The state of MTP on Mac OS X (as required for ICS/GNex)

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wanderfowl

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2011
195
33
So, this isn't about the Galaxy Nexus per-se, but I know many of you are scared of the change to MTP and the interaction with the computer, especially those of you coming from Gingerbread directly through to the Galaxy Nexus.

I've had a Motorola Xoom (which doesn't support USB mass storage mode) for a while. Simply put, there is _no_ native support for MTP in OS X (10.7 or lower). If you plug your Galaxy Nexus into your Mac, nothing will happen at all. OS X won't see it, DoubleTwist doesn't see it, Songbird won't and iTunes (obviously) won't see it. As far as I know, there's no way of enabling your Mac to see the device natively, and all of the software designed for other MTP devices that I've tried doesn't work.

In fact, the only way your Mac will ever see it is if you download Google's Android File Helper software. This program, once installed, runs in the background, and whenever you plug in your Honeycomb (or ICS) device, it pops up a window showing the contents of the phone's memory. From here (and only from that window), you can pull files from the phone/tablet or put them onto it.

This works acceptably, but with a few hangups. First, unlike a normal finder window, only one transfer can occur at once, and there's no queueing. So, if you drop one folder on to copy, you're not able to move anything else onto or off of the card until it's finished. Also, large transfers (~10 GB) don't work particularly reliably, and may fail partway through, so you may consider dragging files in in groups. Finally, and most frustratingly, it will often not be up to date with what files are on the device, especially if you've recently deleted them. So, folders or files may still show up that you've recently deleted. Maybe this has been changed in ICS (I hope so!), but that's my experience.

That's your primary way on or off the device. I've had limited success using DDMS for transferring files on and off of the device, and although it's clunky and requires USB debugging mode, it's the most reliable way I've found for transfers that fail in the Transfer client. In practice, I'd recommend using something like SwiFTP to copy (smaller) files to and from your device, and avoiding the hassle when you can.

In short, you definitely CAN use OS X to transfer files onto and off of your Galaxy Nexus, but it's not as easy as it was for Gingerbread Devices, and tools like DoubleTwist and Songbird can no longer access your device at all (in their current versions). You can get around this using AirSync for DoubleTwist to load music, or doing so manually, but it's kludgey. It's unlikely that Apple will choose to support MTP in future versions of OS X (it's a Microsoft protocol now used mostly by Android), but hopefully Google will improve the tool as time goes on.

Sorry if this is all well known and obvious, but if you were on the fence about the GNex because of this, don't be. The MTP switch is annoying, but nothing showstopping, even for OS X. Just FYI.
 
Last edited:

Jebus99

Senior Member
Jun 4, 2011
139
25
I've had a Motorola Xoom (which doesn't support USB host mode) for a while.

Which doesn't have USB Mass Storage mode (not USB Host - this is USB OTG where you can plug in other USB peripherals into the Xoom). Sorry just a pet peeve watching people confuse the two.

Thanks for an informative post. MTP looks like it is going to cause headaches to every non-Windows device by the looks of it. Ironic for a Linux based device ; ).
 

wanderfowl

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2011
195
33
Which doesn't have USB Mass Storage mode (not USB Host - this is USB OTG where you can plug in other USB peripherals into the Xoom). Sorry just a pet peeve watching people confuse the two.

Thanks for an informative post. MTP looks like it is going to cause headaches to every non-Windows device by the looks of it. Ironic for a Linux based device ; ).

Whoops! Edited :)
 

martonikaj

Senior Member
Nov 20, 2010
7,868
1,670
Seattle, WA
Thanks for the info. I remember using the app on my MacBook when I had the Xoom. I didn't mind it too much, but it was a tad annoying having to open the app rather than just pop open 'finder' and go. FWIW it DID work just fine for my couple months with the Xoom.
 

wanderfowl

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2011
195
33
Thanks for the info. I remember using the app on my MacBook when I had the Xoom. I didn't mind it too much, but it was a tad annoying having to open the app rather than just pop open 'finder' and go. FWIW it DID work just fine for my couple months with the Xoom.

It works fine to the internal storage. Maybe I should've said explicitly that I had more issues using the Android File Transfer app with the SD Card in the Xoom.
 

eksasol

Senior Member
Nov 22, 2009
3,143
854
I'm glad Google gave this a thought, now they should make one for linux too, but they probably won't.
iTunes (obviously) won't see it.
My post is pointless, but hell will freeze over before iTunes recognizes a Samsung device, lol. If it wasn't for laws and standard, they wouldn't allow their PC to recognize Samsung devices either.
 
Last edited:

wanderfowl

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2011
195
33
I'm glad Google gave this a thought, now they should make one for linux too, but they probably won't.

That's the nice part about Linux. The people working on Linux have an active incentive to add this functionality, as it improves the experience. With OS X, they have an active (marketing) reason to not add it, anti-competitive behavior. Don't give up hope :)
 

blunden

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2009
991
319
It's unlikely that Apple will choose to support MTP in future versions of OS X (it's a Microsoft protocol now used mostly by Android), but hopefully Google will improve the tool as time goes on.
It's a protocol native to the USB standard since 2008 so if Apple want to be standards compliant they should implement it. There are lots of other devices that use it as well.
 

