Android File Transfer – Magic Begone!

I had installed the Android File Transfer app in order to make it easy to load music onto my Android phone. I didn’t realize that this app doesn’t behave like a typical Mac app. It includes an agent helper app, a daemon really, that gets started at login and monitors for Android USB connected devices. I was unaware of this for some time and generally it does not cause problems. However when I wanted to reflash my Nexus 7 tablet I ran into problems with the File Transfer Agent competing with the Android Platform Tools ADB program for control of the device.

My preference for utilities on my Mac is for them to not run until I activate them explicitly. Yes it looks swell to have a program pop up when I plug in the USB device, but I would prefer to manually launch it. I don’t like magic…

At first I was inclined to just remove the app and knowing that an app like this can leave messy cruft behind, I was not going to just drag it into the trash. So I searched for solutions. Many of the search hits were just marketing for generic app removal and cleaner utilities. You can believe in them if you like but I don’t. But there was one hit that suggested that the Android File Transfer app could be made less obnoxious by some selective file pruning. Read it here, it’s a good read. There is one caveat – the post was written in 2012 and things have changed in 2018. The agent app is no longer in the Resources folder, it is in the Helpers folder.

So now I’m thinking that it’s not a bad app as long as I can control when it comes and goes. Let’s just kill the magic.

What I Did

Following the instructions in the above mentioned page, I did the following:

  • Kill any running copies of the Android File Transfer Agent
  • Edit my User settings in System Preferences to remove Android File Transfer Agentfrom the Login Items list
  • Trash the copy of Android File Transfer Agent.app found in ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Android File Transfer/ folder.
  • Rename the copy of Android File Transfer Agent.app found within the application package located at /Applications/Android\ File\ Transfer.app/Contents/Helpers

At this point the de-mystified, unbewitched and disenchanted application should only run when I explicitly launch it and it should go away when I quit it.

Did It Work?

Now, when I plug in my Nexus 7 I no longer get the file transfer app window and there is no trace of the agent in the activity monitor. When I launch the app from Launchpad the window opens as expected. Now that it is running the file transfer app shows up in the activity monitor but the agent does not. When I quit the app, the window closes, the app disappears from the activity monitor and the agent is nowhere to be found.

Success!

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