Missing storage access permission in Fire OS 8 on 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K & 4K Max is causing issues with Media Player and File Manager apps

With the new 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K and 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max came the arrival of Fire SO 8 to the Fire TV lineup, which is based on Android 11. This newer version of Android includes a major change to how apps are allowed to access files. Unfortunately, Amazon seems to have forgotten to include a crucial new storage permission option in its newest operating system. As a result, some features of media player apps, like Kodi and MX Player, have been rendered unusable and many file managers have been crippled with some, like Total Commander, no longer working at all.

Android/Google TV Storage Permission Options

It’s fairly common for some apps or app features to break with the release of a new major operating system version since app developers often need time with the new OS to find and fix incompatibilities. However, that’s not the case with what is going on with Fire OS 8 on the latest Firesticks because Amazon has simply omitted a specific yet important storage permission option that is present on Android 11 devices. That missing permission is the third option, labeled “Allow all the time,” seen above in the permission settings of a Chromecast running Google TV.

Fire TV Storage Permission Options

In Fire OS 8, there are only two storage permission choices, Allow and Deny. Selecting “Allow” on a Fire OS 8 Fire TV has the same effect as selecting “Allow only while using the app” on a device running Android 11 or newer. While the poor labeling of Google’s options seems to imply that the distinction between the two has to do with the app being open in the foreground or the background, there is a much bigger difference. Selecting “Allow” in Fire OS 8 or “Allow only while using the app” means the app can only access its own files and photo/video files with popular media file extensions, like JPG and MP4.

Selecting the “Allow all the time” storage permission has the added effect of granting the app access to nearly all files stored in the /sdcard/ internal storage directory. I say nearly because there are still protected directories that require additional special permission for an app to access, but that’s getting ahead of myself. Without an “Allow all the time” option available, most modern apps running on Fire OS 8 devices cannot access non-media files that the app itself did not create.

File Manager on Fire OS 8 instructing user to select an option that doesn’t exist.

This renders most popular file managers in the Amazon Appstore, like Total Commander, X-plore, and AnExplorer, practically useless because they can’t access most of the files on a Fire TV’s internal or external storage. The issues aren’t limited to file managers because media player apps like Kodi, which need to access user-created config files stored in the root /sdcard/ directory have no way to gain permission to read those files.

Apps that target much older versions of Android are excluded from this limitation through a special legacy access permission in Android 11. ES File Explorer is one such file manager that happens to be developed for a version of Android that is old enough to allow this exception, so it’s one of the few Fire TV file managers that can still access most files. However, you should really avoid this app at all costs because its developers have proven they cannot be trusted and Google removed the app from the Google Play Store in 2019.

While the missing permission option is unfortunate, things get a bit worse. For some reason, Amazon has decided to restrict access to the “/sdcard/Android/data/” and “/sdcard/Android/obb/” directories via ADB in Fire OS 8. Many apps store user data files in these directories and Fire TV power users will often use ADB access as a way to remotely manage these files. Without access to these directories, for example, it becomes difficult if not impossible to backup the user data of many apps.

It’s unclear why Amazon has added this additional restriction to Fire OS 8, since devices running Android 11 and 12 do not put any file access restrictions on ADB connections. While the Android/data and Android/obb directories on Android 11 and 12 devices do require a user to grant additional special permission before an installed app can access those folders, the ADB limitation found in Fire OS 8 seems unique to Amazon’s operating system.

While most users of the new Fire TV Stick 4K and 4K Max will just find themselves with no options when they try to use an app that has no way to access the restricted files, it is possible to bypass this limitation for advanced users willing to perform some fairly technical steps. To grant an app full storage access in Fire OS 8, as if the “Allow all the time” were present and selected, you can run some special ADB commands which I outline in this guide. To grant an app access to the Android/data or Android/obb directories that require special permissions, you can use the very cumbersome but barely usable default Files app to grant the permission which I outline in this guide. As for the restricted ADB access, there does not seem to be a way around that at this time.

Hopefully, Amazon will expand the current storage permission settings to include the missing option in a future Fire OS 8 software update. These are the types of omissions I usually point out to Amazon when they send me Fire TV hardware to vet before release, but it seems like Amazon was, unfortunately, in a rush to get the new Firesticks out and didn’t give me a chance to catch these mistakes this year. At least, for those technically inclined, there are still ways to work around these issues while we wait for a fix from Amazon, via the aforementioned guides.

33 comments
  1. Bernadette says:

    I can’t get my Netflix and my other iVery important app running you need to fix your problems some on my fire tv

  2. Jabon says:

    Thanks
    Very informative

  3. Barnie says:

    I’m wondering what will happen if you sideload the unrestricted version of Total Commander v3.42d. On my Lenovo tablet with Android 13, I can access the data directory, but not the obb directory.

    https://www.ghisler.ch/board/viewtopic.php?t=76644

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll definitely look into that. Once permission is granted over ADB and the special access permission is granted with the Files app, Total Commander seems to be fully functional, but perhaps sideloading the version you suggested is an easy way to achieve the same.

