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How to download on stick

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How to download on stick: On your PC you have a library full of music, movies, photos, programs and games that you access daily. Of course, there are some elements of your collection that you would always like to have with you, to be able to have them available on any other PC, when you are not at home, and to be able to show them or pass them on to friends and colleagues.

You should know that this is not a complex operation: the USB sticks allow, in fact, to store any type of data in a device characterized by a handy and portable shape, which guarantees the widest possible compatibility with PCs, smartphones and most popular tablets . Is this really the solution you were looking for? Great.

In this guide, I will explain how to download on a stick  by treating the topic at 360 degrees: I will help you choose the stick that best suits your needs, I will show you the steps to download to download music, movies, photos, programs and games and, finally, I’ll show you how to access your stick from your smartphone or tablet. Are you ready? Very well, let’s get started!

Preliminary operations

USB pen drive

The first thing you need to do is choose and buy your USB stick. The main factors you need to consider to make your choice are two: the storage capacity and the data transfer speed .

The storage capacity determines the amount of data that can be stored inside the stick. Like your PC’s hard drive, USB sticks also have limited space. Basically, the most common “cuts” of memory currently on the market are 16 GB , 32 GB , 64 GB , 128 GB and 256 GB .

To choose the memory cut, think about the use you will make of your memory stick: if you plan to archive mainly your documents and some family photos, you can focus on the lower cuts. If, on the other hand, you plan to archive several multimedia files, such as images or videos, programs and games, then I suggest you consider the highest cuts.

As I mentioned before, a second factor to evaluate is the data transfer rate. Most of the keys available on the market adhere to the USB 3.0 standard , but some could still be found equipped with the USB 2.0 standard . This “version” has an important effect on the speed of reading and writing data: in the first case, the speed is in the order of hundreds of MB / s, in the second case it can hardly reach tens of MB / s. When you buy a stick, therefore refer to the USB standard and the speed values ​​that are indicated on the package or in the data sheet.

However, keep in mind that if you buy a USB 3.0 stick and use it on an older PC, therefore equipped with USB 2.0 ports , the transfer speed will be limited to the standard 2.0 : in these cases, the maximum speed that can be reached is always the lower speed between the maximum speeds of the devices involved in the transfer, in this case the USB stick and the USB port of the PC. For further information on the factors to consider when choosing the USB flash drive, see my purchase guide on the best USB flash drives .

After purchasing the stick, it’s time to format it. Although the key is ready for use, formatting is an important procedure that you will have to weigh well, taking into account, in this case, the devices on which you are going to use the key. To format the drive, you have to choose the  file system to use, which determines how the data is managed and the maximum “heaviness” limit of the data. The most common file systems, and their advantages and disadvantages, are as follows.

  • FAT32 , the most common: it is light and guarantees maximum compatibility with Windows , macOS , Linux and, more generally, with practically all devices equipped with a USB port. However, it has an important limitation: the maximum size of individual files cannot exceed 4 GB . If you plan to archive larger files, you shouldn’t choose this file system.
  • NTFS , the most common on internal and external hard drives and is optimized for Windows systems: it has virtually no limitations on file size and allows advanced management of permissions. However, it must be considered that it does not enjoy the same compatibility as FAT32 : on macOS , for example, it is possible to access it only for reading (unless using external software ). Devices other than PCs may also have some problems digesting it.
  • exFAT , the most recent file system developed specifically for USB sticks: it maintains the lightness of FAT32 , eliminating its limitations. It has a definitely greater compatibility than NTFS , even macOS and Linux can access it both for reading and writing, but it could still give some problems on older devices, such as PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 .

After choosing the file system that best suits your needs, proceed with the formatting of the stick, which I explain to you, in detail, in my guide on how to format a USB stick .

I conclude this introductory part, reminding you to pay attention to a new form factor that has been spreading in recent times: USB-C . Some recent notebooks may only have USB-C ports . You can overcome this problem by purchasing a USB-C stick or a special adapter that allows you to use your traditional USB stick. Having made this necessary premise, insert your USB stick into the PC and let’s start.

How to download music on USB stick

Downloading music to USB stick is a very simple operation. Probably, on your PC you have audio tracks of different origin and you have installed all the programs and codecs necessary for their reproduction.

Unfortunately, when you are not at home, you cannot always know what type of support the other devices include: if you want to extend the compatibility of audio files as much as possible, for example to listen to them on a car radio, I recommend using an MP3 converter , in order to use this common format for the tracks to be downloaded on a stick.


Windows USB drive

First of all, go to the folder of your PC that contains the files or folders you want to download on a stick: locate the file or folder you want to copy, click on it with the right mouse button and, using this time the left button , click the Copy button , if you want to keep a copy of the file or folder on your PC, or the Cut button , if you want to move instead. Both the copy and cut buttons are accessible through the drop-down menu that is shown on the screen after you have pressed the right button.

If you want to select multiple files or multiple folders at the same time, before using the right button as I have just shown you, select all the files or all the folders you want to download, clicking on them with the left mouse button, while holding down the button Keyboard Ctrl .

