What to Know

  • First: Settings > Storage Settings > SD Card > Menu (three dots) > Storage settings.
  • Then, select Format as internal > FORMAT SD CARD > Move content > Done
  • No option to format it as internal? It means your device doesn’t support using SD cards as internal storage.

This article explains how to set an SD card as the default storage device on Android.

How to Set an SD Card as the Default Storage Device on Android

Some Android devices allow you to set an SD card as the internal storage device. This allows you to install apps directly to the SD card and avoid the trouble of constantly moving over other files if your device doesn’t have a lot of built-in storage space. This process requires at least Android 6.

This option can be disabled by the device manufacturer, so it isn’t always available even if your phone has Android 6 or newer. If your phone does support this option, you’ll see it in the storage manager.

Here’s how to set an SD card as the default storage device on Android:

  1. Insert an SD card into your device.

    An SD card being inserted into an Android device.

    Your phone may have a micro SD card slot, a micro SD card tray, or its tray may be shared with both the SIM and the SD card.

  2. Open Settings > Storage Settings.

  3. Select your SD card.

    If it isn’t already formatted, you’ll be prompted to format it for use with Android before you can proceed.

  4. Tap the menu icon (three dots) in the upper right corner.

    Settings, SD card, and menu icon (three dots) highlighted in SD card management on Android

  5. Tap Storage settings.

  6. Tap Format as internal.

  7. Tap FORMAT SD CARD.

    Storage Settings, Format as internal. and Format SD Card highlighted in Android settings

  8. Tap Move content.

  9. Tap Done. Your SD card will now function as internal storage.

    Move Content and Done highlighted in Android SD card management.

Why Use an SD Card as Internal Android Storage?

The option to use an SD card as internal storage is primarily useful for Android devices that don’t have a lot of built-in storage space. If your phone has a small amount of storage and an SD card slot, then setting a large, fast SD card as the internal storage method will let you download more apps, store more photos and videos, and can even speed up the use of the device.

The issue with using an SD card as internal storage is that SD cards are typically slower than built-in storage. That isn’t always the case, but it typically is. Your device will even warn you if your SD card is especially slow because some apps won’t run correctly if the storage isn’t fast enough. Saving and loading photos, videos, and other files can also take noticeably longer on slow cards.

Why Can’t I Set My SD Card as Internal Android Storage?

Using an SD card as internal storage was first introduced with Android 6, so it isn’t available at all on devices with older versions of the operating system. If your device has a newer version of Android, and you don’t see the option to format the SD card as internal, then it has probably been disabled by the manufacturer.

Some phone manufacturers disable this feature because their phones don’t have SD card slots, and others do it because using a slow SD card as internal storage results in a poor user experience. So rather than allowing you to have a poor experience, they disable the feature altogether.

If you do see the option to set your card as internal storage, but it won’t work, there may be a problem with the card or your device. In that case, you can try to fix the corrupted SD card, make sure your phone is updated, and try a different SD card to make sure it’s actually a problem with the first one.

If you can’t set your SD card as internal storage, but the card does work, you can still move files and a lot of apps to the card. Some apps can only run on internal storage, but you can move Android apps to an SD card.

FAQ

  • How do I access my SD card storage on Android?

    To access your SD card on Android, go to the Files app. Scroll down and tap Internal Storage under Storage Devices.

  • How do I recover deleted photos from an SD card on Android?

    To recover deleted photos from an SD card, use an app like DiskDigger. Recovering files with DiskDigger requires root access to your smartphone or tablet.

  • How do I move files to an SD card on Android?

    To move files to an SD card on Android, go to the Files app and locate the file. Long press the file to select it, then tap the three dots > Move to > Internal Storage.

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