How to Move Android Apps to a Micro SD Card and Clear Space
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You try to install a new app and the Not Enough Space warning pops up. All those games, photos, and 4K videos have finally taken their toll.

If your phone has a memory card slot, then the solution is easy. A microSD card is a cheap way of expanding your phone’s storage, and you can move apps to an SD card on Android to free up space.

How you do it depends on what Android version you’re using. We’ll take a look at them all in this guide.

Using a microSD Card on Android

Before you get started, consider a few points.

Memory cards are slower than internal storage, so you may notice slightly worse performance for more resource-intensive apps. When picking a card, go for the fastest and largest one your phone can support—check your phone’s specifications to see what cards it’s compatible with How to Pick & Buy the Best SD Card for Your Needs How to Pick & Buy the Best SD Card for Your Needs What kind of SD card is right for you? Not all of them are the same, after all. Here are the minimum specs you should aim for depending any given activity or need. Read More .

It isn’t possible to move preinstalled apps without rooting, and even some third-party apps may not support it. Also, on older versions of Android, you might not be able to use widgets associated with apps you’ve moved to your memory card.

With all this in mind, let’s see how to move apps to a microSD card.

Use a microSD Card as Internal Storage

Android Marshmallow introduced changes to the way phones can handle memory cards, and these changes continued into the later versions of Android.

You can now set microSD cards to work as internal storage. Instead of having internal and external storage existing as separate spaces, Android views the card as an extension of the built-in memory.

Data and apps can write to either as needed, and it all happens seamlessly. As a result, you don’t need to worry about where your apps are stored.

You have to set it up first. Your card will be wiped in the process, so make sure you’ve backed up any data you need:

  1. Insert the card into your phone. When the New SD Card notification appears, tap Set Up.
  2. Next, you need to choose how your phone should use the card. Select Phone Storage on Android 9, or Use as Internal Storage on older versions. Alternatively, go to Settings > Storage, tap the card, tap the menu button, and select Storage Settings. Tap Format as internal.
  3. In the next screen tap Format SD Card, or Erase & Format. This will wipe your card.
  4. On Android 9 you’re offered the chance to move your content—including apps—onto the card. It also shows you how much space you’ll save. Hit Move Content to complete.

This feature is called Adoptable Storage, and it requires you to keep your card in your phone permanently. The card is also encrypted, so you cannot put it in another device to copy the data.

The big downside to adoptable storage is that some manufacturers choose not to offer it How Android Differs Depending on the Hardware Manufacturer How Android Differs Depending on the Hardware Manufacturer Not all Android devices are created equal. See how yours stands out from the crowd with our comprehensive guide. Read More on their devices. If you don’t have it, then you’ll have to continue moving your apps to your SD card manually.

Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 9.0 Pie

If your phone doesn’t support adoptable storage, it’s quick and easy to transfer apps to an SD card on Android Pie manually. Just remember that you can’t do it for every app, and not at all for the pre-installed apps.

  1. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > App info.
  2. Find the app you want to move in the list and tap it.
  3. Select Storage. If the app supports being moved to a card, you’ll see a button here labeled Change. Tap this.
  4. Select the SD Card in the Change storage dialog box. This brings up a confirmation screen. Tap Move to begin.

To move the app back to internal storage, repeat the steps above but select Internal shared storage in the final step. You should always do this when you want to change or remove your memory card.

Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 8.0 Oreo

The process for moving an app to the SD card on Android 8 is basically the same as for Android 9:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > App info.
  2. Scroll down to find the app you want to move to the card and tap on it.
  3. Select Storage. If the app supports being moved to a card, you’ll see a section labeled Storage used. Hit the button marked Change.
  4. Select the card you want to move the app to, followed by Move.

Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 7.0 Nougat

You can move apps to a memory card on Android 7.0 Nougat through Settings. However, you can’t move all apps, and where they don’t support it, you won’t see the Change button in Step 3.

  1. Go to Settings > Apps.
  2. Locate the app you want to move to your microSD Card and tap on it.
  3. Go to Storage > Change and choose your card from the prompt box that opens.
  4. Tap Move to complete the process.

Depending on the size of the app, it may take a few moments to complete (especially in the case of large games), so don’t touch your phone until it’s done. To move the app back, repeat the steps and choose Internal shared storage in Step 3.

Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Moving apps to a microSD card is the same on Marshmallow as it is on Nougat.

  1. Go to Settings > Apps then tap on your chosen app.
  2. Tap Storage > Change then choose the card when prompted.
  3. Hit Move to complete the process.

Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 5.0 Lollipop

Lollipop has less robust support for memory cards than later versions of Android, but you can still move apps from within Settings.

You’re limited in which apps you can place in your external storage; it depends on the developer supporting the option. Also, the entire app doesn’t move across to the card either—only part of it does.

You can see which apps you’ve got on your card by swiping to the right hand tab in the App screen, labeled On SD Card. This makes it easy to identify any that you may wish to move back in the future.