I also point out the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + A , to select all the elements of the folder where you are, Ctrl + C , to copy the selected files without using the mouse, and Ctrl + X , to cut the selected files without using the mouse.

Now, to access the stick, open the File Explorer  (the yellow folder icon on the taskbar, bottom left) and, in the window that is shown to you, click on This PC , if you use Windows 10, or Computer , if you use Windows 7. Under Devices and drives , you will find your USB stick, recognizable thanks to the words Removable Disk or USB Drive  which, in some cases, can also be replaced by the indication of the brand and / or model of the stick: then open it with a double click .

Now, create a folder inside the key, clicking with the right mouse button on the empty area inside the key window and selecting the items  New>  Folder from the contextual menu. Now, type the name to be given to the folder, for example Music , and confirm by pressing the Enter key on the keyboard.

To paste the items you copied, open the folder you just created, with a double click , then right- click on the empty area in the folder window, then click Paste , in the drop-down menu that is shown. To simplify the operation, you can use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + Shift + N , to create a new folder, and Ctrl + V , to paste.


Mac USB stick

If you use a Mac , the procedure is really very similar to what I have just explained to you for Windows . To begin with, use the Finder  (the smiling face icon located on the Dock bar) to reach the folder that houses the audio tracks you want to copy to the stick. To select the files to copy, click on the elements while holding down the cmd button . Once the selection is complete, press the cmd + c keys to copy the selected files.

Now, insert the stick into a USB port and wait for the USB stick icon to appear on the desk , represented by a gray rectangle. With a double click on this icon, open the stick and create a new folder. For the creation you have two alternatives: using the Finder File commands > New folder , or with the keyboard combination cmd + shift + n . To confirm, type the name, for example Music , and press Enter .

Open the folder you just created and, to paste the previously copied files, press the cmd + v keys : in this way you have copied the files on a stick. If you want to move the files without leaving a copy on the Mac , use the combination cmd + alt + v to paste. Alternatively, hold down the alt key while right-clicking and select the  Move xx items here  item from the menu that opens.

How to download movies on USB stick

You can download movies on a USB stick, so that you can watch them not only on your PC, but also on the TV or media player, for example. For better compatibility with the various devices on which you will use the stick, I recommend using an MP4 converter , in order to download your movies in this very popular (and compressed) format, which therefore allows you to store many movies without taking up too much space).


Windows Paste

If you use Windows , first you need to go to the folder containing the movies you want to download on the stick. Once you have reached this path, click with the right mouse button on the element you want to download, then click with the left mouse button on Copy or Cut , depending on whether you want to keep or minus the item on PC.

To speed up the operation, you can select multiple elements at a time, clicking on them with the left key while holding down the Ctrl key , select all the elements, pressing the Ctrl + A keys simultaneously , and copy or cut the selected elements using the shortcuts Ctrl + C or Ctrl + X .

After that, to access the USB stick, open the File Explorer  (the yellow folder icon on the taskbar) and select the item  This PC , if you use Windows 10, or Computer , if you use Windows 7, from the window displayed on the screen. You will find your stick, identified as Removable Disk , USB Drive or, possibly with the make and / or model of the stick: to access its contents, double-click on it.

At this point, create a folder by clicking with the right mouse button in an empty area inside the key window and selecting the items  New  >  Folder from the context menu. Also You can create a folder using the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + N .

Now, type the name you want to give to the folder, for example Video , open the newly created folder and, always on a free area of ​​the window, click with the right mouse button, then click on the Paste item  . In addition, you can Also paste items using the shortcut Ctrl + V .


Mac New Folder

If you use a Mac , you can download movies on a USB stick in a very similar way to Windows . First of all, through the Finder  (the smiling face icon), navigate to the folder containing the films you want to download on a stick. To select the items to copy, click on them while holding down the cmd key on the keyboard. When you are done selecting, use the cmd + c combination to copy the highlighted elements.

Now, you have to insert the USB stick and wait for the stick icon to appear on the desk , similar to a gray rectangle. To open the key, double click on this icon and create a new folder, by pressing the keys of the combination cmd + shift + n or using the menu File> New folder . You just have to indicate the name, by typing, for example, Movies , and confirming by pressing the Enter key .

To paste the previously copied items, after opening the newly created folder, you have two possibilities: if you want a simple copy, use the combination cmd + v , if, on the other hand, you want to move the files, without keeping a copy on the Mac , press the keys cmd + alt + v or press  alt + right click and select the item  Move xx items here from the context menu.

How to download photos to USB stick

If you have several photos of family or holiday, you can download them to a USB stick to show to friends and family at any time. Now I show you how to do and how to keep photo albums organized.


Windows New Folder

If you use Windows , the first thing you need to do is go to the PC folder that contains all your photos using the File Explorer  (the yellow folder icon located at the bottom left): then select the items you want to download by clicking on them with the left mouse button while holding down the Ctrl key on the keyboard.

Then, when you have finished selecting, click with the right mouse button, move the cursor to New , then click Copy or Cut : the first option keeps a copy of the elements on the PC, the second one moves. Alternatively you can copy or cut, using, rispettivamente, the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + C or Ctrl + X .

