How to use the System Picker Files app in Fire OS 8 on the 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K & 4K Max to grant access to External USB Storage Drive Folders

The 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K and 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max support connecting a USB drive for external storage but the stricter file access permissions in Fire OS 8 on these latest Fire TV devices can cause issues when apps try to access the external storage. The solution is to use the pre-installed default Files app to grant the app you are using permission to access specific folders on your external storage drive. Unfortunately, the Files app is very difficult to navigate because it is not made to be used with a remote control. This guide walks you through the specific steps to take to use the Files app on a Fire TV running Fire OS 8 to grant an app access to external USB storage.

Prerequisite 1 – Keyboard or ADB Connection

To follow this guide, you need to either be able to run ADB commands from an external device, like a computer or Android Phone, or have a keyboard connected to your Fire TV, either through Bluetooth or through a USB hub that is connected through an OTG cable, since you need both the USB keyboard and the USB drive connected simultaneously. You cannot complete this guide using only a remote, a mouse, or by entering ADB commands in the “Remote ADB” app installed on your Fire TV. Either set up your external ADB connection now or connect a keyboard now.

Prerequisite 2 – Clear Files App Data

It’s much easier to follow this guide if the Files app is in its default state. If you haven’t done so yet as one of the steps in a different guide, you should clear the data of the Fire TV’s pre-installed “Files” app by navigating to Settings > Applications > Manage Installed Applications, selecting the “Files” app from the list, selecting the “Clear data” option, and selecting “Ok” to confirm the action. This ensures the app launches in its default state.

Guide

  1. This guide only works if the app you are using opens the defualt Files app (a.k.a. System Picker) when it tries to access USB storage. Perform the action in the app you are using that causes the Files app to open. The Files app should open to the default home screen, showing your /sdcard directories, and the grid icon on the right side of the screen should be highlighted with a circle around it.
  2. If you are using a keyboard, continue to the next step. Otherwise, if you are using an ADB connection instead of a keyboard, run the following command and skip to step 6:
    adb shell "input keyevent 61 && input keyevent 66 && input keyevent 61 && input keyevent 62"
  3. Press TAB on your keyboard to move the highlight cursor to the menu icon in the upper left.
  4. Press ENTER on your keyboard to open the left side menu.
  5. You should see your USB Storage listed in the left side menu. To select it, press TAB and then press SPACEBAR on your keyboard.
  6. You should now be looking at the folders and files on your USB Storage device. If you want to select the root directory of your USB Storage, skip to step 8. If you want to select a folder on your USB storage, continue to the next step.
  7. Use either the arrow keys on your keyboard or the UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT ring on your remote to navigate to the directory on your USB Storage that you want to select. Highlight the directory and select it with either the ENTER button on your keyboard or the center SELECT button on your remote.
  8. You should now be looking at the directory you want to select for the app you are using. The “USE THIS FOLDER” button at the bottom of the screen should be a lighter blue color than the button in the image in the previous step. The lighter blue color indicates the button is highlighted, so all you need to do is press ENTER on your keyboard or SELECT on your remote to click the button. If the button is the darker blue, it means you accidentally navigated off the button and you now need to either press BACK to return to the previous screen and re-enter the folder or start the guide over from the begining. If you start the guide over, you should re-clear the data of the Files app to reset it to its default state.
  9. Once you’ve selected the “USE THIS FOLDER” button, a confirmation message will appear. Press RIGHT twice to highlight the “ALLOW” button and press ENTER on your keyboard or press SELECT on your remote.
  10. You should now be sent back to the app that initiated the file selection process. You’re done. By navigating to the folder you want to use and clicking the “USE THIS FOLDER” button, the Files app has granted the app you were using permission to use the folder you selected.

29 comments
  1. Tom E. says:

    Afteruch searching and frustration this appears to be the answer needed. I have orders a keyboard from Amazon. Already have a USB hub. I am assuming the thumb drive needs to be Fat32 as per 7.0 OS. Thank you and will post my results.

