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How to see the SD card on Android

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Have you inserted a microSD into your Android smartphone and can’t use it? The phone has recognized the SD but you do not know how to see the files in it or how to check the amount of space still available for data storage? Don’t worry, these are trivial operations that can be performed without having a high level of computer knowledge. If you don’t believe it, give me five minutes of your time.

In today’s tutorial I will explain how to see the SD card on Android illustrating, step by step, the actions to take to have the SD card recognized by your smartphone or tablet and to use the card in the best possible way. Also, I will introduce you to some useful applications to view files on SD card and manage available space on it.

Once the reading is complete, you should be able to perform the main actions required to see and use the microSD on your Android phone: formatting the SD card, viewing the files inside it and checking the available memory. In addition, you will be able to transfer photos, documents and apps to the SD – all of which are part of the normal use of a microSD installed on an Android device. Happy reading and have fun!

Format the Android SD card

The formatting of the SD card on Android is an operation that allows the user to use the microSD as a portable memory, or, if you have a smartphone with an Android version equal to or greater than Marshmallow (6.x), such as internal memory. If you choose to format the SD as portable memory, it will be possible to save photos and documents chosen by the user in it.

If, on the other hand, you decide to format the SD card as internal storage, the applications will by default save their data in it and you get the opportunity to install the apps on the SD card. Unfortunately, not all apps can be connected to the microSD, but by rooting the phone and downloading apps suitable for the purpose, the problem can be remedied.

Formatting the SD card, whether you choose the portable memory option or the internal memory option, will result in the loss of all previously saved files on it. Before proceeding, therefore, be sure to perform a backup .

If you intend to format the SD card installed on your phone as portable storage , open the Settings (the gear icon), tap the Storage and USB option and press the SD card item . At this point, presses on the three dots icon (top right) and, in the screen that opens, tap the Settings command . Now, select the Format item and, in the new screen, press the Delete and Format button . Once the formatting is complete, tap on the Finish item .

If, on the other hand, you want to format the SD as internal memory , in order to have the possibility to transfer the applications downloaded from the Play Store on it, open the Settings (the gear icon), select the Storage and USB item  from the screen which opens and presses on the SD card item .

Now, tap on the three dots icon and, on the next screen, select the Settings option . Then go to  Format as internal memory and confirm the start of formatting by pressing the Delete and Format button .

Once you have finished formatting the microSD as internal storage, you will not be able to use it in other devices, which will return you the damaged SD card warning.

Note : if you need to install the SD card on your Android phone for the first time and you have an operating system version equal to or higher than Marshmallow (6.x), a setup wizard will automatically start after switching on the device, during the which you will be asked if you want to format the SD card as portable memory or as internal memory. For further information, I invite you to read my guide on how to install the SD card.

Alternative procedure

SD Formatter

If your smartphone still can’t see the microSD, you can try formatting the card using a computer with a Windows or macOS operating system. To do this, I recommend using  SD Formatter : a free program for Windows and macOS developed by the SD Association, i.e. the association that represents the most important SD companies globally.

To use it, all you have to do is select the microSD drive from the Select card drop-down menu , press the Format button and wait a few seconds for the card to be formatted. To learn more about how the software works, read my tutorial on how to format microSD.

View the files on the SD card

Once you are done formatting the SD card, you can start saving photos, documents and apps on it. When a large number of files are stored, it may be useful to use a file manager , which allows you to view and manage the data on the SD card in an orderly manner.

File managers allow you to perform many operations, such as creating new folders, moving or deleting files, etc. Here are a couple that I highly recommend you try.

Total Commander

Total Commander is one of the most advanced file managers on the Play Store. The application allows you to copy, move and delete the files on the SD card to your liking. Additionally, it supports cloud storage services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Its interface is entirely in Italian and can be used without limits at no cost.

If you intend to try Total Commander, connected to the official application page on the Play Store and tap the Install button . Then start the app and, in the screen that opens, tap the Allow item , to allow it to access the files on the SD and on the device memory.

In the new screen displayed, presses the item corresponding to your SD card (eg sdcard1 ) to view all the files in it. If you want to view the photos previously taken with the camera and automatically saved in the external memory, select the item SD card (or its equivalent, e.g. sdcard1 ), then press the DCIM folder and, in the screen that opens, tap on the Camera folder .

Now, if you want to move one of the photos inside the Camera folder , tap on the photo thumbnail and press the sheet icon  (bottom left). In the new screen that opens, tap on the icon of the two arrows and, in the new menu displayed, select the position you want to assign to the file.

If, for example, you want to move it to the Camera subfolder of the phone’s internal storage, tap the Internal memory item , then select the DCIM folder and, in the screen that opens, tap the Camera folder . To complete the procedure, tap on the OK item , then select the Move command and wait for the file to load.

X-plore File Manager

X-plore File Manager is another great application that allows you to manage all the files in the internal memory and SD card. It supports .zip and .rar files, it also allows you to access cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. It too, like the Total Commander app, is completely free.

If you intend to try X-plore File Manager, connected to the official page of the app on the Play Store and tap the Install item to start the download. When the download is complete, presses the item Allow to allow the application to access all the files on the device.

