Moving apps to the SD card on the Samsung Galaxy S4

Apps-to-SD support is coming to the Galaxy S4 in a new software update - here's how to use it.

Samsung's answer to the controversy over storage space on the Galaxy S4 has been to resurrect an old Android feature -- the ability to move apps to your SD card. By offloading heavier apps to your expandable storage (the S4 supports microSDXC cards up to 64GB) you're able to save precious internal storage for other stuff, like the many apps that can't be moved to the SD card. That's right, just like in the Froyo (Android 2.2) days, developers have to specifically allow you to move apps to the SD card, and some popular apps don't support the feature.

Nevertheless, if you're big on gaming, the latest mobile titles can take several hundred megabytes each, and the ability to move these apps to the SD card is a great way to save space. The update to allow apps to be moved to the SD card is rolling out now to unlocked German Galaxy S4s, and other regions and carriers should follow in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, you can check past the break for our video walkthrough.

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

  • This is ONE thing I really miss on the S3. Mind you, I just fried my ExtSD card so not to worry!
  • I really wish they would have given the 16gb AFTER the software. It makes sense, they advertise it as a 16gb device, why not make it such? It couldn't be to hard to do... Mind you I love this phone, but it really gets on my nerves I have so little storage on device. Kinda reminds me of the DROID Charge...
  • How can you make this comment? HD manufacturers don't state the capacity "AFTER" the OS has been installed, why should phone manufacturers have to?
  • well, in a computer you are free to decide which OS you install.. and without braking the warranty, this isn't allowed on phones..
  • But you still have to install something on it and that requires space regardless.
  • DOS 6.22 has a pretty small footprint, so small it could be considered negligible.
  • But still requires space, would you be required to disclose that as a HD manufacturer ? People are starting a witch hunt because manufacturers aren't stating OS requirements for storage space, it always going to require something whether it's large or small. Maybe it you're buying a $600 phone or entering a 2 yr contract you should do a little research.
  • Do you have ANY idea of what the reasoning is behind not having Move to SD enabled on the S3? Simple: in the words of samsung, paraphrased, 'there is ample room in the 16gb that the phone comes with, that Move to SD will not be enabled. So, yes, with that and the power if the ohone, we're going to whine about the overhead already occupied by system resources, that we can't move anywhere else so we have that space for the apps we wanted.
  • The ability to move apps to SD card was lost not because Samsung took it away. It was google that took it away in Android 4.0 and beyond. No other 4.0+ handset allows you to do it either. Samsung is actually bringing it back with their own software update that goes against Google's spec.
  • Don't you think both computer and phone companies should have to advertise the available memory for their products? It just seems right.
  • When you installing a 1-tb hard drive into a computer, using up ~20gb for the OS doesn't seem like a big deal. That's like only 2% of the overall storage used? It's not as though they are flooding half of it with their own bloatware. But when you have only 16gb of internal storage, using 50% of it for the OS alone would be a pretty big deal, IMO. I think that is something worth pointing out, not because you have to, but because you should.
  • Everyone does this. The only problem with Samsung is that they put a lot in the OS... enough to bring the available space down (after the OS) to 9.x GB. My zenbook was supposed to come with 120gb. God knows it didn't. __________ Good for Sammy. I'm aware it's only out to International S4s right now? Anyway, hope it comes to the rest soon. I rooted my device specifically for this, lol.
  • 16gb or any memory advertised will never have the full storage available.. Even stock android doesn't have the full 16gb available but it's much better than the 9gb available for s4. Posted via Android Central App
  • HTC you just lost some gamers. Not a lot, just enough..
  • Why would a mobile phone gamer have chosen a phone without a SD card slot anyway? Even if Samsung didn't enable apps to SD, people who have both can choose to save their pictures, videos, music, & other media to the SD so their internal storage can be used for game files.
  • At least someone is thinking.
  • That's exactly what I do. I seen so many comments wait how the internal storage gets filled up with photos, videos and music etc that there's barely any space for apps.. I just thought to myself lol get a sd card put all media's on there and just use the built in storage for apps.. I have always done this even when I had plenty of built in storage available.. Have all media on sd card, when you get a new phone it's as simple as just using the same sd card and there you have all your media on your shiny new phone... It's one of the main reasons why I will always support sd cards. Posted via Android Central App
  • Absolutely brilliant statement. I cannot agree more!
