mean that WP can't do things better, it could, sometimes it does, hubs and lenses is a great example, too bad they ruined hubs in 8.1. Before I had 1 tile for music, and I could access Music, Nokia music, Tunein, cloudmuzik and mpatool all from one place, or I could just press the quick play button. It was amazing. Similar with imaging apps, all available from Photos tile and swipe to the left. I also prefer vertical list of apps and vertical start screen, I feel like Start is way more small screen and touch friendly then android stock launcher.

If I didn't think WP is better (for my needs at least) than android, I wouldn't have bought the 925 but Nexus 5 instead.

I never said that there's not apps on WP, even the opposite, I always say that all necessary apps are available, you just have to look for them sometimes because they may be 3rd party.

Complain to reviewing sites, they always make WP sound like a toy.

But if this isn't available on android file manager apps(like people are claiming) then what makes MS's version the "stupidest" version?
Anyways, this isn't something to complain about. The app would keep getting updated. To a very large extent, the app offers what it promised; a way to manage files on your device.

To be honest, I'm glad that MS finally decided to release a file manager. All others in the store were either missing features or you had to pay for the full version. This one, however, works just the way i like it. For free.

This. Folders beta finally got it working, but should be in MS app by default. Still this is a nice, simple, elegant app. Well done.

I agree, all of this features should have been added to OneDrive, just like it is in the Windows 8 app.   there is no reason to have two similar file managers, when you can simply have one and select between local and cloud

This is 1.0 and MS has been fairly responsive to requests.  Look at how much we've gotten over the last year.  The ability to "close" apps from the card view screen, better wifi management, bigger screens with more pixels, and a boat load of other features.  A year ago, we didn't even have GDR2 yet and had yet to have the Developer Preview program. 

As people request OneDrive integration, it will come.  I also hope with this that it is close to a Universal App.  The Modern UI needs a great file manager on its way to eliminating the Desktop.  Once all the Control Panel features are moved over, Modern Office is out, and there's a File Manager, they can begin to release machines without the Desktop on RT and even on Intel.  I think with Threshold and the ability to window Modern apps, they will begin to push developers into the Modern UI for all design, whether legacy Desktop or Win8, so we will see new app updates to things like Creative Suite, AutoCAD, etc all in Modern with some contextual ability to detect input and switch controls, providing a different interface if touch is present, but a mouse and keyboard interface when those are plugged in.

Going to be really interesting a year from now.

I like "Files" : well done MS !

- it is simple and straight forward

- it allows for the creation of a new folder in the root

- But I agree that OneDrive should be integrated too : it is the only thing missing

Sorry, didn't realized that there was already a post for it, for some reason it didn't load up for me :/

That's not an app limitation but at the OS level. In fact it's one of Windows Phone's key security features.

I can finally access my office docs I copied through USB cable. Hope the next update will bring the ability to access downloaded torrent files (though its illegal) LOL

Torrents are not illegal. A lot of legit companies use torrents to share legal files and save on bandwidth. It all depends on what kind of torrent files you're downloading. And... I guess it would be possible now with 8.1 for someone to create a torrent app for Windows Phone that would create a Torrents folder in the Downloads folder. It'd be pretty cool!

I can access my torrents on my phone I just did it with wptorrent and files downloaded the torrent and it was there. What we need now is WinZip and winrar!!!

I've never been able to successfully open a zip or rar file with that there's no extract option in the shi when I opened the files they were just there and I couldn't do anything else

Yeah - need winzip or winrar on wp!

And for the next update multiple attachments to one email! ( including zips) - wp is getting feature rich quick ;)

"Our favorite feature is sharing files to Mail as attachments". Yes but still no way to REPLY to an email with a document, like all email clients have been able to do since email was invented.

To be fair, that's something the mail client needs to do, so maybe we'll see that in an update soon. There's a lot of forward movement lately, so who knows

I don't use File managers anymore, but I downloaded it anyway ... Have to say, I like it a lot more than Pocket Explorer.

Not that Pocket Explorer is bad, the UI was bit too busy for my taste.

I haven't tested it, but you can already do this directly from the emails, so I'm pretty sure it must work in this app.

I just downloaded it. Also nothing to do with this but att has Nokia fatboy chargers for $5 online and in store. The only one showing in stock online is cyan. I tried to order but it keeps kicking me out to the main page. I also found white Nokia plate chargers for $5. They showed out of stock yesterday. I ordered one while I could.

Does anyone know if one can set a certain App to open a certain file by default? Like having adobe PDF reader open all PDF file without the file picker poping up everytime.

Hmm... my Adobe Reader already opens PDF by default.  I think you just have to uninstall the MS "Reader" app.

If you have two apps supporting the same type of file, they are both proposed and you have to choose.

it's not possible to set a "default" app

The feature I really like about this app is its ability to open the contents of a zip file, just like in PC.

Why do they need to? Does Google Android, or any OEM skin bake it in, no. It works, and it works well. Sure it's not going to give you access to core files like ES File Manager on Droid, but that's the beauty of it, and will keep people from F*&^ing up their devices like they do on the dark side.

You know it's coming. It took Android what 27 updates to take care of basic features, but people don't give MS a chance with what now, 2-3 updates to Win 8?

Glad I held back from paying for 'pro' version of a 3rd party file explorer. Although, with $60 in my wallet thanks to being a 'new lumia owner', I could probably afford to fork over the 99c...

no , you can install when Wp8.1 gets released to General public in month or so. alternatively you install Wp8.1 dev preview ( dont have to be dev to download it )

Exactly! No love for 8.0! No 8.1 for me. I just can't give up my music hub for something that's way less capable. And I've never been impressed with any notification centers. But that's just me. :)

It's me, too. I didn't go WP8 until Amber, either. Hopefully WP8.1 will be acceptable for real use sooner than later.

Good app. It replaces Pocket File Manager on my start screen. doesn't support any kind of file transfer. Between phone and PC, or phone and phone, etc. You know, it's kind of sad that a "Windows" phone doesn't even support Windows networking.


Awesome... Finally can mail PDF directly.. Is fast n non laggy on my 520, definitely made the first impression..

How? I just tried deleting things on my 1520, but unless I delete the "entire" folder, I don't see a way. When I long press it just brings up the menu to do it one at a time.

tap on the select button on the application bar and it will activate selection mode. select multiple files, then tap on the delete button.

If you are using 8.1 try the link that wpcentral page gives you. I too could find it in the store search
P.S: I'm from India too