  2. Tom says:

    Got the small keyboard for the Firestick and followed all the suggestions and Voila, recordings going to USB stick.

    Thank you all

  3. Gary W says:

    Excellent guidance! Many thanks to Elias Saba. After spending HOURS trying to figure out a solution, I found this post. Thankfully I had a spare USB hub and a remote keyboard and followed the System Picker instructions. Worked perfectly.

    • Indapipe says:

      Agreed!! I had been searching, googling, asking on reddit and someone there directed me to this guide. Thanks so much!!

  4. Peter Metivier says:

    Hello. I am attempting to follow these excellent guides. I connected my wireless keyboard to the USB hub together with the flash drive. My problem is….there is no menu on the left upper side of the AFTKM logo to click on. I have tried and tried. My fire stick 4K Max is up to date. I may try to use ann anndroid tablet next. Appreciate any help. Thanks.

    • Peter Steinhoff says:

      Hi there new here having the same issue, hamburger top left not showing. Was there a resolution anywhere to solve that issue ?

  5. Tom C says:

    Instead if buying a usb keyboard and multiport USB OTG cable, would the mouse toggle APK work?
    I haven’t tried yet, but just wondering if I need to buy the keyboard and cable for what (hopefully) may be a very rare use.

  6. E.B. says:

    I have a brand new MECOOL KM2 Plus android 11 box and I have the same issue. Trying to setup recordings on a Sandisk 256GB SD card (formatted in Large FAT32 with Rufus to avoid the 4GB file size limit restriction). Also have Tivimate 4.7.0 premium. I use X-Plore as a file manager app.
    The KM2 has 2 USB ports and an SD card slot built-in so I’m in luck for connecting a keyboard to it while the SD card is in.
    Issues:
    – I don’t have the System Picker option showing in Tivimate
    – I get error “impossible to change recordings folder” whenever I try to change the path to external storage in Tivimate. Recording in internal storage works fine.
    – Same thing when trying to create a backup. Error “impossible to create backup”.

    I realize that this post is about the new FS but I was wondering if someone was able to confirm that this guide works on an Android 11 box as well?
    I also saw another post on Reddit from someone who has a Mecool KM6 device and did not have System Picker showing in Tivimate. He fixed it by looking up the path of the external device in X-Plore and entering the same path manually in the Tivimate recordings folder path field.

    I will try both solutions today and see what works or not.

    • gene says:

      I have an android 11 box as well, and I have not been able to make this work on external usb storage. It seems to work if you try to record one program while watching another, but if I try to do a future record for example a custom record on a program once every week at the same time, it either doesn’t save or saves in a corrupted format that can’t be played.someone told me that tivimate has only updated to the 10.0 version and has no plans to go further and so anything overa 10.0 won’t work.

      • E.b. says:

        Whoever told you that is full of sh.t !
        Tivimate works very well on android 10_11_12. A new Tivimate version 5.0 came out last week and within 4 days 2 minor updates were made by the dev based on feedback he got from users. So now it’s at version. 5.0.2
        This whole recording issue is not a Tivimate issue … It’s an android issue.

        • gene says:

          Really,then how come all those people on the tivimate website are all having the exact same issue (my 4k still won’t record to the external storage , even after all the new updates and these fixes) with recording mostly in a future custom record , and a lot of the time the recording is there but won’t play no matter how many players you try it on? I know that I have been using tivimate for 4 years now and have had it set exactly the same for all that time , and even with the firestick 4k , I still can’t get it to record to the external storage…have tried many usb storage devices and made sure that the path is exactly correct …must be something to it with so many people having isues

          • E.b. says:

            Do more (better) research. Everybody using Tivimate is using it on an android or FireOS (Amazon custom OS based on Android 11) device and they all have the issue because Google modified the file access restrictions in Android 11 and that is why all the issues started. I have 2 Firestick 4k Max (1st gen) with FireOS 7.2.5.5 and since I’ve blocked all Amazon OS updates on both of them I do not have those issues and can record fine on external with Tivimate. Also people on nVidia Shield devices do not have the issue since the Shield is still running on Android 9. When Google did the update to android 11 Amazon also updated their FireOS so everyone who is on FireOS 7.5+ or FireOS 8 is now having the issue.