  • you're all stupid and none of you got the point :
    even if you put your media files on ext sd, it has only 9gb for apps so clearly after 4 or 5 big games it's full.
    moreover if you have lots of pics even in the sd card, you have a .thumbnails folder in the internal sd which can be as big as 1gb.
    so clearly no, putting all your media on the sd isn't enough, it's not brillant it's stupid.
  • Thank you for writing this! The entire reason I bought the expandable memory version of the s4 was so that I could buy a 64 gb sd card and put a ridiculous number of apps on it. Why would I think to check if you're allowed to store apps on the external memory? I can see there being some DRM issues associated with storing apps on external drives, but someone with enough desire to break a software license can easily do so even with this shoddy "protection." They're compromising the consumer experience to prevent illicit software distribution even though the vast majority of their user base will never consider that even as an option. I'm a mobile developer and I'm arguing for this. I'm not worried about anyone stealing my software.
  • Bravo, Samsung! Only they have the cojones to stick it to Google for taking away this feature. I'm willing to bet that gutless HTC and LG will never be brave enough to defy Google and add App-to-SD feature. If I wanted a phone with no microSD card and/or App-to-SD feature, I would have just bought the iPhone 5.
  • Actually "gutless" LG has implemented this feature, after receiving the 4.1.2 JB update on my Optimus L9.
  • my apologies... so it's just "gutless" HTC then... :)
  • You have no idea what a mess apps2sd is.
  • Not really never had an issue.. As long as you just move apps.. People usually get issues when they move widgets. Posted via Android Central App
  • I've never had any issues with moving apps over either. Lol Posted via Android Central App
  • I'm certain someone in 1 billion devices Android has will have move2sd problems among the 800k apps. But generally speaking, it works well.
  • im thinking the same!!!!!!! u just toke the words out of my lips!!
  • i just hope that the new batch of phones coming out by years end get some decent storage if they dont have an sd card. With games approaching 1gb its crazy to only have 16gb or 32gb and no more. i have a n4 and am deleting music and games on a weekly basis. Cant wait to see what comes out....waiting for n5/motox/???
    please please please if no sd at least 64gb.
  • 1GB? A lot of popular games have already surpassed the 2.3GB mark. :)
  • I can't believe that oems are not seeing or just ignoring the fact that top end games are surpassing the 1gb size easily and that even 16gb for a heavy mobile gamer is not enough. Posted via Android Central App
  • Cool! Now, if only certain apps will allow me to direct thier caches to the SD card, all will be well in the world (I'm looking at you, Google Play Music!).
  • Wonderful. Now what about all the DRM content I download - movies from Google Play, Music from Spotify and Google Music, etc. It's my understanding that content cannot be moved. When I can move that content to the SD card, I'll be happy. Until then, give me the 32 GB version I want by Aug 15, 2013 or I'll have to consider another phone.
  • DRM for a reason... cause you could easily copy from the SD card and give to someone else. That's why I don't buy that kind of content from the Play Store.
  • Exactly. I buy my music from Amazon and I can do what I want with it.
  • Music from google works exactly the same. Its only movies/ shows that cant be shared or opened in just any app.
  • I'm curious how you do that. I've noticed that a lot of the music I get from Amazon has a lot of crazy code at the beginning of the file name. Whenever I try to move one of those songs to my SD card or my computer, it breaks. I've had that issue on a couple of phones and different SD cards. So, I'm fairly confident it's an Amazon issue.
  • I've bought tons of albums from Amazon over the years. I take advantage of their 100 albums for $5 each they have each month. I've never had a problem moving my files around nor playing them on any device.
  • That's a bullshit excuse. Nintendo and Sony require you to download games and apps to memory cards, so why is Google so against it? Samsung actually has the balls to do something about it.
  • Why this feature was removed by Google is beyond me. This move from SD cards is a terrible idea. I don't want to save my files in the cloud and should have that option if I want. I realize there is a way to mod my Note to so that the SD card becomes the internal storage but this should be happening out the box.
  • Google wants Android to be more like the iPhone. Strangely, Apples seems to want the iPhone to be more like Android.
    (as evidenced by the release of Android coypcat, a.k.a. iOS 7)
  • Because its full of problems, see thread below. Apps are much more stable on internal storage and a lot of apps don't support it, also widget and the main part of the game files have to stay internal I believe its only the apk files that can be stored on the SD card. Google ditched for a reason, not just to p*ss customers off.
