How to Move Files, Pictures & Apps to An SD Card on Android

SD cards clear internal storage so your Android device performs better

One common theme with smartphones and tablets is that they tend to become sluggish over time. The accumulation of apps, files, photos, and updates consume system resources, which results in slower operation. One way to free up space and improve the performance of your Android device is to transfer files to an SD card.

Instructions in this article apply to Android 7.0 and up. All steps are the same no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

What You Need to Save to an SD Card on Android

You can save data on your Android smartphone or tablet to an SD card so long as it supports OS version 4.0 or newer. High-capacity SD cards ranging from 4GB to 512GB aren't expensive. Double-check the maximum capacity of microSD card that your device supports before you buy.

If your Android tablet has a USB port, then you can transfer files using an external SD card reader.

Aside from clearing storage space, the other benefit of saving files (particularly music, videos, and photos) to an SD card is so that you can swap them to another smartphone or tablet.

How to Move Files From an Android Device to an SD Card

If you see a notification after you insert the microSD card, tap it to start transferring files. Otherwise:

  1. Open the My Files app. You may have to search for it.

    If you can't find a file manager app on your device, you can download one from the Google Play Store.

  2. Tap Internal Storage (or tap one of the options listed under Categories) and navigate to the files or folders you wish to move.

  3. Once inside the folder containing the files you want to transfer, tap the three dots in the top-right corner.

    Locate the files you wish to transfer to the SD card in the My Files app.
  4. Tap Edit.

  5. Select the files you wish to transfer, or tap All in the top-left corner.

  6. Tap the three dots in the top-right again and select Move.

    Select the files you wish to transfer in the My Files app.
  7. Tap SD card.

  8. Choose the desired destination folder, or tap Create folder.

  9. Tap Done to complete the transfer.

    Choose the destination folder on your SD card and select Done.

How to Move Apps to an SD Card

Android OS allows you to move apps to and from the SD card:

Some applications, such as preloaded system apps, cannot be stored externally.

  1. Open your device's Settings and tap Apps (or Apps and notifications on Android 8.0 and 9.0).

  2. Tap the app you want to move.

    Go to Settings > App and tap the app you want to transfer to the SD card.
  3. Tap Storage.

  4. Tap Change.

    If you do not see Change listed as an option, the app cannot be moved.

  5. Tap SD Card.

    Select Storage > Change and tap SD card.

How to Set Default Camera Storage to the SD Card

You can change your camera’s default storage location so that all photos and videos you take will be saved to the DCIM folder on the SD card:

Most stock camera apps offer this option, but if yours doesn’t, you can download a different camera app such as Open Camera, Camera Zoom FX, or Camera VF-5 from the Google Play Store.

  1. Open your camera app and tap the gear in the top-right corner to open the Settings.

  2. Tap Storage Location.

  3. Tap SD card.

    Open your camera settings and tap Storage Location to start saving photos and videos to the SD card.

How to Transfer Files to Long-Term Storage

Eventually, the SD card will fill up and run out of space. To remedy that, you can move files from the SD card to a laptop or desktop using a memory card reader. From there, you can move files to a high-capacity external hard drive or upload them to an online storage site like Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive. 

If you want to back up all of your files, you can save everything on your Android device to the cloud.