How to Upload Images to Firebase from an Android App

Firebase is a mobile and web application development platform, and Firebase Storage provides secure file uploads and downloads for Firebase apps. In this post, you’ll build an Android application with the ability to upload images to Firebase Storage.

Firebase Setup

If you don’t have a Firebase account yet, you can create one at the Firebase home page.

Once your account is set up, go to your Firebase console, and click the Add Project button to add a new project.

Firebase home page

Enter your project details and click the Create Project button when done. On the next page, click on the link to Add Firebase to your Android app.

Create project options

Enter your application package name. My application package is Note that the package name is namespaced with a unique string that identifies you or your company. An easy way to find this is to open your MainActivity file and copy the package name from the top.

Add Firebase to your Android app

When done, click on Register App. On the next page, you will be given a google-services.json to download to your computer. Copy and paste that file into the app folder of your application. (The path should be something like TutsplusUpload/app.)

Set Firebase Permissions

To allow your app access to Firebase Storage, you need to set up permissions in the Firebase console. From your console, click on Storage, and then click on Rules.

Firebase Storage permissions rules

Paste the rule below and publish. 

This will allow read and write access to your Firebase storage.

Create the Application

Open up Android Studio, and create a new project. You can call your project anything you want. I called mine TutsplusUpload.

Before you proceed, you’ll need to add a couple of dependencies. On the left panel of your Android Studio, click on Gradle Scripts.

buildgradle file

Open build.gradle (Project: TutsplusUpload), and add this line of code in the dependencies block.

Next, open build.gradle (Module: app) to add the dependencies for Firebase. These go in the dependencies block also. 

Finally, outside the dependencies block, add the plugin for Google Services.

Save when done, and it should sync.

Set Up the MainActivity Layout

The application will need one activity layout. Two buttons will be needed—one to select an image from your device, and the other to upload the selected image. After selecting the image you want to upload, the image will be displayed in the layout. In other words, the image will not be set from the layout but from the activity.

In your MainActivity layout, you will use two layouts—nesting the linear layout inside the relative layout. Start by adding the code for your relative layout.

The RelativeLayout takes up the whole space provided by the device. The LinearLayout will live inside the RelativeLayout, and will have the two buttons. The buttons should be placed side by side, thus the orientation to be used for the LinearLayout will be horizontal.

Here is the code for the linear layout.

From the above code, you can see that both buttons have ids assigned. The ids will be used to target the button from the main activity such that when the button gets clicked, an interaction is initiated. You will see that soon.

Below the LinearLayout, add the code for the ImageView.

You can also see that the ImageView has an id; you will use this to populate the layout of the selected image. This will be done in the main activity.

Get MainActivity Up

Navigate to your MainActivity, and start by declaring fields. These fields will be used to initialize your views (the buttons and ImageView), as well as the URI indicating where the image will be picked from. Add this to your main activity, above the onCreate method.

PICK_IMAGE_REQUEST is the request code defined as an instance variable.

Now you can initialize your views like so:

In the above code, you are creating new instances of Button and ImageView. The instances point to the buttons you created in your layout.

You have to set a listener that listens for interactions on the buttons. When an interaction happens, you want to call a method that triggers either the selection of an image from the gallery or the uploading of the selected image to Firebase.

Underneath the initialized views, set the listener for both buttons. The listener looks like this.

This should be in the onCreate() method. As I mentioned above, both buttons call a different method. The Choose button calls the chooseImage() method, while the Upload button calls the uploadImage() method. Let’s add those methods. Both methods should be implemented outside the onCreate() method.

Let’s start with the method to choose an image. Here is how it should look:

When this method is called, a new Intent instance is created. The intent type is set to image, and its action is set to get some content. The intent creates an image chooser dialog that allows the user to browse through the device gallery to select the image. startActivityForResult is used to receive the result, which is the selected image. To display this image, you’ll make use of a method called onActivityResult.

onActivityResult receives a request code, result code, and the data. In this method, you will check to see if the request code equals PICK_IMAGE_REQUEST, with the result code equal to RESULT_OK and the data available. If all this is true, you want to display the selected image in the ImageView.

Below the chooseImage() method, add the following code.

Uploading the File to Firebase

Now we can implement the method for uploading the image to Firebase. First, declare the fields needed for Firebase. Do this below the other fields you declared for your class.

storage will be used to create a FirebaseStorage instance, while storageReference will point to the uploaded file. Inside your onCreate() method, add the code to do that—create a FirebaseStorage instance and get the storage reference. References can be seen as pointers to a file in the cloud.

Here is what the uploadImage() method should look like.

When the uploadImage() method is called, a new instance of ProgressDialog is initialized. A text notice showing the user that the image is being uploaded gets displayed. Then a reference to the uploaded image, storageReference.child(), is used to access the uploaded file in the images folder. This folder gets created automatically when the image is uploaded. Listeners are also added, with toast messages. These messages get displayed depending on the state of the upload.

Set Permission in the App

Finally, you need to request permission that your application will make use of. Without this, users of your application will not be able to browse their device gallery and connect to the internet with your application. Doing this is easy—simply paste the following in your AndroidManifest file. Paste it just above the application element tag.

This requests for permission to use the internet and read external storage.

Testing the App

Now go ahead and run your application! You should be able to select an image and successfully upload it to Firebase. To confirm the image uploaded, go back to your console and check in the Files part of your storage.

The finished app


Firebase provides developers with lots of benefits, and file upload with storage is one of them. Uploading images from your Android application requires you to work with Activities and Intents. By following along with this tutorial, your understanding of Activities and Intents has deepened. I hope you enjoyed it!

Check out some of our other posts for more background about Activities and Intents, or take a look at some of our other tutorials on using Firebase with Android!

  • Android SDK
    What Are Android Intents?
    Chinedu Izuchukwu
  • Android SDK
    What Is the Android Activity Lifecycle?
    Chinedu Izuchukwu
  • Android SDK
    Firebase for Android: File Storage
    Paul Trebilcox-Ruiz
  • Android SDK
    How to Create an Android Chat App Using Firebase
    Ashraff Hathibelagal

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