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How to save photos to SD card from your Android phone

Update: Updated with Marshmallow and Samsung devices

Did you know that you can save the photos you take with your Android phone directly to the SD card? If you're rocking an old school Galaxy S3, a fancy LG G5 or a sleek new Galaxy S7, you can save storage space on the phone itself by pushing your snaps straight to the SD card. Some versions of Android don't officially let you do this, but it's still possible. Read on to find out how. 

guardar fotos sd galaxy s3
Saving photos direct to the SD card lets you take plenty more and pop them out whenever you like. © ANDROIDPIT

The process is really easy, and it can be applied to any Samsung phone with an SD card (so that's the Galaxy S2, S3 Mini, S4, S5, etc, but not the S6), as well as other SD card fans such as the LG, HTC or Xperia. The particular steps might be a little different, but just dig around and you'll find your way.

Save photos to SD card on Marshmallow

The first thing you need to store images directly in the external memory is an SD card. Insert it into your phone, open the camera application and a message will appear asking if you want to change the storage location to the SD card. The same popup occurs on most devices when opening the camera app after inserting an SD card. Agree to your phone's request and all future pictures will be stored in the external memory card. Simple.

If by some chance this message doesn’t appear, or you have an SD card in your phone already, you need to configure it manually. To do this, you go to Settings in the camera app and scroll down to Storage. That's where you are able to choose between Device and Memory Card.

Be aware, that on Marshmallow, you now also have the option to format an SD card as internal storage, meaning your photos will automatically be stored on it without doing any of the above. But if you do this, the card will only work on the phone you formatted it on. That means you have to connect your phone to a computer via USB if you want to manually transfer files. The card itself will not be recognized by any other devices. Read more about this here:

androidpit camera sd card 1
Open up Settings when in the camera app and select Storage. © AndroidPIT

What happens with Android 4.4 KitKat?

Android 4.4 KitKat doesn't like SD cards so much and images are saved in the internal memory by default with no easy way to change the save location. One simple solution is to download the MX Camera application in which you'll find options to select the storage destination for pictures. The app is able to override KitKat's preferences.

Simply open the application and go to Settings, then Camera and finally Custom save location.

androidpit camera sd card 2
Choose Camera and then Custom save location. © AndroidPIT
Camera MX - Photo, Video, GIF Install on Google Play

What happens in Android 5.0 Lollipop?

Android 5.0 Lollipop changed things again, making it easier to set the save location for photos (as well as safer). Apps once again have read and write access to directories on removable storage. All you need to do is make sure your phone has a camera app with an API that makes use of the new permissions. If your stock camera won't let you save to the SD card, you can download a different camera app. Check the settings in the app and look for a storage option.

What happens on Samsung devices?

Things are made pretty simple here. Just insert an SD card and open the camera app. All being well, you will presented with a window offering you the option to use the SD card as your storage option of choice.

androidpit samsung galaxy s5 micro sd 2
You should see this dialog the first time you open the camera app after inserting an SD card./ © ANDROIDPIT

If you don't happen to see this window, then you can open the Settings menu in the camera app (the gear icon) and scroll down to Storage location, press it and selected Memory card. Job done.

androidpit samsung galaxy s5 micro sd 1
Alternatively, find the option in the camera app's settings. / © ANDROIDPIT

Do you save your photos to the SD card? What do you feel are the benefits and dangers? Let us know in the comments.



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  • I have the Moto X Pure and I cannot save to the SD card. It looks like 7.0 is a couple months down the road still. O don't want to format it as internal storage. I want my apps to stay on the phone and just have photos, music, and videos on the SD card. They've made something so simple impossible. I should have stayed on Windows Mobile.

  • There are few handy methods to move the apps to SD card.
    1. You can move manually with the help of phone application manager.

    Please note that if you cannot do it through phone application manager then apply these tips
    - You can Root your Phone.
    – Format SD card to NTSF.
    – Specify or set your SD card as the default storage location

    2. With the help of some free or paid apps.

  • I use es file explorer.

  • Hey this best

  • Mark G. May 2, 2016 Link to comment

    I never had any problems saving to the SD card when using my old faithful S3 running kitkat 4.3.
    I now have the excellent Samsung Galaxy S5 running Android 5.02, I have a 64GB SD card for my music and videos and documents/files. I only have 1 6GB internal memory so only have room for apps and some app data, everything else is on sd card.
    Though I have a full back up on various cloud storage and USB/CD.

    One top tip - DO NOT BUY cheap memory cards, do not buy sd card on price alone, the cheaper the price the higher chance it's a dud or fake. Only buy from reputable retailers. Lastly buy the best and fastest available (class 10 SDXC if possible).

    Peace ✌

  • Alex P. May 1, 2016 Link to comment

    seems helpful!!Thanks :) kris

  • Robert,
    Camera MX (which I got a couple of days ago) has this under settings. You have to accept a f warning related to photo's being erased if you uninstall. The default location is buried deep in the directory structure but it's least for me.

  • Since kit kat I can save to sd card but when I turn phone off & on again everything is eraced??? Didn't try the camera app you recommended but I recon I'll have the same problem.
    Pls help.

  • Yes, Google camera does not allow SD card saving at all, there is not even an option for it. I believe google cam its superior to most phone OE cams except on this features and it also lacks the slow motion feature now standard in all new smartphones cam app. Wish google would fix this big issue.

  • Jack Sep 10, 2015 Link to comment

    Hi Kris,

    weird thing with my Android 5.1: Can change the default save folder to SD card in the built-in camera app but with Google's Camera app no way, no option, nothing. And i'm really enjoying using it.
    Also I'm not being able to do almost nothing with my SD card. Not even moving apps, so I'm starting to get a little low on internal storage..

    • I'm having the same problem and am just about out of device storage, please help,I have a 128 GB SD card but can't put anything on it

      • This is not much help as I cannot get the camera app to save to SD card. I have Moto x pure edition and I have a file manager app that use to I periodically move the files to the SD card. Sorry, I forgot to add that my phone is running on Android 6.0

  • 2-3 lines procedure turned into an article. Sometimes article's of this app really makes me laugh.

    • If you think your so smart then in 2_3 lines how do you get Google photos and music on the SD card when it does not give you the option on Samsung tab S2. And Samsung note 4.

      • Sharon you could try the app Camera MX.
        In it's settings you can select your SD card for storage.

      • I have camera MX and it won't let you save to sd card. maybe older versions of the app might have but the current on does not. my stock camera will let me set the save position to sd card but like someone above said it erases it or the pic is just black.

  • Lee Mar 14, 2015 Link to comment

    Well if people don't know they do now lol there's no point owning a smartphone if your not smart enough to use it 😊

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