Move An­droid apps to an SD card

MARIE BLACK shows how to move apps to an SD card, plus how to store files and pho­tos on a mem­ory card in a phone

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Many cheap An­droid phones come with a pal­try 4 or 8GB of stor­age, and even 16GB isn’t re­ally enough for lots of apps, high-res­o­lu­tion pho­tos and videos, plus a mu­sic li­brary. For­tu­nately, the vast ma­jor­ity of An­droid phones have a mem­ory card slot, into which you can slot an in­ex­pen­sive mi­croSD card.

Get­ting started

Be­fore you buy one, check what ca­pac­ity your phone will sup­port. Flag­ship phones tend to ac­com­mo­date 128GB or higher, but many cheap An­droids ac­cept only 32GB. To be fair, 32GB will be enough for most peo­ple. Once you’ve got the mi­croSD card, it’s easy to set things up so that it be­comes the de­fault place for new apps, pho­tos, videos, mu­sic and more. You can switch the stor­age lo­ca­tion within your camera set­tings or Google Play Mu­sic set­tings, for ex­am­ple. But what about the stuff al­ready clog­ging up your phone’s in­ter­nal stor­age?

Move apps to SD card

First, let’s clear up some­thing im­por­tant: not all apps can be moved to mi­croSD, and some phones won’t let you move apps to SD at all. This means phones with just 4- or 8GB of in­ter­nal stor­age can still run into prob­lems even with a mi­croSD card if you down­load and use a lot of apps.

Whether or not an app can be moved to mi­croSD is down to the app de­vel­oper and, some­times, the phone man­u­fac­turer. Sam­sung’s Gal­axy S8 (£537 from is one of sev­eral phones that does al­low you to move apps to SD, but you should note that those apps won’t be avail­able when you re­move the SD card. The screen­shots be­low have been taken on a S8 and may look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to what you’re see­ing on your own phone, but the process should be largely the same.

To move an app to the SD card se­lect it in the Set­tings > Apps menu, then tap on Stor­age. If you

are able to move the app to SD you will see a ‘Change’ but­ton next to Stor­age used: In­ter­nal shared stor­age.

Here we’ve se­lected BBC iPlayer, which was not pre­in­stalled on the phone and can be moved (pre­in­stalled apps of­ten can­not be moved). Also note our screen­shot of Bixby Voice, how­ever, which lacks this Change but­ton and there­fore can’t be moved.

To move an app to SD tap the Change but­ton and se­lect the SD card op­tion in the pop-up menu. You’ll see a screen of­fer­ing to ex­port the app, warn­ing you that you shouldn’t re­move the SD card while this is in progress. Tap Move. The trans­fer will then take place.

It’s worth point­ing out that many free apps are avail­able that of­fer to au­to­mate this process for you. If you’re con­cerned about stor­age then adding yet an­other app prob­a­bly isn’t the best idea, but you can al­ways unin­stall it once it has done its job.

Move to SD card greyed out

In older ver­sions of An­droid you may find the op­tion to Move to SD card will be greyed out, as is the case with the Ama­zon Mu­sic app that is pre­in­stalled on this EE Har­rier Mini. These apps can­not be moved to mi­croSD.

For­mat SD as in­ter­nal stor­age

Note that some phones re­quire you to set the SD card as in­ter­nal stor­age first, be­fore you can mi­grate any data. The HTC U11 is an ex­am­ple so you’ll need to find the mi­croSD card in the stor­age sec­tion of the set­tings menu and ‘For­mat as in­ter­nal’. The process will be sim­i­lar on other phones.

Move pho­tos, video, mu­sic and files to SD

The eas­i­est method of mov­ing files to SD is browse to Set­tings > Stor­age on your An­droid phone or tablet,

then look for an op­tion to ‘Trans­fer data to SD card’. Not all An­droid de­vices have this op­tion, and if yours doesn’t you’ll need to man­u­ally move the files.

The sec­ond eas­i­est way to quickly move pho­tos, video, mu­sic and other files to a mi­croSD card is to do so us­ing a PC or Mac. Hook up the phone to your com­puter via a USB cable, then open a new win­dow to browse its con­tents.

You should be able to see the phone’s in­ter­nal stor­age and SD card as two sep­a­rate stor­age de­vices. We’re us­ing An­droid File Trans­fer on a Mac (, which shows the In­ter­nal stor­age and SD card on sep­a­rate tabs.

To move files from In­ter­nal stor­age to SD card sim­ply drag-and-drop files to copy them from the in­ter­nal stor­age to the Mac desk­top and back to the phone’s SD card, then delete them from the phone’s in­ter­nal stor­age. Just don’t try to move any An­droid sys­tem files.

File man­ager app

An­other op­tion is to use a file man­ager app. Many An­droid phones come with such an app pre­in­stalled, but it is not a stan­dard part of An­droid. We’ve down­loaded the free File Man­ager app from Top­net999 (­hul­mog), but ES File Ex­plorer ( is an­other pop­u­lar app.

Tap on the Stor­age tab at the top of the app to see the var­i­ous stor­age avail­able on the phone. Here sd­card0 was our phone’s in­ter­nal stor­age, while sd­card1 was the mi­croSD card. Let’s start with pho­tos. First open sd­card0 and browse to DCIM > Camera.

Here you’ll find any shots taken by your camera. Tap the three dots at the bot­tom right of the screen and choose Multi-se­lect. Tap on each item you want to move to SD; when se­lected the white text be­comes yel­low. Now choose Move, browse to the mi­croSD card and choose Move here.

Re­peat the process for any mu­sic and other files stored on your de­vice.

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