          • MNBob says:

            I have a link below that may help, I haven’t tried it.

            I ran into this same issue when I tried an Onn box. I did a work around with SMB in Tivimate and recorded to my laptop. The instructions on how to do that are at troypoint.com (see the video about half way down):

            https://troypoint.com/record-iptv/

          • gene says:

            the recording says unrecognized format exception …the file is there, but nothing can play it…

          • E.b. says:

            Yes, if you are unable to apply the “system picker solutions” then there are 2 possible ways to work around the issue.
            1. Transfer all your apps to the same external storage that you want to save your recordings on.
            2. Connect the external storage (HDD,SSD,usb drive) to another device on the same network (a laptop, or PC) and use SMB setup.
            I’ve setup a Mecool KM2 Plus for someone recently and option 2 was the only way to make it work because SMB bypasses the new android file access restrictions.
            Google changed the file access permissions for “security reasons” and now they require that the recording folder must be at the same location as the application making the recording.

      • Jeff Souba says:

        Thank you for this post. I’ve been trying for a week to figure out how to get to my usb drive. When I followed these instructions step by step it worked the first time. I am using his with tivimate on a Firestick 4K max that I got a week ago. I used by Bluetooth apple keyboard and it worked fine on the firestick. Keep up the good work!

  7. Pierre Sangan says:

    Hello,

    I have used these instructions before. This time the systems picker will not move to the USB drive when using Tab from the left side menu?

    The drive is formatted correctly for external storage.

  8. The Mad Dane says:

    Hi

    I am likewise struggling to get the external storage to work with Tivimate (4.7.0 Premium). My Firestick is on Version 8.1.0.2 (1967) I get all the way to where you are in system picker.

    I can tab and the folders highlight to the bottom then the next the tab (top left the) menu hamburger does not highlight, if I enter I get a message “To protect your privacy, choose another folder”.

    If you tab again it highlights the AFTKM top left of screen but enter and or space does nothing.

    Has anybody been able to find a way to select the external device

  9. jason says:

    when running the adb shell command i get back;
    inaccessible or not found

  10. Greg says:

    I do not even see the hamburger menu at all on the top left. It is not there. It is almost like my fire tv stick does not see my jump drive.

  11. fenderspeed says:

    Using the keyboard method was the solution for emulators not allowing me to select a ROM directory. Thanks so much, you are the #1 source for Firestick!

  12. Daniel C says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
    I managed to pull off guessing with a mouse and was totally successful.
    not easy but worth the cussing.

  13. MNBob says:

    I just got this to work on my Firestick 4K Max Version 2. This was after quite a few tries over a week or so. You have to follow the instructions exactly, including clearing everything in the Files App. I used a Bluetooth keyboard.

    Thanks so much for this how to!

  14. Alexander Leon says:

    I connected a 128 gb USB to my Firestick 4k max and followed the directions above using a Bluetooth keyboard I bought on Amazon prime and it worked as advertised. I tried using my laptop and ADB connection but it was not working for me. Bluetooth keyboard method was super easy.

  15. MNBob says:

    I have ordered a Meecool KM2 Plus Deluxe so I will be in the android boat soon. For android users, the best info I have found is in a Reddit thread. There is a response by NaturalBlueberry3213 that seems to imply that it can be done if you use the android data folder on the external drive. I have not tried it but will soon. Here is the link:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/AndroidTV/comments/10sv895/external_storage_access_issues_androidtv_11_and/

  16. Nigel P says:

    Brilliant post Elias! Used it to get 1Dm+ working on my Firestick.

  17. Dylan says:

    Can’t access the Hamburger Tab on system picker.
    Tried using a keyboard then hitting tab and it don’t work.
    Mouse doesn’t work either.

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