  • lol I've never had any problems whatsover with the previous app2sd so why not let it exist for those who want it (even in a hidden option in dev for example so that noobs can't use it awkwardly and complain about it)
  • Part of the reason that it was disabled, is *BECAUSE* it is removable memory. The operating system needs to both be able to identify the removal an insertion of the memory card (which it does), but also needs to be able to determine the following: Is this an installed app?
    Is this app for this phone?
    Was this app purchased by this user?
    Are all necessary components for this app installed on phone (or memory card)? A good analogy of how it "could" work correctly is the way apps on OSX (And the iPhone) are created. An app on OSX is a container file (like a zip file), it has it's own file structure within itself, and the components needed to run the app, as well as hooks to the operating system for the shared components. While the development tools for creating applications for android has come a long way toward "self-containment" for the apps. The apps, when installed will install support files as part of the main file system. Thus if you remove the SD and delete the app (or format the card on your PC, etc.) Android has no way of knowing that, thus leaving support files and crap on the phones precious memory. Once Android comes up with a generally supported way to keep apps self-contained, it'll come to the point where it doesn't matter if the app is on your phone, on the SD card, or in the Cloud (dropbox, etc.)
  • Then explain why Sony and Nintendo allow you to download games and apps to memory cards (Vita and 3DS). Google doesn't know what they're doing.
  • Please port to GN2
  • Thats great, what about the Note 2?
  • +1
  • +1
  • Hope the S3 gets some love as well.
  • This is only for the UK version right now, correct? Hopefully, the US gets this update soon. I miss App2SD so freaking badly.
  • Like I said in another post.. Google should have never removed this feature knowing there are phones out there with not enough internal space. They need to bring it back with KLP!
  • of problems, there's a reason Google dropped apps2sd. Its just Samsung scrambling to answer the complaints about the pathetic amount of space provided.
  • Bingo.
  • Oh my god so many whiners here on ac lately. Apps2sd sucks. Do you realize that a app has to code this info into the app? You all think it is so easy just click a box and magic happens. What happens when you're SD fries or you lose it. Your going to come here and post a sob story crying that you lost your stuff. There's a reason why Google stopped it and it's just not about the cloud.
  • Um...if the SD card fries, you insert a new card and reinstall. I've never had to do it, but it's possible.
  • I really hope the GS3 gets this!
  • Samsung screwed up. App2sd will result in force closes. Many App developers will not accommodate App2sd. Proof: many lazy developers are lagging after 1 1/2 years with the menu button. Best solution :buy a smartphone with at least 32 GB internal storage, 64 GB better. Samsung GS4 a lemon, unfortunately!
  • Yeah but if you're moving apps, you're most likely moving big games.
    Most big games work with A2SD.
  • *shakes fist at US carriers*
  • Have some people forgot about the "force closes and freeze-ups" this feature caused? I think due to the many complaints Samsung panicked, then decided to enable this feature. It will come back to bite Samsung.
  • I've never had an issue with app to sd on my force closes etc.. Of course I made sure I didn't move thinks like widgets or live wallpapers and also had a fairly high speed sd card.. At least the option is available now and as long as the app supports it should be fine.. My guess is many people who had issues were because they had a low class sd card, or loved things like widgets and complain they didn't work or with root moved apps that were never optimised to work with apps to sd.. Am not saying people never had issues but if used correctly it worked fine for me.. Posted via Android Central App
  • Same here. I am glad that I will have the option to use it. I just wonder how many developers will code for this since it's still not a part of official Android. On the other hand, there are alot of S4s out there so it may be worth it for them to add code for a particular phone.
  • Any chance this software update also includes a fix for the wifi issues?! I'd love to get on the network when I'm at work so i'm not draining my battery and data plan with the 4G all day. My Charge was able to do it, how is it possible my GS4 is not?!
  • Great news..Just bought a 64gb micro sd yesterday!
  • Sammy should give this lump a 32Gb internal drive. Or stop filling it with pointless junk. Berks! Posted via Android Central App
  • The new ROM shaves 800MB off the install base. Not great but it is something. If you know what your doing with apps2SD it works fine. Frying SDcards were a samsung thing from a way back (software error I believe). I am still using one of my original SDcards from my fascinate so obviously it never hit me. Apps2SD is a good thing. It really is. Goggle does have its reasons for removing the feature. They are good ones. I don't have a problem with it being gone. I also do not have a problem with Sammy bringing it back. Options are a good thing Also, OEMs need to get on the stick and offer 32GB as the Minimum. That is next year though.
