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How to Use a USB Drive with the Nexus 7

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The Nexus 7 tablet comes up short on storage, but with a cable and free apps it’s possible to connect a USB drive to the Nexus 7 for more storage.

This solution isn’t for everyone. It requires a rooted Nexus 7, a cable that hangs off the edge and apps to make the process work. If you haven’t purchased a Nexus 7, I still recommend the 16GB version, but if you need storage to take movies on a flight or road trip this is an option to have on hand.

This same cable will let you use an Xbox 36o controller to play games on the Nexus 7 tablet.

USB drive and Nexus 7

Connect a USB drive to the Nexus 7 for more storage.

How to Use a USB Drive with the Nexus 7

This solution isn’t perfect, but it works 90% of the time for me, and allows me to watch movies and TV shows that wouldn’t otherwise fit on my Nexus 7 tablet.

What You’ll Need

You can find the cable at many online retailers, but the link below is for Amazon with Prime Shipping.

You’ll also want to put your movies and TV shows in the right format with an app like SmartConverter on Mac.

First you must root the Nexus 7 tablet. I suggest Rooting and Unlocking the Nexus 7 with our guide. The process is straight forward and easy to do. Unlocking the Nexus 7 will wipe the device, so be sure to back up important information before you start.

StickMount Nexus 7

Stickmount mounts USB drives to the Nexus 7.

Install the Stickmount app from the Google Play store. This app makes the USB drive show up in Android file explorers. After installing it, plug in a USB drive and grant the app superuser permissions.

USB drive on Nexus 7

THe USB drive shows up in a special folder on the Nexus 7.

Install the ES FileExplorer app, or your preferred Android file explorer. This allows you to find the USB drive an open files on the tablet.

To find the drive, go to sdcard/usbStorage/sda1/

USB Drive Nexus 7

Contents of the USB drive on the Nexus 7.

This folder will show the contents of the USB drive. From here, tap on a file to open it in the corresponding app.

Game of Thrones USB Nexus 7

Watching a movie from the USB drive on the Nexus 7.

I was able to open almost any movie file, but I not all files played well. I recommend using SmartConverter on Mac or a similar tool to convert the files for an Android tablet to play without stuttering.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

17 Comments

  1. gorby

    08/01/2012 at 6:43 am

    Having a dongle plus card reader isnt that encumbering, especially when you consider the size difference between the devices, overall Id say the nexus is way more portable than the ipad.
    My nexus is pretty much a complete replacement for my old asus netbook that was running ubuntu. My main reason for upgrade was my netbook didnt have enough grunt to process the raw files from my DSLR. My nexus does this with aplomb, despite needing to be rooted to get the job done. Space issues for me also seem moot. If im going to be playing movies, it will be highly compressed stuff, I have a brick laptop if i want something truly HD. That leaves the rest of the space for apps and digital photos, plenty for me.
    Would still love some version of android that had apps that didnt autolaunch when they wanted… seems this is the default design decision for everything these days and it annoys the hell outa me…

    • Indeed

      09/05/2012 at 9:27 pm

      I like the word “aplomb.”

  2. Charles Martell

    08/01/2012 at 3:46 pm

    Just wondering if a similar setup would work on my ICS Rooted HP Touchpad, which does not have to a microSd card slot.

  3. Robin

    08/03/2012 at 6:16 pm

    You saved my day. I’m a Noob who wanted to lug along all my movies (it’s astonishing how many films you can get on a 32 gb microSD card). I had completed everything else – rooting, stickmount, bought cable… but for the last thing – the file explorer. Thanks so much for pointing the way.

  4. Ratib

    08/05/2012 at 7:27 am

    Sir is it possible to use USB WiMAX modem in nexus7.thanx

    • Gutemberg

      08/13/2012 at 6:55 pm

      Is there a way to work a 3g modem on the nexus?

  5. Leenzkay

    08/18/2012 at 6:16 am

    This is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much!

  6. Matt Dawson

    09/02/2012 at 12:33 am

    I’m sure this works, but Nexus Media Importer on Google Play removes the need to root and doesn’t cost much. Might be worth a follow up article? Also works with the OTG cable like the technique mentioned above.

    • Ngkala

      10/02/2012 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks for the heads up – the nexus media importer is perfect

  7. Jean-Francois Messier

    09/11/2012 at 10:22 am

    StickMount does not seem to recognize anything. Whether I connect the device while StickMount is running or before starting it, it does not see anything. I tried different cables, abd I can’t seem to make it working. Anything I should look at ? Do we have an actual pinout of the cable. I don’t mind cutting two cables and reconnecting the ends manually, I have several of those cables.

    • Valenrotpunk

      11/11/2012 at 7:43 am

      I have the same problem too. Have you solved it? If yes, could you let me how you did it?

      • Jean-Fracois messier

        11/11/2012 at 9:21 am

        With this cable I got through Amazon, it works fine, and so I ordered three more of those. On the first order, another offer appeared fro adapters from USB mini or Micro to USB female. Was only fe bucks, amd was giving me the same female end as the OTA cable, but those did not work. Of course, your tablet should also be rooted.

    • Mu

      04/18/2013 at 11:03 am

      I have the same problem with you. Have you fixed this yet?

      • Jean-Francois Messier

        04/18/2013 at 11:08 am

        Something to mention: My tablet and devices are all rooted ones. I am not sure, but I think that some of those USB mounting utilities required that your device be rooted.

  8. ep

    09/29/2012 at 4:15 am

    took @Matt’s advice and it works great! thx :)

  9. Bill Gates

    10/25/2012 at 3:49 pm

    You need to head into the folder labelled as ‘sdcard,’ and scroll down until you reach a folder within called ‘USB storage.’ It is within this folder you will find the files and folders contained on your USB drive

  10. Juan

    01/16/2013 at 7:37 pm

    Got mine working and reading files from the USB stick, but I cannot write to the USB stick even though it shows up as drw in details. Can you write to the USB stick? If so how did you do it?

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