TonyHoyle

Senior Member
Mar 2, 2009
552
94
Manchester
As far as I know, there's no way of enabling your Mac to see the device natively, and all of the software designed for other MTP devices that I've tried doesn't work.

Those apps probably just need an update to libmtp.. for some reason that library has the device ID of every device it supports hardcoded in, rather than working out whether a device supports mtp in other ways as things like windows do.

If anyone has ported mtpfs to OSX you should be able to get that going (will probably do that myself when I get time.. Android File Transfer is OK but a bit quirky).
 

wanderfowl

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2011
195
33
It's a protocol native to the USB standard since 2008 so if Apple want to be standards compliant they should implement it. There are lots of other devices that use it as well.

Trust me, I'm not defending it, but I can't imagine Apple in its current state implementing a change which would help in supporting a competitor's product (especially Android) just to be open and compliant. Given how willing Apple as a company is to cut off its nose to spite its face, I doubt that they'll rush to help their users here. Prove me wrong, Apple.
 

wanderfowl

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2011
195
33
Those apps probably just need an update to libmtp.. for some reason that library has the device ID of every device it supports hardcoded in, rather than working out whether a device supports mtp in other ways as things like windows do.

If anyone has ported mtpfs to OSX you should be able to get that going (will probably do that myself when I get time.. Android File Transfer is OK but a bit quirky).


I've tried working with the existing mtpfs ports, but wasn't able to get very far at all. I'm hoping that ICS will spur people to develop further on that, maybe pulling it into MacFUSE.
 

blunden

Senior Member
Jun 11, 2009
991
319
Trust me, I'm not defending it, but I can't imagine Apple in its current state implementing a change which would help in supporting a competitor's product (especially Android) just to be open and compliant. Given how willing Apple as a company is to cut off its nose to spite its face, I doubt that they'll rush to help their users here. Prove me wrong, Apple.
You certainly have a point and is the primary reason I dispise Apple as a company.

My main point was that it's not to be considered a "Microsoft protocol" as it's been part of the USB standard for years now. Nothing is stopping any OS from implementing it and as a standard they really should as it brings some nice improvements like not requiring the OS on the PC to have support for the filesystem used on the device. Considering FAT32 and exFAT are basically the only filesystems that work in all major OSes, the former being old and having severe limitations and the latter requiring a license it's nice to be able to use something like ext2/3/4 or any other filesystem of choice and still maintain compability.
 

vash1053

Senior Member
Oct 21, 2010
212
38
Apple hasn't typically been particularly resistant to implementing standards and protocols used to communicate with 3rd party devices. Also, the major force behind Apple's resistance to just about everything is gone now... We'll see if they continue the trend without him.
 

wanderfowl

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2011
195
33
So I've just gotten my VZW Gnex, and unfortunately, Android file transfer seems to have the same problems with not refreshing the files in the folder as it did on the Xoom.

That said, if you're trying to get into a given folder and your Android File Transfer can't see the contents (or the folder itself), just reboot the phone and when it comes back up, the new folder should be there and right as rain.
 

JRT Studio

Member
Apr 3, 2011
36
12
OS X won't see it, DoubleTwist doesn't see it, Songbird won't and iTunes (obviously) won't see it.

If syncing with iTunes is your goal, you left out iSyncr. Our app can sync Android 3.0 and 4.0 devices with iTunes on a Mac over USB (and WiFi). If your Android device is supported by Android File Transfer, it is supported by iSyncr.

As always, you can shoot me an email if you are having an issue with this.

-Justin
 
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datboiro

Member
Jul 6, 2007
25
3
I seem to be having a new issue. All of a sudden, I can't sync anything to my XOOM. I had to unlock, and re-unroot it to install ICS on it. I don't know why, but everytime I begin a transfer to my XOOM Android File Transfer instantly says that my my device is locked and I need unlock the screen and/or it can't access the media storage device. It's really frustrating. I can't push the SU.zip bc it gets lost in between the "Ext SD Card" and the "Internal SD Card." Long story short... my Xoom boots into ICS and runs perfectly fine, but I can't finish the root process. Any help?!
 

crookone10

Senior Member
Nov 20, 2011
73
1
Android File Transfer supports files up to 4gb in size. This may be why you are having trouble transferring files that are 10 gb. At least this is the case in OS X Lion

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using xda premium
 

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    So, this isn't about the Galaxy Nexus per-se, but I know many of you are scared of the change to MTP and the interaction with the computer, especially those of you coming from Gingerbread directly through to the Galaxy Nexus.

