Moving non-movable apps from phone to SD card in Android

EDIT: Android OS has come a long way since my post. Things might have changed completely. You can read through provided you don’t blame me for breaking your phone and as long as you don’t comment that this is article is old.

So now you bought your new Android-powered smartphone and started exploring its flexibility and frequently using the Play Store to download the much-hyped 1000000000000000000+ apps (crap!). There are only a handful of apps with good UI and hardware compatibility and feel like they can outrun the Apple apps. But, that’s none of the reason. At least some apps are really small in size and give us only what we really need and not anything else.

Now that you have installed your long-time-seeking apps on your droid, you find out that your phone’s internal memory went for a toss (mine have just 420Mb). Damn! What the hell. So you use your hardly-used mind and go to the application properties and check for an option of “Move to SD card” and to the most pathetic way you find the option is disabled. Damn! What the hell 2.

What to do in this case when you have to choose between your favourite music player and a smooth running home screen? The answer is obvious, BOTH.

There are many apps which get saved on the phone memory by default. You cannot move them even by using an apps2SD app. These apps are given the default install location as phone memory by the developer. So you need to override this setting in order to enable the option to move. I will explain the method in a very lucid manner so that a novice droid user (who thinks his phone is best among the rest) can understand and do it.

Step 1: Install the Android SDK.

  • Android SDK or Software Development Kit contains the set of UI, IDE and commands through which you can debug and tweak your Android OS.
  • You need to download the SDK from the Google Android developer website. You will also need Java to run the SDK.
  • This is how the SDK looks. Select ‘Android SDK Platform-tools’ and hit Install packages.

Android SDK

Step 2: Setting up your phone.

  • You need to set up your phone in the debugging mode. You can do it by going to Settings > Applications > Development and checkmark all the 3 options. Note that I use a Sony Ericsson phone so this path may/may not differ. I check marked all the 3 options just to be sure.
  • Check the below screenshots to get an idea.

Android debug mode

Step 3: The Actual Fun part…

  • Open the Command Prompt on your Windows and drive through the following folder: C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools. Use the command ‘cd’ and ‘cd\’ for this purpose.
  • If your phone is not detected then probably you will need to install some drivers. Download the OEM USB Drivers. Do not worry. It will work in most of the cases. It should work, isn’t it? After all, you have the smartest and the most expensive droid.
  • Next, run the below commands to get the things you want.

        adb devices – Acknowledges the Android devices connected to the computer. Do this first to assure that the phone is being detected. You will see a serial ID number if detected.

        adb shell pm get-install-location – This results in a numerical value which shows your phone’s default install location (0: Auto, 1: phone, 2: external).

        adb shell pm set-install-location 2 – This sets the default install location to the external storage.

  • Now you are done with the magic. You can type in adb shell pm get-install-location to verify if the default location is 2:external.
  • Do not experiment with the commands unless you are very sure of the risk since it can harshly affect the system. In some cases, if you break the entire command into parts and try to run, you might get an Access Denied alert.

Step 4: Move your apps from phone memory to SD card.

  • Disconnect your phone from your computer.
  • Go to the properties of your app and you will find that the option to move the app to SD card has been enabled.
  • What next? Simply move it to your SD card and you are done.
  • Check the Before and After properties of the app.

Android application


  • If you have too many apps to move, you should better use small apps like add2sd. This will show all the movable apps on your phone.


The magic has been done. Now you will have plenty of free phone space and your phone will be as smooth as butter.

A recommendation that you should revert the phone to its original settings. i.e. setting the default install location as 0: Auto using the command adb shell pm set-install-location 0. This way you may avoid any issues with the phone in future.



  • Do not move the following apps:
    1. Widgets – they will not work if you move them to the SD card.
    2. System tools – Follow this instruction or crash your system.
    3. Important apps – Do not move such important apps which you use too frequent or which have sensitive information. You may never know when the SD card dies out or becomes inaccessible.
  • Be sure to back up the apps when you are changing your SD card in the future. You will still need to use this tweak once you restore them back.
  • Tried and tested on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, IceCream Sandwich and KitKat.

If you succeed in moving your apps to SD than probably I deserve a small treat from you.

For all you people who say I have copied this from the internet; Yes I have done this. But I took the pain to write it down in a lucid way.

Appreciations and comments are accepted, honoured. For the rest, do hell with ya. I do not give a damn.

55 thoughts on “Moving non-movable apps from phone to SD card in Android”

    1. Hi Geric,

      Can you tell me the apps which didn’t move? I assume there are some system apps which may not have permissions of moving to an SD card.

      Give me the apps name, i will try to find out something for it…

      1. Hey!
        Yes, indeed there apps cannot be moved. M not sure why. Maybe there is some permission constraints. I tried to find something but was unsuccessful. Thanks for bringing it to our notice. :-)

  1. So it can move only downloaded “non-movable” apps from market and not the systeam apps?, for example if it could move contacts.apk (system app) to sd card it would probably broke something?

    1. Hi Maazin. I haven’t tried that out but surely you can move whatsapp. However I would not recommend you doing that since you’ll access these apps very frequent. Moving it to SD card will lag the loading time to a bit. You can try it out and see the difference.