      • John says:

        Hello Elias,

        Latest update rs8101/1854 appears to resolve issues with file manage management.

        Now has two options in certain apk’s such as DefSquid, X-plore, and VLC.

        All files – allow management of all files.

        Media. Allow access to media files.

        I can now delete unwanted files in X-plore and DefSquid now runs Booster.

    • Ann Antillon says:

      I had live TV channels on my Amazon 4k max stix. After 3 months one day I turned TV on and it’s gone. Im wondering if it’s been replaced with Silk browser. Help ?

    • Andy says:

      Did this work? Thanks

  4. Michael says:

    Wait a minute. You get preview hardware? Is this the first we’re hearing this?

    • It’s been on my disclosures page (linked in the footer of every page) for years. https://www.aftvnews.com/disclosures/

      The short version is that I accept review units from Amazon prior to release because it’s the only way to get new devices a few days early, but I always return the review unit. I’ve received pretty much every Fire TV version early since the 1st-gen Fire TV Cube, but this year’s new Fire TV Sticks are the first in a long time that I didn’t get early.

      • Michael says:

        Thanks for the link. Hope I didn’t sound like I thought there was an issue with ethics. Not my intent. Figured Amazon sent everyone to the store because because some sites review the devices after the release date.

  5. Cynthia Lopresti says:

    Somehow or another the fire stick is starting to hog up on my space I clear my cash constantly every single day however I used to have always at least 178 free now it’s running about 1:30 1:25 on my fire stick I’m using text to speech to excuse any spelling yours this is driving me crazy I cannot find out where these extra files are going and clean out my fire stick without losing any programs I’ve deleted all unnecessary programs that I don’t use but yet these hidden files are still around anybody can help me I’m not that great at this I need to clean all these Dead Files out that I don’t need any help would be greatly appreciated I need to get a new fire stick and have to start all over again

    • Sandys63 says:

      You need ” Fast task app” it force stops all apps including firestick bloat ware.. the apps amazon loads. I love the new 2nd gen firestick 4k max.. 16 gig of storage.. never bogs down

  6. Robert Higgins says:

    Yep. I got the same problem. The new 4K Max 2003, I can’t backup apks to usb drive using X-plore.
    Thanks for the info. I was going crazy.

  7. Adam says:

    Elias, is this the same thing that hit the Shields when Nvidia upgraded to 11?

  8. Raymond Doyle says:

    Simple solition. Dont buy the product until they fix the issues. Already huge issue with previous version that dont have enough ram. Nine of the fixes have worked for me. So to ask me to buy a new but intentionally crippled device is not going to fly.

  9. gotta hand it to Amazon to leverage the eager customer base to beta test the device without calling it a beta test.

  10. Mike M says:

    This was a pain for KODI on my 2nd Gen 4K Max. I didn’t want to have to re-setup everything, instead I wanted to copy my sources.xml, passwords.xml and keymap.xml from other installs using the old ADB commands. Of course the permissions got in the way.

    Thanks to your instructions, I was able to create a folder on /storage/emulated/0 of my 2nd Gen 4K Max (using shell), copy my XML files there (using ADB), and then after granting them permissions, use Total Commander and Profile Directory (special://profile )in Kodi’s File Manager to copy them into the proper folders.

  11. Ant says:

    The issue is not limited to fire OS 8 on these devices, it is happening on the max 11 too
    I had to reformat my removable storage because when formatted as internal I kept getting the same problem

  12. Jeff says:

    Elias Saba, is this why my mom can’t get subtitles to load, in CinemaHD, on her new 16GB FireTV 4K Max? She tries to play subtitles like she always has on CinemaHD with her Toshiba Fire TV, but she keeps getting an error message that says: Can’t save files on your subtitle folder. Please check write permissions of /storage/emulated/0/Subtitles.

  13. John says:

    Latest update 10/27 version rs8101/1854 appears to resolve this issue. Had problems with DefSquid and X-plore and they are working now

  14. James says:

    I have been marrying usb drives to sticks for years now using remote adb apk partitioning the drive for half internal and half external storage but the new fire os 8 seems to be stopping me from doing that anymore even after doing the update. Any ideas on a workaround for this? TIA

  15. djvj says:

    Still an issue as of 11/29/23. Cannot get write access to the Android data folder on the latest Firestick 4K Max

  16. Chris says:

    Guess this might be the reason Tivi mate may not run

  17. Sam says:

    I’m trying to see if it’s possible to open a class action suite against Google for taking away that file access. Because it was availble then removed. Google did the same thing.. That is removing something we originally had. Rendering what we used it for. Accessing our personal movies through kodi.

  18. Jen says:

    Just found this site. I’m ready to replace my very old Firestick. Very slow but still works after extensive cache cleaning. What’s the latest on copying everything over to a newer stick. Thanks for any info.

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