File Commander is a well known file manager that just added support for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. It doesn’t have quite as many features as ES File Explorer, like the ability to download files through a built-in web browser, but it easily repalces Total Commander as the 2nd most feature rich file manager in the Fire TV appstore. Although it may not be able to technically do as much as ES File Explorer, File Commander might be the better option for many of you, thanks to its superior user interface and Amazon Drive support.
The app’s home screen will be familiar to those of you who have used ES File Explorer. On the left is a side menu with the different areas of the app and on the right is a customizable list of shortcuts. The app offers a premium version via a $4.99 in-app purchase, which it does not hesitate to remind you of on nearly every screen. Most of the features you need, like file manipulation, cloud drive access, and direct PC file transfers through a remote web interface are available in the free version. Paying for the premium version will unlock file encryption, a storage analyzer, bookmarks, a recycle bin, access to hidden files, and it removes the banner ad at the bottom.
The core file browser functionality is fairly straightforward. The app incorrectly labels the internal /sdcard directory of the Fire TV as “USB storage,” but it’s otherwise a good file manager. If you have an external USB drive connected, it will show up as “External USB storage” and a microSD card will show up as a “Storage Device.” Long pressing on a file will select it and bring up options in the upper right. The app supports mice and keyboards, but can be used with only the Fire tv remote. Navigating the interface is not perfect, since you still have to move a “highlighter” around the screen to access different options, which can get tedious, but overall I found it much easier to use than ES File Explorer, which has a notoriously bad UI.
One of the more advanced features in File Commander is the ability to connect to cloud drives. The app currently supports Amazon Drive, Google Drive, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, and SugarSync. The nice thing about the Amazon Drive support is that it uses your Amazon account that you’re signed into on the Fire TV, so you actually don’t need to input any login or password information to access your Amazon Drive files. You just need to grant the app permission to access the files. For those curious, selecting an APK file stored in one of the supported cloud drives will immediately download the file and prompt you to install the app, making File Commander a very good option for sideloading.
The app also has a very slick PC file transfer feature that allows you to manipulate the files on your Fire TV using a web browser from a PC or smartphone. Selecting PC File Transfer from the side menu and selecting the Start Service button will instantly display an IP based local URL for you to load in any browser, without needing to configure anything. There is unfortunately a bug in the app right now that prevents this feature from working if your Fire TV is using an ethernet connection, so it only works if you’re connected to WiFi for the moment.
The above image is what the remote management interface looks like in a web browser. Through it, you can upload files to your Fire TV, download files from your Fire TV, and even manipulate files by deleting them remotely or moving them around. I personally found this interface much easier to use and much more stable than the similar feature found in ES File Explorer.
File Commander can also connect to devices on your local network and access their shared files. Pressing a “refresh” button in the top menu of the local network screen resulted in a complete mess which listed every IP on my network as an available device, even if there wasn’t actually a device using the IP. However, pressing the triple dot menu button in the upper right allows you to manually enter a device’s IP and login information, which worked perfectly to access my NAS device and browse its contents. I was even able to stream video files from my NAS without having to download them first, although File Commander itself does not have a built-in video player.
The final option for remote file access is the ability to connect to an FTP server. I didn’t personally try this myself, but all the options you would need are available, so I imagine it works as you’d expect.
For general file management needs on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, File Commander will likely replace ES File Explorer for me personally, due to its superior interface and remote browser. ES File Explorer’s killer feature is still its built-in web browser that allows you to download files directly, which is most commonly used to sideload apps without needing a secondary device like a PC or smartphone. File Commander is fully capable of installing 3rd-party apps, but you’ll need to put the APK on external storage, transfer the APK file from a PC or smartphone using the remote manager, or upload the APK to one of the supported cloud drives in order to get the APK file onto the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. I will be writing a sideloading guide using File Commander soon.