can’t move apps to SD card on Android

It’s not uncommon for Android users to get the error, ‘Can’t move apps to SD card.’ It happens when you try to move an app from your Android device’s default hard drive to an SD card that was installed. While the root causes are hard to pinpoint, and plentiful, there are solutions you can take advantage of.

What You Will Need…

  • A computer (if you choose to transfer files with a computer).
  • Your Android device.
  • A USB cable specific to your device. Use USB Type C for more modern Android phones and micro USB for others. Your standard Android charger will do.

Checking the SD Card’s Storage with your Android

1. Launch the ‘Settings’ app. It’s the GEAR icon. Find it on one of your Home screens or inside your App Drawer.

You can also open your ‘Quick Settings Menu’ by pulling down your dashboard. You’ll find the GEAR icon there as well.

2. Head down the menu and keep scrolling until you find ‘Storage.’ Select it.

3. Your Android device will display the device’s hard drive storage capacity as well as your SD card’s remaining storage.

Important: This method of checking for your SD card’s storage doesn’t always work. In fact, many Android devices actually display a single hard drive, even if an SD card has been properly installed. Android then takes the SD card’s storage capacity and gels it together with its own.

If you don’t see an SD card listed, you can separate the device’s hard drive from the SD card by using a computer. Head to the section “Checking the SD Card’s Storage with a PC” for details.

Checking the SD Card’s Storage with a PC

One of the root causes you should cross off your list is if your SD card is actually full or not. You might’ve received an error that it was, indeed, full. However, some of you may be completely confused if you happen to have a brand new SD card, making that impossible; that is a very common error when a specific app can’t be moved. Regardless, your SD card should be checked anyways if you’re using an SD card you’ve had for quite some time now.

1. Turn on your Android device.

2. Turn on your computer.

3. Plug the bigger end of the USB cable into the computer, preferably into USB 2.0 if one is available. Then plug the smaller end into your Android device’s charger port.

4. Input your PIN, pattern or password if you have one.

Media device (MTP)

5. On your Android device, you’ll be prompted with the decision of establishing a connection, also known as ‘Connect to PC.’ You decide what you’re establishing the connection for, in this case, select ‘Media device (MTP).’

On the off-chance that ‘Connect to PC’ doesn’t appear, open your notifications by expanding your ‘Quick Settings Menu.’ Locate the dashboard (or taskbar) at the top of the Android device. Tap it or tap and swipe down to expand. You should see a notification that says ‘USB for file transfer’ or ‘Transferring media files via USB.’ Select the option that pertains to your Android device and then establish the connection.

6. Computer-side, open the ‘Windows Startup’ menu. If you didn’t move the taskbar from its default position, you should find it at the bottom left corner of the screen. Or, alternatively, press the ‘Windows’ key.

This PC

7. Type anywhere in the menu, ‘This PC’ and click the app that appears in the search results. The icon is a computer screen.

Alternatively, you can click ‘File Explorer’ down at the bottom left corner, next to the Windows Startup menu. Afterwards, click ‘This PC’ on the left hand panel where the list of folders are.

Devices and drives

8. Locate ‘Devices and drives.’ Underneath, choose your Android device by double-clicking.

phone

9. If your SD card is properly installed, you’ll see it listed alongside your Android device’s hard drive. Windows will display how much of the SD card is used by the progression of a blue bar.

Developers Locked the App to Your Android

One of the most likely root causes of being unable to move apps to an SD on your Android. Certain apps, like most of the pre-installed apps found on your Android device, are locked to the Android device itself. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do except rooting your Android device.

Widget Support Breaks

An extension to developers locking apps, in this context, apps that support a widget function are almost entirely out of the question. The app would cease to function without the widget, becoming a storage nuisance on your SD card.

Apps are Linked to Account Related Data

Just about every application that has its hand in syncing, uses an account (like Google) or runs some kind of service on your Android device (like Google Play Store) are also off the table.

There Is Still Hope for Your Apps

It may seem bleak, at first, but there are a handful of methods that can allow you to move the apps to an SD card.

Use a Computer to Transfer

1. Head up to the section “Checking the SD Card’s Storage with a PC.” Repeat Steps 1 through 8. Double-click the hard drive that contains the apps you want to move.

2. Copy the app’s files and move them to the SD card.

Use Android’s Built-In Transfer Option

1. Launch the ‘Settings’ app. It’s the GEAR icon.

You can also open Settings by looking in your ‘Quick Settings Menu’ by pulling down the dashboard. You’ll find the GEAR icon there as well.

2. Keep scrolling down until you see ‘Apps.’ Go ahead and select it.

3. Locate the app you want to move and select it.

Force stop

4. In the app’s info, select ‘Storage.’

5. With an SD card properly installed, a new option will appear. Select ‘Move to SD card.’ However, you can’t move apps to an SD that aren’t capable of being moved, at least, not without outside software. If you can’t move the app, the option will grey itself out.

Root Your Android Device

Rooting your Android device can give you a wider range of control over your device, like moving apps that, normally, aren’t allowed to be moved.