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"'