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How to Manage Your Android Device from Windows with SnapPea

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Android users have not been dealt a great hand when it comes managing their devices from Windows. Different manufacturers provide device management tools ranging from the mediocre to the just plain bad – Kies, I’m looking at you. But I have discovered SnapPea, one of the easiest ways to manage, control and backup Android from Windows.

iTunes may have improved somewhat in its most recent incarnation, but it is still one of the least appealing aspects of being a fan of portable Apple devices. If you’re an iPad, iPod or iPhone user you may wax lyrical about the operating system you are using, the quality of your hardware and the range of apps available – I have been included in this number at times – but you still have to contend with iTunes. It’s just not a great piece of software by any stretch of the imagination.

SnapPea is a different beast altogether. This is a desktop tool that can be used to organize and backup your Android tablet or phone from Windows (although there’s also a Mac version available), and despite the fact it’s currently in beta, it is already shaping up to be something very solid.

Make the SnapPea Connection

Getting up and running with SnapPea is a multi-step process. You will first need to grab yourself a copy of the desktop software from the software website, but there’s also an app that will need to be installed on your mobile device.

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The phone version of the app can be downloaded from Google Play , but if you are planning on working with a tablet you will need to visit another site to download the software you need – the tablet version is not available for download through Google Play at the moment.

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Run through the installation of the desktop program first and then install the mobile app on your Android device. In order to establish a connection you will need to put your phone or tablet in USB Debugging mode – if you don’t know how to do this, instructions are provided in the desktop app for various versions of Android.

With this done, make sure you have the Windows version of SnapPea running and then connect your Android device. Follow the instructions to install drivers and you’ll be ready to go in just a few moments.

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SnapPea will immediately invite you to link the device to your computer so that backups will be automatically created. Just click Link or ‘Don’t link’ – you can change the setting later on if you change your mind.

Exploring SnapPea

The links down the left hand side of the program window should be fairly self-explanatory; click the Apps link to access the apps you have installed, Contacts to manage your contacts, and so on.

Starting off in the Apps section, it is possible to not only view a list of the apps you have installed, but also uninstall any you no longer need and move between internal storage and an SD card. While these are tasks easily performed on your device, if you want to work with several apps at the same time, SnapPea makes this possible.

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You also have the option of backing up apps. This involves little more than copying the relevant APK files from your device to your computer and it’s a good idea before performing any major app upgrades. Should you decide that the latest version of a particular title is not for you, you can revert to your backup version instead.

To backup, select one or more apps by ticking the boxes next to them and then click the Export button at the top of the program window. When the time comes to reinstall, just click the ‘Install apps’ button and select your backup folder; you can install swathes of apps in one fell swoop in this way.

It is worth noting that only APKs are backed up, not app data – you will have to export this separately yourself.

Media Management

Almost every Android device is home to a raft of media files. Few phones are not used to store scores of photos, and both tablets and phones are used for video and music playback. In the Video, Music and Pictures section, the Export option is once again available for backup purposes. Files can also be imported.

You can click any picture to view it in full screen mode, and standard slideshow controls are available at the bottom of the screen. In addition to deletion and rotation options, you will also find a couple of buttons to set an image as your Android wallpaper or to share via Facebook.

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Music management works in much the same way, and there is a nice feature available to anyone who has used, or is still using, iTunes to manage a music collection. To the upper right of the Music section, click the ‘Import iTunes music’ button to do just that – you will just have to choose which of the available libraries should be imported.

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Backup and More

If you are using SnapPea to work with a phone rather than a tablet, the Contacts and Messages section of the program provide you with a useful way to create, edit and delete address book entries as well as send the occasional SMS using a regular keyboard.

Click the Welcome link in the left hand navigation bar to return to the main screen. Tucked out of the way down to the bottom right of the window you will find another Backup option. This can be used to quickly backup all of your apps, contacts and messages – they’ll be stored in one zip file that you can browse manually or reinstate using the Restore button.

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At the Welcome screen you will also find another handy tool. Screen capturing is something that varies from one Android device to another. On my HTC phone, it’s a simple matter of holding the power button and tapping home, while my tablet requires a button combination I always forget that involves the volume control and only works half of the time.

Click the little arrow to the right of the Capture button in the center of the window and you can choose between taking ‘Screen only’ screenshots – which I would recommend – or ‘normal’ ones. Selecting the latter option results in very small grabs with a device-specific border.

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SnapPea also includes full screen display mirroring. You can opt to show the output of your phone or tablet on your computer monitor; this is great for showing off photos or giving presentations. This button can be found to the right of the Capture button and whatever is displayed on your Android will also be displayed on your monitor – albeit with a slight lag (you are not going to want to use this option for full screen gaming).

This is a great little tool that I would recommend to any Android user. SnapPea is wonderfully simple to use, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

What tools do you use to backup and manage your Android phone or tablet? Let us know in the comments below.

Mark Wilson is a software fiend and a fan of the new, shiny and intriguing. Never afraid to get his hands dirty with some full-scale geekery, he’s always trying out the latest apps, hacks and tweaks. He can be found on Twitter and Google+.

