How to Move Android Apps to an SD Card

Many Android phones — particularly budget models — come with only 16 or 32GB of internal memory, with a chunk of that already taken up by the operating system and preloaded software. After you start adding your own apps, shooting photos and videos and downloading podcasts, you risk running out space. Fortunately, a number of Android devices sport microSD card slots that allow you to expand your storage capacity by inserting an expensive memory card, with 64GB units costing around $30 and 32GB models coming in under $15.

Here's how to move apps to the microSD card using Android's built-in application management features.

What to Know about Adding Storage

First, not all Android devices allow you to install portions of an installed app to the microSD card, but for those that do, it’s just a quick trip to the application manager and a button press away. Most flagship phones have moved away from support for this feature, with the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S5 among the last to support it; it is more commonly found in mid-range to low end hardware, but these are often devices that could use the extra storage.

MORE: Android Guide: Tips, Tricks and How-Tos for Nougat and Marshmallow

Unfortunately, even if your smartphone supports the feature, not all apps do. Large apps such as games leave most of their data on the internal storage. For example, Asphalt 8 puts just 64MB of data on the microSD card while leaving the remaining 1.4GB to fill up your phone or tablet. That said, you can save some space this way, particularly if you have a lot of apps installed and move as many as possible to a microSD card.

Move Apps to SD Card Using Application Manager

1. Navigate to Settings on your phone. You can find the settings menu in the app drawer.

2. Tap Apps.

3. Select an app you want to move to the microSD card.

4. Tap Storage.

5. Tap Change if it’s there. If you don’t see the Change option, the app cannot be moved. If you are unable to find any apps with this option, it is likely that your device does not support the feature.

6. Tap Move.

If you wish to move an app back to the internal memory, hit the Change button again and select Internal Storage.

Use SD Card as Internal Storage

If your device does not support moving apps to a microSD card there’s another option, first introduced in Android Marshmallow, that may be the answer for you. This feature is called Adoptable or Flex Storage, and it allows you to format a microSD card to act like added internal storage. Again, not all devices with a microSD slot will support this feature: Motorola, HTC, Huawei and NVIDIA have all chosen to enable Flex Storage, while Samsung and LG have to date removed it.

There are a few factors to consider before enabling this feature. You will want the fastest microSD card that you can find to ensure smooth performance, at least Class 10 or UHS-I and preferably UHS-3. Any data present on the microSD card will be erased when you format it as internal storage, and from that point, it will be unusable in other devices (unless you reformat it again). Finally, remember that if you remove this microSD card from your phone, you will break functionality to any apps or content you’ve moved to it.

1. Navigate to settings on your phone. You can find the settings menu in the app drawer.

2. Tap Storage.

3. Select your SD card.

4. Tap the overflow menu button in the upper-right corner.

5. Select Storage Settings.

6. Tap Format as Internal.

7. Tap Erase & Format. If the system determines that your microSD card is too slow it will prompt you with a warning here that it will degrade performance.

8. Tap Move now. After making the selection you will tap next and initiate the transfer to your microSD card. The system will indicate roughly how long the transfer will take and how much data will be moved to your SD card.

9. Tap Done.

Your SD card will now be listed immediately below the internal shared storage and the system will use it as additional internal storage in the future.

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