Windows 11 introduced the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA). WSA is essentially a native, built-in Android emulator that allows you to use Android apps on Windows 11. Managing files between Windows 11 and WSA isn’t straightforward, and this post will help you do that, specifically, to transfer (copy) files between Windows 11 and WSA.
You can use Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to copy files between Windows 11 and WSA. It takes a few minutes to set up, and the same method can be applied to send files between Windows 11 and your Android phone.
Why you need to transfer files between WSA and Windows 11
There are many use cases for transferring files between Windows Subsystem for Android and Windows 11, and these are some of them:
- Uploading a file from your PC to an Android app without opening your Android phone.
- Downloading a file using an Android app from the WSA and use the downloaded file on your PC.
What you’ll need
This post assumes you have already set up Windows Subsystem for Android on your Windows 11 PC. If you already have it set up, then you have:
- Android SDK Platform-Tools installed on your Windows 11 PC. It allows you to use the ADB command line that will connect your PC with Windows Subsystem for Android.
- Windows Subsystem for Android installed with Developer mode enabled.
- Internet connection.
- The path for the Android SDK Platform-Tools directory on your PC and for the files you want to copy.
- The IP address for the Windows Subsystem for Android. It is used by the ADB command to connect your PC to the Windows Subsystem for Android.
How to copy files between Windows 11 and Windows Subsystem for Android
You can copy files from Windows 11 to Windows Subsystem for Android using the ADB command-line tool. This post provides you with the sample command lines, and you only need to change the path of the files used as examples.
Use the ADB command-line tool
Open the directory/folder for the Android SDK Platform-Tools. Ensure you open the subfolder that shows the adb.exe. Copy the path for that folder, and save it somewhere else like Notepad for easier use later.
Open the Windows Subsystem for Android. You can search the app through the Start menu.
Open Files. Then, click the Refresh button to show the IP address for the Windows Subsystem for Android. Click Copy to save it for later use. Ensure the Developer mode is also enabled. Read this if it says the IP address is unavailable.
Now, open the Command Prompt. You can also search for it through the Start menu.
Enter this line of code:
CD [Platform-Tools path]
The command line allows the Command Prompt to be able to use the Platform-Tools command-line tools. Ensure the path is the one showing the adb.exe.
Now that you can use the Platform-Tools command-line tools on Command Prompt, you can connect to the Windows Subsystem for Android using the IP address you have copied earlier.
RELATED: How To Install iCloud on Windows 11
Connect to the Windows Subsystem for Android
- You have opened the Windows Subsystem for Android.
- You have opened the Files.
You might also want to be aware of VPN/DNS usage, as it affects the internet connection that Windows Subsystem for Android uses.
Let’s go back to the Command Prompt. Enter this command line:
adb connect [IP address]
Once you press Enter, your PC will try to connect to Windows Subsystem for Android. You’ll see a message saying “connected to [IP address]” if it’s connected.
How to copy files from Windows 11 to Windows Subsystem for Android
You should now copy the path for the file you want to copy from Windows 11. You’ll be using the
push command line for ADB that allows you to copy files from your PC to your Android device or Windows Subsystem for Android.
Enter the path to this command line:
adb push [file path from Windows 11] [Android local path]
Here’s an example of what it should look like:
adb push C:\Users\Don\Downloads\alexander-london-mJaD10XeD7w-unsplash.jpg /storage/emulated/0/Download/
I try to copy a JPG image from my PC’s Downloads folder to Windows Subsystem for Android’s Download folder. The local path for Android you can use is /storage/emulated/0/.
Press Enter after entering the line of code. You should see a message saying “file pushed, 0 skipped” followed by its transfer speed.
Now, check the Files on the Windows Subsystem for Android, and you should see the copied file.
How to copy files from the Windows Subsystem for Android to Windows 11
Copying files from the Windows Subsystem for Android to your Windows 11 PC can be done using the
pull command line for ADB. The command line structure is slightly different, and you only need to switch the Windows 11’s path and WSA’s path besides replacing
Here’s the command line:
adb pull [Windows Subsystem for Android’s path] [Windows 11’s path for a folder]
Here’s the example:
adb pull /storage/emulated/0/Download/alexander-london-mJaD10XeD7w-unsplash.jpg C:\Users\Don\Videos\
I try to copy back the file I have copied earlier to the WSA, which is a JPG image, to another folder on my Windows 11 PC. As mentioned earlier, ensure you have connected to the WSA, and if you haven’t, read the previous tutorial above.
Enter the command line. You should see the file has been pulled, which means copied from the WSA to your PC.
Check the destination folder you put in the command line, and you should see the file has been pasted to your PC.
With Windows Subsystem for Android, you can now use Android apps on your PC, including the local storage on the WSA. One of the ways to access your Windows 11 files on the WSA is by copying and pasting using the
pull ADB command line.