Stop Android File Transfer application auto-starting on OS X

TL;DR: If you’re not interested in following the steps one by one, jump straight to the command line solution.

If you’ve installed the Android File Transfer application for OS X, you’ll find it automatically starts each time you connect your Android device to your Mac. This behaviour is fine if you only connect your Android device to your Mac for the purpose of transferring files, but it becomes a bit of a nuisance when you just want to charge your device or use it for development purposes.

There’s no setting within the app to disable auto-starting so you need to manually disable the agent that ‘listens’ for Android device connections. Here’s how to do that.

  • Open Activity Monitor and quit the ‘Android File Transfer Agent’ process.
  • Open the Applications directory within Finder.
  • Ctrl-click (or right-click) ‘Android File’ and select ‘Show Package Contents’.
  • Drill down into the ‘Contents/Resources’ directory.
  • Rename ‘Android File Transfer’ to something like ‘Android File Transfer Agent’.
  • Navigate to the ‘~/Library/Application Support/Google/Android File Transfer’ directory in Finder (you may need to hold down ‘alt’ within Finder’s ‘Go’ menu to see ‘Library’).
  • Again, rename ‘Android File Transfer’ to something like ‘Android File Transfer Agent’.

Edit (8th January 2013): The above worked well for me until some time around the start of the new year, probably tied in with my Mac updating to OS X Mavericks. Now, an additional step is required to keep the agent from auto-starting, and is included in the following instructions.

  • Open the Users & Groups panel in System Preferences, and remove any entry for ‘Android File Transfer Agent’ in your user’s ‘Login Items’.

Done! You can still manually start the Android File Transfer application (as you would for any other application) but now there’s no more auto-starting.

If you want to re-enable auto-starting at a later date, simply rename the two app files back to their original names and manually start the Android File Transfer application to kick start the agent again.

If you’re feeling especially geeky, you could achieve the same thing from the command line. Here’s a not-so-pretty one liner that will kill the agent process if it’s running, rename the two agent .app files, and remove the agent from your user’s ‘Login Items’.

PID=$(ps -fe | grep "[A]ndroid File Transfer Agent" | awk '{print $2}'); if [[ -n $PID ]]; then kill $PID; fi; mv "/Applications/Android File File Transfer" "/Applications/Android File File Transfer Agent"; mv "${HOME}/Library/Application Support/Google/Android File Transfer/Android File Transfer" "${HOME}/Library/Application Support/Google/Android File Transfer/Android File Transfer Agent"; osascript -e 'tell application "System Events" to delete every login item whose name is "Android File Transfer Agent"'

49 thoughts on “Stop Android File Transfer application auto-starting on OS X”

  1. Thanks! Just what I needed. I usually watch TV shows in the evening on my MBP and plug in my phone to charge it. Android File Transfer annoyingly opens TWICE every time I plug in my phone, switching my screen from what I’m trying to watch. I copy-pasted this script into the Terminal and voila! no more AFT automatically starting when I just want to charge my phone!

    1. Exactly, put it in a TLDR section at the top of the article! 🙂

      I followed the long instructions which worked fine though, thanks!

  2. Worked like a charm. Thanks for posting! And yes, you need to put the not-so-pretty one liner at the top of the list.

  3. I was repeatedly uninstalling the app because it auto-starting all the time drove me crazy. Very happy you found a way to disable it.

  4. Thanks! It’s way easier to just use the Terminal command rather than go through all the steps. Even for non-geeks! Again, thanks.

  5. Can you please send instructions for undoing the command line you provide above? It works perfectly in that it prevents Android File Transfer from starting automatically, but now when I stop the Faveset Klink software I get an “adb quit unexpectedly” error. I uninstalled Android File Transfer and that did not fix the problem. Thanks for your help.

    1. Since posting my comment, I found a “Persist ADB On Exit” setting on Faveset Klink that seems to solve the problem.

  6. Legend!!! Thanks a lot – this was driving me mad!

    Oh btw maybe add a link to the one liner at the top of the page (I bet a lot of the traffic to this page are android devs that would appreciate your awesome little snippet).

  7. Wouldn’t it be easier to just

    `launchctl remove`

    well you would have to do that again each time there is a software update but that’s alright I guess.

    Best regards

  8. An even simpler solution: open “Android File” and stop the process “Android File Transfer Agent”.

    A practical way to do this: Edit a file named, say “fandroid”
    Contents of this file:

    “open /Applications/Android\ File\
    sudo killall ‘Android File Transfer Agent”

    Amend this if the executable is elsewhere, obviously. Make this fandroid file executable (“chmod +x fandroid”), make sure it’s location is in your search path, and thereafter start it from the terminal: fandroid.

    Or put a link in a handy executables folder, say on the dock, and bob’s your uncle: Click and go – android folders open in Finder when it’s clicked.
    And only if it’s clicked.
    Bloomin’ developers. What a pain in the neck.

  9. This is so amazingly helpful. Android file transfer is so annoying I use my phone for tethering internet to my computer for 4+ hours a day and this thing would pop up twice every time i jiggled the cord. This is so tremendously helpful to me saving me countless annoying moments.

  10. Still working after all these years. Thanks for saving the reading time with the one-liner – sweet! Wish all my tech headaches were solved so quickly 🙂

  11. Thank you MonkeyBird.

    Actually, I did all your steps except the one that renaming the application! Because I did not find the application under the ~/contents/resources’s directory. So, I escaped this step. Now everything is fine.


  12. Thanks so much, this still works today with a small change, the Android File Transfer is under `Contents/Helpers` at least in my machine which is running High Sierra.

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