How to move photos on your phone to a microSD card

By | 25th April 2018

MicroSD cards can free up precious storage space on our phones, but only if you set it up to.

We wish all phones came with unlimited storage out of the box, but at least many Android phones have the option to expand that storage with microSD cards. Not every phone supports a microSD card — looking at you, Google Pixel 2 — but for those that do, the microSD card can give you more space for your app data, for your music and movies, and of course for your photos! That said, you can only reap these benefits if you take the time to set up your device to take advantage of it.

How to pick a microSD card for photography

MicroSD cards don't usually come with your phone unless it's part of an accessory bundle, but these cards are easy to find at most electronic and department stores. You can almost always find good cards on sale, so keep an eye on Thrifter if you don't need a microSD card right this second.

If you want the best and you want it now, we suggest picking up a Samsung EVO U3 microSD card. It's available in four storage capacities, from 32GB up to 256GB, and with a U3 speed rating it should be able to handle your photo and video-taking tasks.

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Once you buy your microSD card and get it inserted into your phone, it's not going to magically move all your photos and videos to it. We have two important tasks we need to accomplish for that.

How to change directories in the camera app

Your camera app picks a spot to save photos based on the available storage. In most cases, the default is typically the phone itself. Changing that will make your life a lot easier, especially after you have a microSD card installed.

This will ensure that any new photos you take are automatically stored to the microSD card rather than internal storage. Note: these steps are taken from the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and Samsung Camera app, but the steps should be more or less the same on most devices.

  1. Open your **Camera app*.
  2. Tap Settings (the gear icon).

  3. Scroll down and tap Storage location.
  4. Tap SD card.

Now the camera app will send newly taken photos to the microSD card, but what about all the photos you've already taken that are taking up storage space on your internal storage? We need to move those over to the microSD card.

How to move photos you've already taken to a microSD card

To move files from internal storage to the microSD card, we'll need a file manager app. Some phones come with file manager apps already installed, like Samsung's My Files app, but if yours doesn't, there are plenty of third-party apps that will do this as well, like Solid Explorer that you can use for this. We've used the Samsung My Files for these steps on a Samsung Galaxy S9+, but the steps should be the same on most devices.

  1. Open your file manager app.
  2. Open Internal Storage.
  3. Open DCIM (short for Digital Camera Images).

  4. Long-press Camera.
  5. Tap the three-dot menu icon and then tap Move.
  6. Tap SD card.

  7. Tap DCIM. If a DCIM folder isn't on your SD card, tap Create folder and make a DCIM folder.
  8. Tap Done to initiate the transfer.

Time for more photos

Once your photos are set up, you can snap away, content in the knowledge that you don't be filling your internal storage to the brim and bogging down your phone. It is also worth mentioning, however, that while it's easy to assign Camera photos to go to the microSD card, on many phones you cannot reassign Screenshots to capture to SD the same way, so be sure to come back every now and then and copy your screenshots over to SD to keep them from filling up your phone.

You can also back up everything with Google Photos, check out how!