Fix: USB preferences grayed out on Android

When you connect your Android to your PC via the USB cable, you should see the USB Settings in the notification shade. From there, you can usually choose to only charge your device or transfer data. Sadly, some users run into a peculiar problem. Namely, for some of them, USB preferences are grayed out on their Android and they can’t seem to transfer data or use the photo transfer feature. One user started a thread on Google Forums, here, but it seems that suggested solutions didn’t work for many. We tried to cover all the bases and provide some solutions we deem useful below.

Table of contents:

  1. Change the cable
  2. Switch the USB port
  3. Check USB drivers
  4. Perform a factory reset on your Android

Why my phone is not showing USB preferences?

If your phone is only charging and doesn’t show USB preferences when you connect it to a PC, you can try to:

  • Use a different cable. Just make sure that the cable supports data transfer. Not all USB-C to USB-A cables support it as some are made just for charging.
  • Use a different USB port on your PC/laptop/Chromebook/Windows tablet.
  • Install drivers if the generic driver doesn’t recognize your device.
  • Perform a factory reset and try again.

1. Change the cable

Make sure to use the stock cable that you got with your device. Not all USB cables can be used for both charging and Data Transfer or ADB access. In fact, most will do for charging but only certified USB Type-C to USB Type-A cables can be used for data transfers.

In addition to the cable, make sure that the port is not clogged with dirt or debris. Both on the cable and on your phone. Try cleaning it with compressed air but avoid sticking any sharp objects (or at least do it super carefully).

2. Switch the USB port

The next obvious thing to try if the USB preferences are still grayed out is to switch to a different USB port. Maybe the current port on your PC is malfunctioning which can happen more often than you think. Especially if the said port has been used a lot of times for years.

Hopefully, a different port will work. If that did nothing and you can only charge your phone when connected to your PC, check Windows drivers.

3. Check USB drivers

If the problem is not hardware, then the most likely culprit for this issue is the generic driver that auto-installs the first time you connect your device. On most Android devices, this generic driver is good enough to connect your PC and phone without issues, but that’s not always the case. So, right-click on the Start button and open Device manager while your phone is connected. Select Portable Devices. If you see your phone, the driver is OK.

However, if you don’t see your phone under Portable Devices, search for drivers that fit your device (usually provided by OEM) online and install them. That should resolve the problem and your PC should be able to recognize your Android as a device with storage and not just charge it.

4. Perform a factory reset on your Android

Finally, if you are still stuck with the problem despite the cable, PC USB port, and drivers being OK, you can try resetting your device to factory settings. Have in mind that this action will wipe all data from your device, so back it up before moving forward.

So, here’s how to perform a factory reset on Android:

  1. Back up your device in Settings > Google > Backup.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Choose System or General management.
  4. Select Reset or Reset options.
  5. Select Erase all (factory reset).
  6. Tap Erase all.usb preferences grayed out
  7. Your device will restart and you’ll get to the initial setup screen.
  8. From there, sign in to Google and/or to OEMs account and restore everything that’s backed up.

That’s a wrap. Thank you for reading and we hope that the steps we provided here helped you address the problem. Did you manage to fix the issue? Tell us what worked for you in the comments section below.

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