Find files on your smartphone or tablet quickly with NirSoft's MobileFileSearch

Nov 20, 2019
Software, Windows software

NirSoft has released a new freeware tool which helps Windows users to search for files and folders in their USB-connected MTP devices.

MTP stands for media tranfer protocol; it is commonly used by smartphones and tablets when they are connected to desktop computers.

Tip: check out Nirsoft's new pre-release software section to test tools before official release.

NirSoft MobileFileSearch interface

You may have seen the term when you plug in a phone to your computer. The notification shade may say "Charging via USB, touch for more options." If you do, MTP is one of the available options that you may select.

I connect my phone(s) to my computer frequently to transfer files, take backups or perform other operations. One of the issues that users may run into is that the phone's directory structure is quite complex and that it is not always clear where specific files, say photos and videos you took, are located.

For example, you want to copy some images from the phone. Depending on the application and type, these may be in different folders. Screenshots are placed in a different folder than photos taken with the camera, and images from third-party applications like Telegram or WhatsApp are also in other folders. Locations may also depend on the Android version and firmware that is being used.

Searching through the files is quite a difficult task as well. MobileFileSearch simplifies this task. Connect your phone or tablet to your computer using a USB cable, and enable the file transfer protocol.

To use the program, download and extract the archive, and run the executable. The program opens two windows by default: MobileFileSearch and Search Options. The latter is the foreground Window and has options that you need to select for performing a search.

The first thing to do is to select the device that the program has to search but only if you have more than one MTP device connected to the computer. The default option is to search in all devices at the same time. Use the drop-down menu to specify the one you want to use and the device's name will appear in the other drop-down menu on the right.

The Base Folders option is useful if you want to search inside a specific folder, but you'll have to input the full path of the folder. You can get the path using Explorer or another file manager. What if you don't know where to find the folder? Leave the Base Folders field empty and the program will search the entire device.

Subfolders Depth lets you set how many sub-folder levels the program should parse to find your files. You can set it from between 0-15 or leave it at infinite. The Wildcards option is the one you use on Windows to search for all files of a specific format like *.txt, *.jpg, or *.mp3. The next setting allows you to define the minimum file size to look for, say 1KB or 20MB or 500GB. You can restrict the search by setting a maximum File size limit as well.

You can narrow down the search further by selecting the Created time and Modified time; these are handy if you are looking for files created at a specific time. For e.g. if you're looking for photos which you took during your vacation, set the date to when you were away and MobileFileSearch should list the files which were created at the defined time.

The Find Files or Find Folders options do exactly what they're named after.

Find files on your smartphone or tablet quickly with NirSoft's MobileFileSearch

Hit the "Start Search" button to perform the search. Now, switch to the MobileFileSearch window and it should list the relevant results.

Tip: You can close the search window after the process has begun. To stop the search, hit the Stop button in the top left corner of the MobileFileSearch window.

The default view displays lots of columns including the file name, full path, object name, object id, created time, modified time, authored time, file extension, and file size. It also displays some advanced information such as Allow Delete, System, Hidden, DRM Protected, Device Name, and Device ID.

NirSoft MobileFileSearch

Tip: You can disable any of the columns from the View menu and sort the listing with a click on a column header.

Copy and delete files

You can select one or more (or all) of the files from the search results to perform the following actions.

  • Edit > Copy selected items to clipboard.
  • File > Copy selected files to > choose a destination folder. You can set it to skip the file copy if the file already exists, or overwrite the file, or copy it using a new file name.
  • File > Delete selected files.

Selecting a file and clicking on the file menu allows you to open the file or select the "Open with" option to choose which program you want to open the file with. You can view an individual file's properties by using the File menu, and the information is displayed in a small pop-up window.

Find tool

The Edit menu has a Find tool (the basic Windows Ctrl + F tool), which you can use to type the name of a file and it locates the corresponding file from the search results.


The HTML menu has two report options, one for the selected files, and one for all files. There is a similar option in the File menu called "Export", which you can use to save the properties of the selected files, in a text document.

NirSoft MobileFileSearch context menu

These options are also available via the right-click context menu.

Closing Words

MobileFileSearch, like all NirSoft applications is portable. The program is compatible with Windows Vista and above, and supports 32-bit and 64-bit computers. Aside from the search options, I really like the program's reports and copy to folder options which can save quite a bit of time.

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  1. Sunny Kumar said on December 4, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    That is nice that we open files on our smartphone or tablet quickly with NirSoft’s ,very simple , very usefull .

  2. ULBoom said on November 21, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Nir Sofer for King of the Universe!

    Another brilliant release by Nirsoft, so simple, so useful. When I first tried to link my laptop and android phone, after stumbling around downloading gigabytes of SDK files, finding the right USB cable and playing tricks on both devices for hours, they finally talked to each other. What a mess!

    The process is definitely easier these days. FWIW, a very simple android file manager with a clear GUI that just works, Nirsoft style, is Simple Mobile Tools File Manger

    From FDroid:

  3. Martin Brinkmann said on November 21, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Just tested it and it did work fine. It may not be that useful to experienced users who know where to find files on their devices, but it may be great for users who have troubles locating those.

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