  2. i have done this before and it certainly can move some apps. but the “biggest file size apps” like fb and youtube can’t be moved.

  3. Why I can’t install the SDK manager.. when i open the “sdk manager.exe” it was just pop out black window and disappear quickly.. please help me.

  4. Hi ignitis,

    I know this method. But I am still trying to figure out y these apps like yahoomail,FB, Youtube, GoogleMaps cant be moved outta phone memory!!?? If you have any solution to this plz share.

    If these apps can be moveable to SD Card then most of the people’s problem solves!

  5. Hello Bro,
    Hope u don’t mind me calling you that. Well whatever you have written is awesome!!!!!!
    I’m having a lot of trouble with my android phone Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830i. What ever am doing it’s getting stored in phone memory, especially apps like yahoo mail, watsapp and all post which it always shows a pop-up like, “LOW STORAGE SPACE”. I don’t get it from where will I get extra space to store items, and the worst part is i am not getting messages also :( :(
    Will you please help me out Bro. It’s a request.

    1. Hi Soumojit,
      Thanks for the comment. You should follow the steps I’ve mentioned and that should just do right.
      As far as Yahoomail is concerned, I had checked it previously and it cannot be moved to SD card even after the trick. Whatsapp is good to be on phone memory since you use it daily and you wont like the delay in starting if you move it to SD card.
      Try the steps, if you do not succeed, buzz me on m email. :D

  6. This sounds promising. I am going to be trying this on my Samsung Ace 1, hopefully it will work. Thank you. Do you know how can install an app straight on to SD than phone?

    1. Hi Sivi Srithar. No, there is no way you can directly install app to SD card. If the dev have made a provision to install on the memory card, only than you will be able. By default all apps gets installed on the phone memory (that’s what i have observed) :D

  7. when i try it i get an error saying that “more than one device and emulator”. What’s the reason for this.

  8. This may be quite rudimentary, but I can’t find Settings > Applications > Development on my VS840 4G. If I go to settings, the only application option I have is “Apps.” Inside “Apps” there is no development menu. If you could help me figure out what I’m doing wrong it would be greatly appreciated. Trying to move apps to an SD card and having trouble. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    1. Hey Eddie. The steps written was when there was Gingerbread in the market. For the recent updates such as ICS or JB, here’s the trick.
      Go to Settings>About Phone and tap Build number for some number or times. This should activate the Developers Option. I tried on m Xperia Z with JellyBean and it worked. Try it out and buzz m

  9. Bro can i move the Facebook App which comes with the phone i mean an Facebook Inbuilt app

  10. Hey,
    Why do we need to do all these herculean tasks. Instead you can download a simple Google App :move to SD Card installed in your mobile and get this transfer happen within 60 seconds.

    It is utter foolishness to follow the process explained here when you can do the task within two minutes!!!

    1. Hey Fitness geek.
      Sure, definitely you can download the google app – move to SD card and transfer your applications on the SD card. But if you read properly, these steps are for those apps which cannot be transferred by the “move to SD card” app. :)
      There are some developer specific apps with permission only to be installed on the phone memory.
      You can try with the Move to SD app and tell me if you can transfer every app to the SD card.

  11. hi, tried to move whatsapp and it worked. but btw i found that the free space on the phone not increase greatly, is the app data moved to sd card also? i suspecting the data didnt transferred… thank you for answer.

    1. Hey Malan. Super that it worked. You are correct, the app data will be stored on the internal memory for the most of the time.
      As far as whatsapp is concerned, I would suggest to keep the most frequently used apps on internal memory only as it would delay in some microseconds to read from external memory.

  12. Excited to see this and choose to follow you. I did not have success on seeing my device on the command adb devices. I see my phone connected to my Windows 7 computer. Tried updating driver but said newest version already installed. My DROID is 4.0.4 any thoughts? LG VS840 4G

  13. I got to the ”fun part” but I can’t do it! I’ve typed in the commands a million times and C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools but It won’t work!

    1. P.S In the command it tells me adb is not recognized and my phone (HTC desire 816) is connected and updated…HELP!

      1. Hey Christina. The time when I scribbled this was the time of the Gingerbread and old smartphone models. It is possible that the drivers are updated and the phone kernel is restructured. You can try updating the phone drivers for computer either from HTC website or Android developer website. Try downloading the latest drivers while I check for it :)

    1. Hey, Hammad. Ideally it should work. It’s just a feature of Android OS and I think it works irrespective of the version. Try it out and buzz m if you succeed. Cheers.

  14. hey bro i dont have the drivers of my android phone please help me i am using micromax unite 2a106

  15. Hi there, i know this is an older post so i am hoping i still get a response. i’ve gotten into the command prompt and to the point where i’m supposed to enter the adb commands and i keep getting an error telling me it is not a recognized command, program, or batch file. i have sdk open and my phone in debugging mode. please help :(

    1. Hey. Sorry for the delay in response. You might have figured out a solution by now. You have to browse through the folder – C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools and than run the commands. You have to be inside the folder for the command prompt to recognize the adb commands.

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