Now, you have to access the stick. To do this, open the File Explorer  and, in the window that is shown to you, click on This PC , if you use Windows 10, or on  Computer , if you use Windows 7. In the next window, identify your memory stick, indicated as Removable Disk , USB drive or its make and / or model, and double click on it.

Now that you have entered the key, create a new folder by clicking with the right mouse button on an empty area of ​​the window, moving the cursor to New , and clicking on the Folder item  : then assign a name to it (eg  Images ) and confirm by pressing the Enter key on the keyboard.

Now, with a double click , open the newly created folder and, if you think it is appropriate to organize your photos, repeat the procedure I have just shown you to create subfolders, for example Christmas 2017 and Summer 2018 .

Finally, when you are inside the folder where you want to paste the previously selected photos, right-click inside the window and select the Paste item  from the contextual menu. Alternatively, you can paste the files by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V .


Mac Copy

The steps necessary to download photos on a stick using a Mac are similar to those to be performed using Windows . The first thing you need to do is open the folder in which the photos you want to download to the USB stick are present. Now, hold down the cmd  key of the keyboard, while with the mouse click on all the elements you want to copy. At the end of the selection, press the cmd + c keys .

After inserting the key, wait for the key icon (a gray rectangle) to appear on the desk and double click on it. Now that you have opened the key, press the keys cmd + shift + n or use the menu items File> New folder , to create, in fact, a new folder. Now, give the folder the name you prefer, for example Images , and, after pressing the Enter key , open it and, if you deem it appropriate, repeat this operation to create some subfolders that will help you keep your photo albums organized.

To conclude, open the desired folder and, to paste the elements inside it, use the shortcut cmd + v , for a simple copy, or cmd + alt + v , for moving the files.

How to download programs and games on USB stick


If you want to download programs and games on a USB stick , the PortableApps platform is for you: it is a free collection of portable programs, therefore usable directly from a USB stick without installations, organized in a very simple way. To use it and copy various programs on your stick with ease, connected to its  official project site  and click first on the Download Now – Free button and then on Download from : they are both green buttons that you can find in the center of the page.

After a few seconds of waiting, the download of the executable ends. To proceed, open the file you just downloaded, select the Italian language and confirm by clicking on the OK button . Now the software installation will start: in the window that opens, click Next , then I accept , then Next and, finally, Next again  . At this point, make sure that the black dot is placed at the drive letter of your stick (for example F or H ), then continue by clicking on the Next buttons , then Install, then Close . All the buttons I have indicated are located at the bottom of the installation window.

After a few moments of waiting, a window will appear on the screen listing a series of programs and games that can be installed: put the check marks to the items that correspond to the applications you want to download on the stick and proceed by clicking Next and, at the end of the installation, Close .

At the bottom right, you can see a small application start menu, very similar to the Start Menu . By inserting the key in any PC, you can in fact call this start menu, simply by double-clicking on the Start.exe file that is present inside the USB stick: in this way, you can carry all the applications you want, using them with a just click on their name, which you can find in the left pane of PortableApps .

At any time, you can update the applications installed on the stick or install new ones by clicking on Applications> Check for updates or on Applications> Download other Applications…> By Category . If you are looking for more details, refer to my guide on how to install programs on the USB stick .

How to download to USB flash drive from smartphones and tablets

Android File Manager

You must know that you can also access your USB stick from your smartphone and tablet, being able to view and transfer documents and multimedia files. However, there are some differences between Android and iOS .

On Android it is possible to connect the USB stick through USB On-The-Go technology . It is therefore necessary to have only a USB OTG compatible smartphone and a small adapter, which plugs into the Micro-USB socket , the one used to recharge the battery, and provides a traditional USB input. Alternatively, you need to purchase an  OTG stick with a micro-USB connector.

In this way it is possible to navigate inside the USB stick and perform the ordinary copy , cut , paste and delete operations : simply go to the File Manager of your device and you can access the stick exactly as you access the Internal Archive or to the SD card . The key is shown as external memory .

To copy or move content, access the internal memory of the smartphone, touch and hold the first element you want to download, then add the check marks to all the elements you want to select, tap on Copy or Move , at the bottom, then use the upper bar, which shows you the path of the current folder, to go backwards in the hierarchical structure of the folders. Finally, once you are inside the destination folder, touch the Paste button , at the bottom.

On iOS the situation is slightly different: the operating principle and the allowed operations are the same, what changes is the access method. No adapter is used, there are MFI approved Lightning keys on the market , which are inserted directly into the socket normally used for recharging the battery. The key manufacturer provides you with the instructions and, in particular, the application, which you must download from the App Store , which allows you to access the key and to copy, cut or synchronize your content.


Exceptions are the 2018 iPad Pro 12.9 ″ and iPad Pro 11 ″ models , which integrate a USB-C connector instead of the Lightning connector . At the moment, the USB-C port can only be used to import photos from the external drive connected to it. For more information, I suggest you take a look at my guide on how to transfer files from tablet to USB stick .