Help Me Tom's Guide: How Do I Move Music to an SD Card?

Just because music is on your phone doesn't mean it has to stay there. Google Play Music, one of the more popular Spotify alternatives for Android, allows users to save tunes to external storage.

It gets complicated when you try and take it further, though, as we discovered when forum user Meaganchoate1 opened up a Pandora's jambox of complexity with this question:

"How do I take music from Google Play and transfer it to a 2G SD card?"

Yes, you can move songs out of Google Play Music, but what you can do with those tracks depends on how those songs wound up in the app. Music uploaded using Google Play Music Manager can be downloaded and played, but songs from the Google Play Music library contain Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, which means they cannot be opened outside of the app.

If you still want to pull songs off your phone, you're gonna need some tools. First, since no Android phone (and you can't do anything close to this on an iPhone) offers an SD card, you're going to need a microSD card and a microSD-to-SD card adapter.

SanDisk Ultra 64GB microSDXC Card with Adapter

After inserting your microSD card into your phone's microSD tray, open the Google Play Music app and tap the Menu icon at the top-right corner of the screen. Next, hit Settings, then storage location, and select the External storage option, which is your microSD card. Now, select the three-dots icon next to the songs you want to save, and watch the progress circles fill as the tracks download. Only save the songs you need; this gets more complicated if you've added more songs to your device.

Now, eject the tray from your phone, pop your microSD card into the SD card adapter and place that inside your PC. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the SD card (ours is named "SDHC D:"), open the Android folder, and open the folder named "data."

Next, open "," and access the folder named "files." Then open the folder in there named "music." Here, you'll see a giant stack of MP3 files with 5-digit-long names. Remember, you can open songs you uploaded to Google Play Music, but you can't use any other songs.

MORE: Best Music Apps for Rocking Out

It's worth noting that this also works for Amazon Prime Music, but that service also protects its files with DRM. But, if you ever bought a CD from Amazon, those tracks can be downloaded, and Amazon makes them easier to use by giving them relatively complete metadata including Artist, Album and Song Title information. Those tracks are under D://Android/media/

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Credit: Tom's Guide

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.