  • Published 02/4/13

Comments (20)

  1. IT-Rick

    I have been using AirDroid for a while now & I enjoy it, it does require some extra attention. But it is quite easy once you get it setup.
    Must say I like the look of this new SnapPea however – will give it a go and see.

  2. sj

    I found this when it first came out, and have been using it daily ever since. VERY easy to setup and use. Love it.

  3. TimJM

    what will this do that AirDroid doesnt? AirDroid doesn’t require a PC app so I can access my phone/tablet from any computer.

  4. James O'Brien

    Why not use both AirDroid and Snappea? I use AirDroid at home and at work, and I like it. But this Snappea has a very nice user interface. It also has a rating of 4.1 on Play.Google.com. Not a lot of users though, 215 as I write this. Still, I’ll give it a try and let you know what happens.

    To Mark, the author of this article, thanks. This is a good article. Keep up the good work!

  5. PdtS

    Paid article.

    Guys, it’s okay, but you should either make those more believable or just come out straight.

  6. PDI

    Check out My Phone Explorer….It even allows remote desktop control of a tablet from a PC, providing USB debugging mode is enabled. I fixed a customers tablet in China by remote accessing his PC with his tablet connected to the PC. Used LogmeinRescue to control his PC then used My Phone Explorer to run his tablet remotely.

    #languagebarrier

  7. Huisie

    If you have a Samsung phone or tablet, TeamViewer Quick Support is worth a look.
    It reminds me of Pocket Controller Pro for Windows.Mobile.

    It hasn’t the extraneous functions that Pocket Controller has (sync folders, screenshots, etc.), but it creates a replica of your phone on your PC, as Pocket Controller does for Windows Mobile.

    It does give you remote control functionality, though.One of my colleagues, who lives 60 miles away, had trouble yesterday. She sent me a code, which I typed into TeamViewer on my PC and was able to control her phone as if I was holding it.

    Strangely, even though it only works with Samsung devices, it swaps the two keys either side of the home button around.

  8. Henk van Setten

    I’m fairly new to Android phones, so forgive me if I’m being dumb. I simply don’t get the point of this kind of apps, not even after trying a few (Samsung Kies, a terrible resources hog) and AirDroid and MyPhoneExplorer (both nice, but a bit cumbersome to use). But why would I need any of them?
    I have a USB battery charged annex connector standing next to my PC and when I plug in my phone (which I do automatically when sitting down in my workplace) it simply appears as an external drive in my Windows file manager. So on my PC I can see all my folders and files anyway, both on the phone itself and its SD card, and I can move (and backup) things as I like.
    So apart from offering a nice visual shell, what’s the point of apps like this? Automating something like daily or weekly backups? I can do that easily from my PC as well…
    Still don’t get it.

  9. Neil Watson

    Agree with Hank, plus I need to sync calendar and contacts with Outlook – therefore I have to use Kies (I don’t use cloud services because I don’t live in an urban area, therefore broadband sloooow).

    Kies is better than it used to be, although still slow and heavy on the PC, but if I have to use it why do I need something else?

  10. dwn

    Seems to me that Android is its own best aggregator; its really two apps away from doing all this by itself when in range of a WiFi or cellular connection (Titanium Backup and FolderSync); or just do it straight from where ever its mounted.

  11. dwn

    I should add that the rest of the functionality is natively built into Android.

  12. Grant

    I use FolderSync to back up files via SFTP any time I hot a WiFi network. I am not sure why I would need this.

  13. Greg

    I use android-sync from http://www.android-sync.com/ to sync between my android and windows outlook and I like it very much works well.

  14. andyr354

    Does not support the Nexus 7 right now. Bummer.

  15. Don

    Paid for CompanionLink on the PC in connection with DejaOffice on my S3. So far, I’ve had several problems with duplicate contacts, missing contacts and failure of the PC to recognize the phone despite numerous deletes and re-installs of the drivers. Both Samsung’s and CompanionLink’s. I got it sync several times – that’s when the duplicates and missing contacts began to show up.

    I miss my old Windows 6.1 phone that synced reliably every time. I don’t use the cloud strongly preferring to my own information as much as possible.

  16. dark_star

    Welcome to your new chinese government backdoor.

  17. Peter

    That’s great! Thank you for that.

    The Motorola Defy software was a pain, and with the Galaxy S111 I got Kiesa which is bloody awful!

    This appears to be just what I need, I don’t care if there are a few bugs to work out.

  18. jimlad

    Go into contacts > export. Simples. But why would you even do that, when all contacts are saved to your gmail account.. :s

  19. aDeadBody

    I finally got SnapPea working its magic on my Nexus7 tablet. I don’t know if such an app can be simpler than this, nor easier to set up, but what do I know.

    Just for my own sense of ain’t-broke-don’t-fix, I will be keeping apk backups of SnapPea itself. Sometimes you just don’t know what a dev will do with an app, that will break it on you.

  20. TalaPantas

    there are a lot more advance stuffs you can do with snap pea than airdroid. some adb shell tweaks that can’t be done over wifi, just for example. been with those tools but dropped them off immediately after having snap pea.

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