    I've had a Motorola Xoom (which doesn't support USB mass storage mode) for a while. Simply put, there is _no_ native support for MTP in OS X (10.7 or lower). If you plug your Galaxy Nexus into your Mac, nothing will happen at all. OS X won't see it, DoubleTwist doesn't see it, Songbird won't and iTunes (obviously) won't see it. As far as I know, there's no way of enabling your Mac to see the device natively, and all of the software designed for other MTP devices that I've tried doesn't work.

    In fact, the only way your Mac will ever see it is if you download Google's Android File Helper software. This program, once installed, runs in the background, and whenever you plug in your Honeycomb (or ICS) device, it pops up a window showing the contents of the phone's memory. From here (and only from that window), you can pull files from the phone/tablet or put them onto it.

    This works acceptably, but with a few hangups. First, unlike a normal finder window, only one transfer can occur at once, and there's no queueing. So, if you drop one folder on to copy, you're not able to move anything else onto or off of the card until it's finished. Also, large transfers (~10 GB) don't work particularly reliably, and may fail partway through, so you may consider dragging files in in groups. Finally, and most frustratingly, it will often not be up to date with what files are on the device, especially if you've recently deleted them. So, folders or files may still show up that you've recently deleted. Maybe this has been changed in ICS (I hope so!), but that's my experience.

    That's your primary way on or off the device. I've had limited success using DDMS for transferring files on and off of the device, and although it's clunky and requires USB debugging mode, it's the most reliable way I've found for transfers that fail in the Transfer client. In practice, I'd recommend using something like SwiFTP to copy (smaller) files to and from your device, and avoiding the hassle when you can.

    In short, you definitely CAN use OS X to transfer files onto and off of your Galaxy Nexus, but it's not as easy as it was for Gingerbread Devices, and tools like DoubleTwist and Songbird can no longer access your device at all (in their current versions). You can get around this using AirSync for DoubleTwist to load music, or doing so manually, but it's kludgey. It's unlikely that Apple will choose to support MTP in future versions of OS X (it's a Microsoft protocol now used mostly by Android), but hopefully Google will improve the tool as time goes on.

    Sorry if this is all well known and obvious, but if you were on the fence about the GNex because of this, don't be. The MTP switch is annoying, but nothing showstopping, even for OS X. Just FYI.
    2
    Trust me, I'm not defending it, but I can't imagine Apple in its current state implementing a change which would help in supporting a competitor's product (especially Android) just to be open and compliant. Given how willing Apple as a company is to cut off its nose to spite its face, I doubt that they'll rush to help their users here. Prove me wrong, Apple.
    You certainly have a point and is the primary reason I dispise Apple as a company.

    My main point was that it's not to be considered a "Microsoft protocol" as it's been part of the USB standard for years now. Nothing is stopping any OS from implementing it and as a standard they really should as it brings some nice improvements like not requiring the OS on the PC to have support for the filesystem used on the device. Considering FAT32 and exFAT are basically the only filesystems that work in all major OSes, the former being old and having severe limitations and the latter requiring a license it's nice to be able to use something like ext2/3/4 or any other filesystem of choice and still maintain compability.
    2
    MacPorts mtpfs support

    I got mtpfs to compile too but I am seeing all kinds of error when I run it.
    I either get "Unable to open raw device 32767" or "Segmentation fault: 11". One time it went all the way to "Listing File information" but it stoped there.
    Did you do anything to mtpfs besides modifying sysfs.h include line and compiling with CFLAGS="-DFUSE_USE_VERSION=25"?

    MacPorts now support the mtpfs mounter... I never managed myself to get it to compile from the developer, even after including the MacPorts patch...

    but it installs well using the usual command
    $ sudo port install mtpfs

    and then you need to do some magic ;) to get your tablet mounted
    by creating a folder in media calling it say ACER500

    and do:

    mtpfs /media/ACER500

    this assumes you installed libmtp with
    $ sudo port install libmtp

    or consolidated both in

    $ sudo port install libmtp mtpfs

    it also installs glib2 as a dependency...

    You might get like me a fuse mount (yes you need fuse too)
    which will have three items:
    Internal storage, Playlist, and SD Card

    the only thing, it is not stable, and keeps on losing connection, so some more work is needed to make it robust to be usable... but a step in the right direction...
    1
    OS X won't see it, DoubleTwist doesn't see it, Songbird won't and iTunes (obviously) won't see it.

    If syncing with iTunes is your goal, you left out iSyncr. Our app can sync Android 3.0 and 4.0 devices with iTunes on a Mac over USB (and WiFi). If your Android device is supported by Android File Transfer, it is supported by iSyncr.

    As always, you can shoot me an email if you are having an issue with this.

    -Justin
    1
    Hello everyone.
    I got my GNexus 2 day ago, and i'm a mac user... So i download and installed "Android File Tranfer", but it recognize my phone only if usb debugging is off. Is that normal?
    I'm going to try to root it with the Mac Tool, but i'm scared of this, probably, little problem...

    Ya its normal. Don't use a tool kit. Use adb. Here's a video I made with my old nexus s 4g. Its the same prosses for the galaxy nexus. Just follow the instruction and u are good to go. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP9ZDWmbLVM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using xda premium