Moving Apps to an SD Card on Android

February 15, 2021 • Devin Partida


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At some point, you’ve probably started to run low on space on your phone. The files you’ve downloaded or created — all the apps, photos and documents — have started to add up, and now you’re almost out of storage.

Since Android Marshmallow, it’s been possible for Android owners to use SD cards as extra internal storage. If your phone has an SD slot, you can add an SD card and transfer some of your apps and files to effectively expand your phone’s storage.

Below, we’ll cover how to move apps to an SD card.

Should You Move Apps to an SD Card?

Before you begin, it’s worth knowing that while you can use an SD card to store apps, it will have some impact on app performance.

Because of the way SD cards are built, your phone will take longer to store and access information that’s on an SD card compared to data in internal storage. This means that larger, more resource-intensive apps may be slower to load and function if you store them on an SD card. 

Files stored on an SD card may also be a little bit slower to load in general.

You can manage this speed issue by looking for SD cards with fast read/write speeds. While shopping for SD cards, look for their speed class or write speed, in addition to how much information they can store.

Setting Up Your SD Card

Once you’re committed to an SD card, you can start transferring files. Be sure that your SD card is empty and you’ve moved any important files before you set up the card as internal storage. Formatting your micro SD card for storage will erase any files on the card.

  1. Insert your card into your phone’s SD slot. 
  2. A New SD Card notification should appear in your notifications bar. Open it and tap Set Up.
  3. Now, you’ll choose how the phone will use the card. Select Phone Storage.
  4. On the next screen, choose Erase & Format.

If you didn’t get the notification, you can also set up your SD card from your Phone’s Settings.

  1. Open Settings and scroll to the Storage section.
  2. Open Storage and tap the name of your SD card.
  3. Tap the three dots in the top right corner of your screen. Then, tap Storage Settings.
  4. On the menu that appears, tap Format as internal. Then, tap Erase & Format.

On some phones, you may be given the chance to start moving files to your SD card right away with a content transfer manager. On others, you’ll need to move apps and files manually.

Get MicroSD cards and adapters on Amazon here.

Moving Apps to SD Card: How-to

Once your SD card is set up as internal storage, you can easily move apps and files over to the card.

  1. Go to Settings, then Apps & notifications, then App info.
  2. Scroll until you find the app you want to move, then tap it.
  3. Select storage. If you can move the app, you’ll see a Change option. Tap Change.
  4. In the dialogue box that appears, select the SD card option. Then, tap Move when the option appears

You may not be able to transfer some apps, like pre-installed or system apps.

If you need to move an app back from an SD card, follow the same steps, but select Internal shared storage when prompted.

Be sure to move apps back to your phone’s internal storage if you every need to switch or remove your phone’s SD card. 

Storing Apps on an SD Card

With an SD card, you can quickly expand the amount of storage on your phone. Keep in mind, however, that files and apps on the card may load a little slower than those in your phone’s main storage. 

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