  • Alex, Why aren't the larger storage models been available to the other Carriers in the US??? That would solve this problem. I have a Nexus One that I rooted and downloaded a certain app that made just about all apps available to download to the sd-card. The app worked great and saved tons of int space that was much needed on the Nexus One. Tha phone feels so good in the hand. I would love to see HTC build another look alike of the HTC One but just a little larger and with all the modern killer specs. Not to forget that little white ball to move thing around very easy. Love that phone.
    Always a great job Alex.
  • Any rooted user already can install large games to their external SD card on this or other devices. I have several 1GB+ games that I play this way. Not sure why more people don't know if this app (which was originally created for to address the file size issue with Gameloft, but works for any game), but it is one of my favorites: GL2SD / GL to SD I can't provide a link, but I recommend it. Also there is an older writeup on XDA (the app has been updated quite a bit since then).
  • There's a significant issue with this post that I'm surprised no one else caught: The update DOES NOT allow you to move app data to the card. ALL you can move is the APK. So let's say you have a game where the APK is only 100 MB, but the app data is 2 gigs. You're still stuck with that 2 gigs on your internal memory, and the 100 MB is the only thing you can put on the card.
  • The app I mentioned above (GL2SD) moves game data and is compatible with this device.
  • My Nexus One ran out of memory for system updates, so I had to upgrade. I still carry the N1 for a mp3 player for when I walk. I'd like to be able to download maps of the areas I'm in, but the phone wants to put the data in the system memory. I should be able to move the data to the SD card.
  • I got the update already and moved some of the apps to sd card, but when I checked the sd card with file manager, I couldn't see what had been moved there. The file structure is essentially still the same. And I don't think app data can be moved. For example, my Evenote offline notes, Kindle's ebooks, etc. still remain in internal memory. Those are the real culprits that take up spaces. Samsung should have given us something like Foldermount (, letting us create symbolic folders without having to root.
  • Maybe, like Foldermount, you are just seeing a mirror image listing of the APP and the APP itself is actually on the SD Card?
  • This phone is starting to piss me off. Correction it is pissing me off!! The System storage is a joke, a couple apps and games and it craps itself from being full. Im not a fan boy and I owned the original Sgs1 and 2 before most. The Htc one was buttery smooth I didn't even mess with it just used it and cranked mad tunes, Sgs4 Im still not settled with it as my business phone after having it longer than the One. Ps S4 is laggy as mentally retarded Kid with ADHD.
  • Wait a minute.. a OS should treat all memory as paged if the internal memory is too small. Imagine if windows or Linux was restricted to just one logical storage unit.. Time for smart phones to get with the times and allow programs or data to be stored anywhere a mount point is made by the OS. Sure you can move an SD card to another phone but you can do the same with a disk drive.. The way to manage the DRM and/or piracy concerns. Keep the metadata or license key on the phones internal memory, and allow anything to be installed anywhere that the SD performance meets the design spec.. I.e. An Apptosd feature IF implemented properly should not be an end user issue. And as far as enabling it in an android app, a single compiler build switch should manage the ability to allow this, without the developer making any program changes! Operating systems have been doing this for years.. Wait isn't android Linux based.. Dah..enough said. There will never be enough phone internal storage.. So a lack of a reliable ApptoSD featute will eventually limit what your smartphone can do. So either they make it work or its time to run those multitasking Apps and games on a real device that supports memory and storage expansion option's at the consumer level. Then the phone can go back to being a low cost phone where the battery might last a week or two!
  • Suggestion, Paragraphs are much easier to read.
  • Love my samsung galaxy s4 32 gb waiting on my 64gb sd card which should be here today.I hope to be set with space for a while.Thanks samsung for the app to sd update!!
  • Question 1:I have an S4. I moved podcasts and pictures from internal to sd. I designated the new path to the pictures, in files>settings>set image directory. I can't access my pictures via the usual gallery>albums. Question 2: Concerning the gallery, I can find the phot gallery folder, but no albums sub folder. Is there one? Thanks
  • What about us poor S3 users? I'd love to be able to move my apps to the sd card. I bought a 32gb card which I cant use.
  • Good thing HTC puts tons of internal storage in their phones. 32GB HTC One here I come!
  • My s4 gt-i9505 has apps on sdcard 1 day then they are on my phone memory the next and they keep jumping back and forth from internal memory to sdcard to internal memory. Its a pain
  • doesn't work for all apps!