To move apps:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps and tap the app you want to move to your SD card.
  2. Next, under the Storage section, tap Move to SD Card. The button will be grayed out while the app moves, so don’t interfere until it’s done.
  3. If there’s no Move to SD Card option, the app cannot be moved.

Once it’s done, the Storage section will update to show how much of the app is now stored on the card (and how much is still in internal storage). The Move button will now read Move to Phone or Move to Device Storage. Tapping on this enables you to remove the app from the card.

Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 4.x and Earlier

Support for microSD cards was extremely limited in all Android 4.x versions (including KitKat, Jelly Bean, and Ice Cream Sandwich). Stock Android didn’t support the ability to move apps to an external card at all, as Google seemed intent on phasing cards out entirely. However, some manufacturers did opt to include the feature in their own versions of the operating system.

If your older device supports it, the process is straightforward:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps.
  2. Next, locate and tap the app you want to move to the card.
  3. Select Move to SD card. If this button isn’t available, you can’t move the app (or your phone doesn’t support doing so).

In the unlikely event that you’re still using an Android 2.x device, these steps are roughly the same ones you’ll encounter. Home screen widgets are not supported in these old versions—you’ll need to keep an app in internal storage if you want to use a widget.

If you don’t have the option on your phone, then you’ll need to look into a third-party app.

Move Apps to an SD Card Using Link2SD

If your phone doesn’t support moving apps to the SD card, or if you want to move an app that doesn’t support it individually, there are a few third-party apps that can help you out. Apps2SD is a popular option, as is FolderMount. Both require a rooted Android phone The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet So, you want to root your Android device? Here's everything you need to know. Read More .

We’re going to look at another choice, Link2SD, which has both root and non-root features. You can use it to move apps to your card in bulk, to “force-move” apps that don’t normally allow it, and to offload data folders for larger apps and games to your external storage.

First, launch the app and grant root permissions if your phone is rooted. Then tap the app you want to move and select an option:

  • Link to SD Card. This requires root and moves the entire app and its data to your card.
  • Move to SD Card. This doesn’t require root and only works if your phone supports moving apps to external storage. If you do have root, you can also force-move apps that don’t otherwise support it..
  • Link to SD Card (Data and Cache). Moves data files, and requires root.

To move more than one app at a time, tap the menu button in the top right-corner and choose Multi-select. Now tap all the apps you want to move, hit the menu button again, and choose either Link to SD card or Move to SD card. These are the same options as described above.

Link2SD is free, with a paid upgrade. It works on Android 2.3 and up.

Download: Link2SD (Free) | Link2SD Plus ($2)

The Best Way to Move Apps on Android

The best way to install apps on your microSD card depends on what version of Android you’re using, whether your phone’s manufacturer has implemented all the features, and what app you want to move.

In summary:

  • On phones that support adoptable storage, that’s the best choice. It removes any need to manage your card manually.
  • For phones that support moving apps to the card manually, that method is best and cleanest.
  • If your phone doesn’t support any of this, or if you have specific requirements, consider rooting and using Link2SD.

If your apps are taking up too much space, another good solution is to use the new range of Android Go apps 7 Lightweight Android Go Apps to Save Storage Space and Memory 7 Lightweight Android Go Apps to Save Storage Space and Memory Google's new Android Go apps provide lightweight alternatives to Maps, YouTube, and more. Here's what you should know and how to try them now. Read More instead. Not only are they smaller and take up less space, but they run faster on older or less powerful phones too.

Explore more about: Android Tips, Storage.

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  1. TPB
    October 25, 2018 at 12:46 am

    "Your card will be wiped in the process, so make sure you’ve backed up any data you need"

    Maybe the author could have explained that part of the process? I have Android 6.0.1 and my phone has 16GB internal phone memory (with about 2+GB of unremovable bloatware) and a 64GB microSD card currently setup as external memory. I was originally (2 years ago) that it would simply work the way adoptable (adaptable?) memory does but it doesn't, it only holds things like music and video. HOWEVER, when I link to my PC, that "external" memory shows up in File Explorer and is very easy to use.

    But now I have a ton of stuff on the microSD card so how do I save it and reinstall it?

  2. Martin W
    October 23, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    I have several smartphones. One has no SD slot. Two others have earlier Android versions and (until I got a little info from the above) had no way I could find to move apps. One single phone runs Android 6.0 and gave instructions on moving apps. That worked for a short time, for some apps. Then my SD card was apparently destroyed (messages such as corrupted, can't be found, not formatted, etc.). A second card shared a similar fate. (They were both medium-expensive.) I now have a third card in that phone and use it only for such things as books and some info overflow. No apps! It works when used like that. I don't intend to try apps on SD again for a long time!

  3. Marek
    September 16, 2018 at 3:12 am

    Two questions:

    1. If I move an app to SD card and uninstall it. Will all the files related to that app automatically be deleted?

    2. If I move many apps to SD card. When I reset the phone to factory condition - will all the files on the SD card related to the moved apps be deleted automatically?

