Android Phones Software Windows

How do I use Nearby Share to transfer files between an Android phone and PC?

use Nearby Share to transfer files
Use Google's Nearby Share to transfers files between Android and Windows

Google has made the process of transferring files between Android devices and Windows PCs far simpler. We can now use Nearby Share for Windows to seamlessly send and receive files and folders between devices using Bluetooth technology. If your files are always on the wrong device or you want to quickly send photos to friends, the Nearby Share could be the perfect solution.

How to setup Nearby Share for Windows

To use Nearby Share, you will need to be running either Windows 10 or Windows 11 (but not ARM versions) and your phone or tablet should be running Android 6 or above. You’ll also need to ensure that your PC has Bluetooth, which shouldn’t be an issue for laptops but if your desktop is lacking have a look at our How do I add Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to my desktop computer?.

Compatible Android devices will already be able to use Nearby Share automatically, no extra software required, but Windows PCs need some free software.

On your Windows PC, head to the Nearby Share for Windows page, clicking Get Started to begin the download. Run the software, agreeing to the prompts that Microsoft presents and then Nearby Share will install. As it’s a Google product, it’ll prompt you to sign in.

Do I need a Google account to use Nearby Share?

No, but the functionality will be reduced if you don’t. In our example screenshots, I’ve logged into a Google account, but I’ll explain the differences.

Screenshot of Google Nearby Share setup

When the Nearby Share app is opened, there’s a couple of tweaks that you can make. The obvious one at the top of the screen allows you to change how your device will be named on other devices using Nearby Share. The sending option is currently fixed, but clicking Receiving, will give you choices over who can use Nearby Share to send data to your devices.

The options are straightforward. If you select Contacts, then Nearby Share will allow people in your contacts list to share files with you. You need to accept the transfers, but you can tweak this control further by deselecting Visible to all contacts and selecting individual contacts to have the permission. If you select Your Devices, then only devices signed in on the same Google account as you used for Nearby Share, will be able to send files. Understandably, both Contacts and Your Devices are not available if you chose not to sign-in to Nearby Share with a Google account.

There are two options that are always present, Everyone and No one. Clicking No one essentially disables the service and clicking Everyone unlocks the door to all comers. Using this mode, you will still need to approve transmissions, unless they’re coming from the same Google account. You can also make the mode permanent or temporary.

All these settings can be easily changed later, so click something and proceed.

How to use Nearby Share to transfer files from my phone to PC?

Once Nearby Share for Windows is setup, head to your Android device. For our demonstration, I’m using a phone and I’m going to transmit a photo.

Screengrab of Google Photos on Android

Nearby Photo works throughout an Android phone, so I opened Google Photos, selected a scintillating image of circuit board, and clicked Share (highlighted in red)

Screengrab of Google Photos on Android using Nearby-Share

Now click Nearby Share (highlighted in red).

Screenshot showing Nearby Share transfer to Windows laptop

Nearby Share will open, display a quick thumbnail of the image and list the devices that I can share with.

Screenshot showing Nearby Share successful transfer to Windows laptop

Simply tap the name of the device with which you wish to share (only one in this example), and the magic will happen.

Why didn’t Nearby Share work?

Yeah, mine didn’t on the first try either. On the phone, tee up the transfer, then click the settings cog in the top-right. This will open the Nearby Share options on your phone. Ensure Device Visibility is switched on as Nearby Share for Windows will fail if it isn’t. If Nearby Share can’t find your laptop, check that your receiving selections are correct. If you’re using Everyone in temporary mode, it’s probably timed out.

How to use Nearby Share to transfer files from my PC to my phone?

To transfer files from a PC to a phone, open the Windows app and either click Select Files or Select Folders to specify which files you’d like to send. You can also drag the files to the app.

Screenshot showing Nearby Share app on Windows 11

For this example, I’m going to send a single file to the phone. In the list of Nearby devices, select the one to receive the files (there is only one in our example).

Can Nearby Share transfer multiple files?

Yes. Just select what the files that you wish to share, and they’ll be queued for transmission. Nearby Share for Windows also works with folders and multiple folders.

Android phone screenshot showing Nearby Share randomly showing a PIN

This is a new release by Google and I have found a few quirks. Occasionally, the names of the devices are changed. That’s a problem if a bunch of users are together as it would be difficult to spot the correct recipient. Also, despite my devices being on the same account, there were times when I was asked to PIN approve a transfer. Not a show-stopping problem, but the randomness of its appearance suggests that there may be a few gremlins running around. However, Nearby Share is easy to use and simple to set up. If you need to quickly ping a few files around to various devices, it’s a great solution.

How do I transfer Android photos to a Mac?

About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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