It’s a common sight. You try and 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 Micro SD card is a convenient and cheap way of expanding your phone’s storage, and most versions of Android allow you to move your apps across to the card to free up space.
How you do it depends on what version you’re using. We’ll take a look at them all in this guide.
Using a Micro SD Card
Before you get started, there are a few points to consider. 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.
It isn’t possible to move pre-installed apps without root, 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 Micro SD card.
Use a Micro SD Card as Internal Storage
Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduced changes to the way phones can handle memory cards, and these changes continued into Android 7.0 Nougat and 8.0 Oreo.
You can now set Micro SD cards to function 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 be written to either as needed, and it all happens seamlessly. As a result, you have less cause to worry about where your apps are stored.
You need to set it up first. Your card will be wiped in the process, so make sure you’ve backed up any data you need:
- Insert the card into your phone. In the New SD Card detected notification that appears, tap Set Up then select Use as internal storage.
- Alternatively, go to Settings > Storage, tap the card, tap the menu button, and select Storage Settings. Tap Format as internal.
- In the next screen, tap Erase & Format. This will wipe your card.
This feature is called Adoptable Storage, and it relies on the assumption that you’re going to leave your card in your phone permanently. If you remove the card, you obviously won’t have access to the apps and data it contains. But the card is also encrypted, so you cannot put it in another device to copy data off it.
The big downside to adoptable storage is that some manufacturers choose not to offer it on their devices. If you don’t have it on yours, then you will have to continue moving your apps to your SD card manually.
Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 8.0 Oreo
Moving apps to a memory card is quick and easy on Oreo. The option isn’t available for every app, and not at all for pre-installed apps.
- Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > App info.
- Scroll down to find the app you want to move to the card and tap on it.
- Select Storage. If the app supports being moved to a card, you’ll see a section labelled Storage used. Hit the button marked Change.
- Select the card you want to move the app to, followed by Move.
To move the app back to internal storage, repeat the steps above but select Internal in the final step. You should do this especially if you want to change or remove your memory card.
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. Not all apps can be moved, and where they don’t support, it you won’t see the Change button in Step 3.
- Go to Settings > Apps.
- Locate the app you want to move to your Micro SD Card and tap on it.
- Go to Storage > Change and choose your card from the prompt box that opens.
- 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 choose Internal shared storage in Step 3.
Move Apps to an SD Card on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Moving apps to a Micro SD card is the same on Marshmallow as it is on Nougat.
- Go to Settings > Apps then tap on your chosen app.
- Tap Storage > Change then choose the card when prompted.
- 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 have on your card by swiping to the right hand tab in the App screen. This makes it easy to identify any that you may wish to move back in the future.
- Go to Settings > Apps and tap on the app you want to move to your SD card.
- 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.
- 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 4.0 KitKat
Support for Micro SD cards was extremely limited in all Android 4.x versions. The stock version didn’t include the ability to move apps to an external card, as Google seemed intent on phasing them out entirely. However, some manufacturers did opt to include the option in their own versions of the operating system.
If yours has it in KitKat, or in older versions, the process is straightforward:
- Go to Settings > Apps.
- Next, locate and tap the app you want to move to the card.
- Select Move to SD card. If this button isn’t available the app cannot be moved (or your phone doesn’t support it).
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.
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 you can explore to help you out. Apps2SD is a popular option, as is FolderMount, and both require your phone to be rooted.
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 either:
- 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, then 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 upwards.
The Best Way to Move Apps
The best way to move an app to your Micro SD 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 thing to use. It removes any need to manage your card.
- If your phone supports moving apps to the card otherwise, then 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.
Do you use adoptable storage, or have you tried Link2SD? Share your experiences and tips with us in the comments below.