How to Use the Remote File Retrieval Action

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Whether you need to urgently retrieve important office files from a lost device that is connected to the internet, or if you just forgot to send the latest report you were working on from your home computer, the remote File Retrieval action can help you download files from your device, whether you're in the next room, or thousands of kilometers away from your computer; all you need is for the device to have access to the internet, and your Prey panel!

The File Retrieval action needs the device from which you will be requesting the files to be connected to the internet at the moment the action is executed; the File Retrieval action cannot be queued and executed at a later time.

File Retrieval has a file size limit of 25mb, and can only request one download at a time. For mobile devices, we can only retrieve files saved on the device itself; any file saved to an external storage unit, such as an SD card, cannot be accessed.

Notice for Android users

Starting on Android 12, and due to limitations placed on developers by Android itself, Prey can only access multimedia files. Please consider this limitation when using the File Retrieval action.

If you need help in using the File Retrieval action, we've prepare this comprehensive step-by-step:


Access the device from which you want to retrieve files

From your device list, select the device you wish to retrieve files from. Once in the map view, click on the File Retrieval action from the Action bar, on the right side of the screen.

This will pop-up the start path modal. 

Choose the path from which you want to retrieve your files, and click the green Confirm button.

Depending on your operating system, the modal may look somewhat different. For instance, in Windows machines, you will see the hard drives installed in the device; meanwhile, for macOS devices, you will see the users that have been set-up to use the machine.


Choose the file you want to retrieve

Once you start the action, Prey will connect to your device and the map and Actions bar will be replaced by a browser for your device. Let's see in detail what you can find here.

1. The name of the device you're browsing. It will match the name you've given it in your panel.

2. Here you can find the recently requested files drawer, which will be, by default, not on display, and will show you all the recently requested files and their status. You can open and close the drawer by clicking the arrow.

3. Back to the start will take you back to the root folder for the user you selected.

4. Here you can disconnect from the device and go back to the Map and Actions screen, ending the current retrieval session.

5. The hidden files toggle, when toggled off, will keep your hidden files unseen while browsing. If you need to retrieve a hidden file, just toggle it on.

6. The browsing area, where you will see all the folders and files available for download. You can also see the path on which you're browsing, and move within it.

Start browsing as you would in your device, until you find the file you want to retrieve. 


Download your requested files

Once you've found the file you want to retrieve, hover your mouse over it and you'll se the Retrieve button, as per the image below. Just give it a click, and the file will be on your way!

The Recently requested files drawer will open and you will be able to see whether Prey is still requesting the file, or if it's already available for download.

Once the word Done appears next to the file you've requested, it will be available for download, and you will receive an email informing so. To download it, hit the word Done from the Recently requested files drawer.

While you can download all of your requested files on any given file retrieval session directly from the Recently requested files drawer, the list will be cleared once you disconnect from the device. If you want to download your file at a later time, or would like to re-download it, you will also receive an email with a download link. Just click on the link to start your download.

Please keep in mind that the download link sent to your email has a duration of 30 days, after which it will no longer work.

Issues with File Retrieval in macOS Devices

Apple devices running macOS require additional permissions in order to run the File Retrieval action correctly. All you need to do is give the bash shell Full Disk Access permissions. To do so, first access the System Preferences and select the Security & Privacy icon.

Choose the  Privacy tab, and select Full Disk Access.

To make any changes in this window, you will need to enter your administrator password. To do so, just click on the   icon and enter your administrator password. This will unlock the padlock, and you'll be able to make all the required changes.

You should there see the " bash" shell binary. Click on the checkbox, as per the image below...

...and voilà! Your macOS device will now be able to run the File Retrieval action without issues.

If have any questions, or require assistance, don't hesitate to contact us at

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