  4. Gregg Eshelman
    May 2, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    How about an app mover app *that actually does the moving* instead of just telling you which ones can be moved? You still have to go through the settings and move them yourself.

  5. Larry W. Virden
    January 18, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I move apps regularly to my SD card. This is very useful, since the majority of my Galaxy S7 memory is used by the OS and apps that, at times, I don't need or want and yet I cannot remove.

    What I would love is a 100% reliable app that would either move the apps for me or at the very list, display the list of apps that are not yet moved but can be moved.
    Right now, I have to look at dozens of apps to figure out what specific ones can be moved.
    Even if I could just sort the application display by most recently updated, I would probably be able to get thru the moves more quickly.
    But best of all would be an app that would see that the app can live on the SD card and just move it for me.

  6. TommyLee
    January 6, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Total waste of time. Every time the app is updated, it moves itself back to internal storage. Unless you want to turn auto updates off, and move the app back again after every update, then don't even waste you time with this nonsense :p

    • isse
      January 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      I've not found this to be the case (maybe a quirk of the phone model or problem with the card?).

      However, I do find that periodically the icons for SD-stored apps disappear from where I've placed them and need to be replaced. It's annoying, but I've made it a bit easier by taking screenshots of my icon arrangement on each page so that I can be reminded of what goes where (and occasionally update those screenshots). I've found references to this issue going back years. Apparently Google doesn't think it's worth correcting.

  7. isse
    January 5, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    I wish that Google Play Store would provide information as to which apps can be stored on SD and which can't. I never know until I download them. If I'm choosing one for a basic task and have a choice of several well-rated apps, I'll prefer the one that can be stored on SD.

    I'm not sure Google gets this at all. After all, their Pixel doesn't even have an SC card slot. Sure, they give you cloud storage for data, but what if you're someone who likes lots of apps?

  8. likefunbutnot
    December 27, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    If an adopted storage card fails, you'll almost certainly have to factory reset your device. SD cards definitely fail, so bear that in mind. I prefer to use SD storage for bulk data and to limit the total volume of software on my devices to an amount appropriate to the internal storage of the device. In rare cases when a device is fast but has limited storage (an nVidia Shield tablet might be the poster child for this), it's usually best to use a tool like link2SD in favor of adopting storage, if only to minimize the loss of data on the tablet should the card die.

    • Tabarane Hamza
      December 28, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      I agree with you

    • Kannon Y
      December 30, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      You can reduce the failure rate of a microSD card through two methods: first, by buying high endurance cards. 3D NAND and MLC NAND are way more durable compared to TLC cards. But unfortunately, most manufacturers don't advertise that point.

      Second, overloading a microSD card that has been marked by the OS as the primary drive will cause it to fail sooner. Unfortunately, it seems that our only only is to use no more than 75% of the card's capacity. Some sites recommend loading no more than 50%.

      • likefunbutnot
        December 30, 2017 at 4:27 pm

        @Kannon,

        I've been trying to find high reliability cards for a while. My company has a small fleet of 128GB Surface Pro devices that desperately need extra storage and in spite of any claim of additional reliability from high endurance cards, I've not found it to be so, at least not from a manufacturer I'd trust. i have a small pile of failed 64 and 128GB SD cards on my desk at work that tells me that they all kind of suck regardless of their provenance. No, those aren't Android devices, but the issues seem common to all currently manufactured cards.

        • Kannon Y
          December 30, 2017 at 4:40 pm

          That is horrendous. I hope that I have not been repeating yet another internet falsehood. As you already know, pretty much all data shows that microSD cards have a super high failure rate. They do not have SLC caches as far as I'm aware so all writes go straight onto the NAND. I suspect that if it has caching enabled, overprovisioning may be a crucial step since this is not done by default.

          My own experience have been remarkable, though. I have multiple test devices that are configured to use the microSD card slot as the primary write location (which IIRC, also does write caching). The supposed best is the SanDisk Extreme, which I've never used. But all my MLC and 3D (TLC) NAND cards have been rock solid. Some for years. Have you tried using the fairly expensive SLC microSD cards that are out there?

          Do you have a rough estimate for what your failure rates are?

        • likefunbutnot
          December 30, 2017 at 4:52 pm

          @Kannon Y,

          Off the top of my head I'll say that across SanDisk, Verbatim, Samsung and Transcend cards in 64GB+ sizes, two out of three fail within a year. I'm not buying enough of any one card to do real statistical sampling, but I do buy dozens of them in a given year.
          I've also never successfully RMA'd an SD card from Samsung (I never get anything back from the idiots at their repair depot in New Jersey), though Sandisk and Transcend are both pretty painless to deal with.

          I know why device manufacturers hate the cards and the slots but they're still necessary. Even a 250GB device can feel a bit cramped if it might be used to store a lot of audio or video content.