A popular solution to low storage devices, saving photos to the SD card is still an option on many Android phones. Even though flagship devices seem to be abandoning them, microSD slots are still widely found in mid-range and entry-level phones. Learn how to save space on the internal memory by storing pictures and videos on the memory card.
Together with the (apparent) retiring of SD support on high-end smartphones, some Android changes have limited how apps - including camera apps - can access the internal or external storage. Even so, it is still possible to set the microSD card as the default location to save photos.
- Native camera app
- Third-party apps
- Advantages and disadvantages of saving photos to the SD card
Since Google doesn’t have SD slots on its Pixel devices, phone manufacturers need to offer their own solutions to store pictures and videos on the external memory. Not all of them offer the option to save photos to the microSD card, but you can check it out by yourself.
First, you will need to insert the microSD card on the phone, which on compatible models can be usually installed in the same SIM card tray. The smartphone should automatically detect and mount the memory card, making it available to use.
The native Samsung camera app should automatically detect and offer to save photos and videos on the SD card. Just tap Change to make the microSD card the default storage location.
If the pop-up was not displayed — or you accidentally closed it — just follow the steps:
- Tap on Settings (the cog icon).
- Select Storage location.
- Tap on SD Card.
On Xiaomi devices with SD card support running MIUI, the steps are quite similar:
- Tap on the ≡ (menu) icon.
- Select Settings (the cog icon).
- Activate the Save to SD card option.
Motorola smartphones with microSD slots should also automatically offer to store photos and videos on the SD card. To manually change the option:
- Tap on Settings (the cog icon).
- Expand the Save settings option.
- Tap on Storage.
- Select the SD card option.
If your phone’s native camera application does not offer the option to save pictures and videos to the SD card, you can try using a third-party camera app. If you are using the Open Camera suggested in our Best Camera apps list, just follow these steps:
- Tap on the cog icon (Settings).
- Select More camera controls…
- Activate Storage Access Framework.
- Tap on the ≡ icon.
- Select the SD card ("New volume" in the screenshot below).
- Open (or create) the DCIM folder.
- Tap on Use this folder button at the bottom of the screen.
- Select the Allow option.
The option to save photos and videos on the SD card is great if you have a phone with a small (or full) storage capacity. It also offers an additional option to transfer pictures and recordings to another device, such as a PC.
On the other hand, SD card quality varies wildly, affecting the speed with which files are recorded. Because of that, some camera apps do not allow users to save some types of files to external storage, for example, burst shots and high-definition video.
Besides that, if your phone is equipped with high-speed UFS storage, you may notice that the camera app takes a little extra time to be ready after taking a picture, as it can take longer to record the file to the microSD card.
Does your phone include an SD card slot? Do you use it to save photos? Do prefer to have local or cloud backups? Let us know in the comments.
This article was rewritten in February 2022 with updated steps for native and third-party apps. Previous comments were kept, and may refer to outdated versions of this page.