In this guide we’ll explain how to install or move Android apps to an SD card on your smartphone or tablet. Those with older devices are used to running out of space. Constantly having to delete apps or photos to make room for more. With our help users can avoid that completely.
By default Android apps install to the internal storage, which often times can be as little as 8 or 16GB. Which obviously isn’t enough for all of our photos, video, apps, games and music.
These days there are multiple methods to solve this problem. From storing photos or music in the cloud, to using a microSD slot for expansion. If your Android phone or tablet takes an SD card, we can install everything there by default. Read on for more details.
Over the past few years manufacturers have all started adding a microSD card to Android devices. Popular brands like Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and more. As a result users have more options than ever before. Even older devices with 16 or 32GB of storage, like a Galaxy S5, has a microSD slot.
Our goal here is to install or move any eligible app to the microSD card. Additionally, we’ll show owners how to set apps to install to an SD card by default. The result will be more storage on your device, for when it actually needs the space. There are a few different ways to do this, which varies based on the version of Android you’re running. Not to mention select manufacturers do things differently. We’ll cover that and more below.
How to Move Apps to Your SD Card
First off lets move as many apps to the SD card as possible. This is the easiest method, and also the cheapest. Get a quality microSD card, one that’s fast, and then proceed. This part of the guide was written using a Galaxy S7, and most Android devices with an SD slot use similar instructions. Not all though, so read on for additional details.
To start, pull down the navigation bar and tap the gear-shaped settings button. Or find “Settings” in the application tray. Navigate to the “Device” column or find the option labeled “Applications” then “Application Manager”. It may also be called “All Applications”. Now owners will see a list of all of their apps on the smartphone. I’m moving Clash Royale to the SD card.
It’s worth noting that any game or app where speed is important, is best left on the internal storage. As it’s almost always faster than a microSD card.
Once you’re in the application manager simply scroll through and find any app or game that was downloaded from the Google Play Store. Select the app, tap the first option called storage, and under “Storage used” where it’s set to internal storage tap the big “Change” icon as shown below. Then select “SD card” and proceed.
Here’s the full set of instructions and steps.
- Application Manager
- Select “Downloaded App”
- Click “Storage”
- Choose “Change” storage and select “SD card”
- Confirm you’d like to move app to SD, tap “Move” and let it export
- Repeat 4-7 for any downloaded app.
These steps may vary slightly for different phones not made by Samsung, but it should be relatively easy for any and all owners to figure out. Select phones may just have a “Move to MicroSD” button inside the application about screen that’s shown above. If so, click that and move each app. It only takes a few seconds.
If you are running out of space on your device, move as many apps, photos or video to the SD card. This should free up a lot of space. Alternatively, open the camera app and go to settings, and set save to SD as default. This will prevent using up valuable internal storage as well.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow Adoptable Storage
In older versions of Android a microSD card worked like portable and removable storage. Letting owners take it out and transfer files or music from a computer. Then put it back inside your smartphone or tablet. With Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above Google added a new feature called Adoptable Storage. This is better overall, but we can no longer just take it out and add content with a computer.
Instead, the operating system “adopts” the SD card as internal storage, by combining it with the built-in amount. The benefit here is all apps now install to the SD card by default. Meaning owners won’t have to manually move them later.
When you insert an SD card pull down the notification bar and tap “Set Up”. Next you can choose to use it as portable storage (old method) or adopt it strictly as internal storage. The second option will format the SD card, integrate it with the device and you’re all set. Everything will install to it by default now. Android will also erase the SD card, and give you the option to transfer any photos, video, files and some apps to the SD card automatically.
However, using adoptable internal storage makes the SD card unable to work with other devices. Meaning you can’t simply eject it and add more music from a computer.
Be sure to backup any data or information on a computer before selecting “Use as Internal storage” as Android will format and erase all data, encrypt it for security and add it as part of the system storage. It’s worth noting that at any time you can head into settings per our instructions above, and move apps from the SD card back to internal storage. If needed.
From now on, any eligible app will be installed to the microSD card by default. Eligibility is decided by the developer, and intelligently by the operating system. Taking the hassle and guesswork out of it for users.
Android 5.0 Lollipop and Older
If you’re using a smartphone or tablet running Android 5.0 Lollipop or older, our first set of instructions are what you should follow. Your device will simply treat an SD card like portable and removable storage. Meaning you can eject it and add photos or music from a computer, then put it back inside any Android device.
Then, simply follow our earlier instructions to manually head into Applications and move any app to the SD card. Remember though, any app that comes pre-installed out of the box likely can’t be moved. Typically only apps installed from the Google Play Store are able to transfer.
Some of the options above may not work for everyone. As a result there are countless 3rd party applications on the Google Play Store that can handle this task. Most require root access, which is similar to Jailbreak on an iPhone.
Owners can download popular apps like App 2 SD and enjoy a slew of features. Simply download it, and use any of the tools available. Including moving apps to an SD card, switching between internal or external, and even freezing apps. Owners use this to hide default apps (bloatware from carriers) from being visible in the app tray, or even freeze an app so it won’t get updated on the Google Play Store.
Many of the features don’t require root access, so give it a try today as a last resort. As a reminder, don’t move or freeze any app unless you know what it is and does. Some may seem irrelevant, but are crucial to other aspects of the device. Basically, use caution and only mess with apps you’ve downloaded yourself.
At the end of the day what you want to do is head into settings and move as many apps to the SD card as possible. We’d recommend at least a 64GB Class 10 card. Giving you plenty of storage and good performance at the same time. I have all my apps, games, music, and any photo or video go to my 256GB microSD card by default. Saving space on my phone for what’s important for the system as a whole. Good luck, and drop us a comment below with any questions or concerns.