In the new screen displayed, select the SD card item  (or the one corresponding to your SD card, eg sdcard1 ) to view all the files present in it. If you want to check the photos saved on the microSD, in the main screen of the app, press the SD card item , tap on the DCIM folder and then select the Camera folder .

If you intend to transfer a file from the internal memory to your phone’s SD card, tap the icon located to the right of the blue arrow (top right) and, in the screen that opens, select the SD card item . Repeat the same operation for the icon located next to the blue arrow symbol (top left) by selecting, this time, the Device memory item .

Now, tap on the Device memory item and select the folder from which you want to transfer the file. In the new screen that opens, put the check mark next to the desired file and press the Move command (on the right side). To confirm the transfer to the SD card, press the OK item in the screen that opens.

Note : The images taken with the camera are not always located in the DCIM folder, the one used by the camera’s default app. In fact, if you use a different camera app than the default one, the folder where you can find previously saved photos probably has the same name as the application you use.

Check the available memory on the SD card

Sometimes, it may happen that you run out of available memory on your SD card without noticing it. It happens when, for example, you want to install a new application but the system prevents it because the memory is full. For this reason, you may find it useful to check the memory on the microSD more frequently.

You can check the status of your SD memory directly from the system settings. To do this, open the  Android Settings (the gear icon) and tap on the Storage and USB item . In the new screen that appears, you will find information on the memory used and the available memory of the microSD installed on the phone.

To view the files inside the SD, tap on the SD card item (or the item corresponding to your SD card, e.g. sdcard1 ). If you want to delete a folder or file, you simply have to long press on the desired file and tap on the trash can icon that appears at the top right.

If, on the other hand, you want to entrust an application with the task of cleaning the SD, the SD Maid app can be for you. The application in question allows you to keep both the system and any microSD installed on the smartphone clean and tidy.

Among its functions are: the removal of the files of all the apps no longer present on the mobile phone, the elimination of the application cache, a better management of the downloaded apps thanks to the detection of the largest applications. There is also the paid version (at a cost of 2.99 euros), which, unlike the free version, allows you to delete the temporary files of third-party apps.

If you want to try SD Maid, connected to the official application page on the Play Store and tap the Install button . Once the download is complete, start the app and proceed with the required setup wizard before you can start using it. On the Configuration screen , tap in quick succession on the Next , Allow Access , Allow and Next items .

At this point, to allow the app to recognize the SD Card correctly, select the SD Card item  (or the item corresponding to your SD card, e.g. sdcard1 ) and, in the screen that opens, presses the SD Card items and Select (bottom right). If you have performed all the steps correctly, the SD Card item turns green. To complete the procedure, tap on the Done item .

Now, you are ready to use SD Maid. To get an overview of some of its functions. When you are in the main application screen, tap on the menu icon (top left) and select the item of your interest: Overview , to view the capacity and use of each memory; File Manager , for file management or Application Control , to monitor currently running apps).

The most important commands, however, are located on the main screen and are: Application remnants (to view the remaining files of already uninstalled apps), System Cleanup (here is a list of system cache files that can be removed) , Application cleaning (requires the paid version, it is the section that allows you to see the cache files of third-party apps) and Database (function through which large databases are optimized, so to speak those of apps such as Facebook , Dropbox and Spotify).

To start the desired function, tap on the arrow icon located next to each item, or start the scan of the entire system by pressing the Scan button located at the bottom, in order to view all the useless files that you can delete. If you are interested in learning more about how the app works, I invite you to read my tutorial on how to free up space on Android.

Using the SD card on Android

After seeing how to format the microSD, view the files in it and check the amount of space available, it’s time to understand how to use the SD card on Android . Almost always, when you install an SD on a phone it is because you want to have more memory than the internal one, so that you can take more photos, own more documents and download more applications. If you give me another couple of minutes of your free time, I can point you to useful insights where you can learn in detail the procedures on how to move photos, documents and apps to the SD card.

Move photos to SD card

Once the SD is installed on the phone, you have the option to move the photos previously stored on the internal memory to the external one. In addition to images, it is also possible to transfer short or long videos, depending on the size of the card storage. To learn more, you can check out my tutorial on how to move photos to SD card.

Move documents to SD card

In addition to images and videos, the SD card can hold a considerable number of documents. Usually, this type of file is less heavy than multimedia files. In any case, you may need to transfer even modest-sized documents that do not heavily affect the phone’s internal memory to the microSD. To know the actions to be performed step by step, I invite you to read my guide on how to move files to SD card.

Move apps to SD card

Finally, installing the SD card on an Android smartphone allows you to move the apps downloaded from the Play Store to the removable external memory. The ability to transfer heavier applications to microSD is a considerable advantage in terms of space, if you take into account the internal storage of the mobile, which can be limited for the needs of some users.

However, apps are not always transferable. The only way to transfer them all is to root your device (an operation that invalidates the warranty and can lead to the deletion of the data on it), partition the SD properly and use apps such as App2SD  to force the movement of applications. on the microSD. If you want to know more and / or you need to free up the internal memory almost entirely, I invite you to read my guide on how to move everything to the SD card.