How to Move Apps to SD Card on Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus

Moto G5 Plus

The Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus like previous Moto devices run on a near-stock build of Android. Both handsets are currently running on Android 7.0 Nougat and come with all the bells and whistles that Google introduced with the OS. This also means that the Moto G5 and G5 Plus come with Adoptable storage feature that makes it unnecessarily complex to move apps to SD card.

While Adoptable storage is a nice feature to have since it expands the internal storage of a device, the process of moving apps to SD card or data to and fro from your PC becomes extremely complex. If this is your first time using a Moto device or an Android device running Marshmallow or higher, and you are wondering what Adoptable storage is and how to move apps to SD card on the Moto G5 or G5 Plus, read below.

What is Adoptable Storage?

Introduced with Marshmallow, Adoptable storage allows Android to ‘adopt’ external storage media to act like an internal storage one. While there is an option of not ‘adopting’ the SD card, it will limit the usefulness of the external storage for simple file management purposes.

If you end up ‘adopting’ the external storage, Android will format and encrypt the card and then offer the option to migrate your app data and other content that is usually present in /sdcard to the new media. This way, you will automatically end up freeing a precious amount of space on the internal storage of your device.

You can also manually move apps to the ‘adopted’ SD card through Settings -> Apps. Developers, however, will have to ensure that their app is updated to support adoptable storage media. Compatible apps when installed will automatically be installed on the storage disk that has the most amount of free space. This means that if your internal storage has more free space than the adopted SD card, a compatible app will be installed on the internal storage disk.

While you can remove an adopted SD card from the device, it is strongly recommended that you don’t do so since it can lead to system instability.

An important point to note with adoptable storage is that you will not be able to move files to and fro from your PC to the external storage/microSD card once it is formatted and encrypted as the card will simply not be recognised by your PC. The card will also not be recognised by other devices and PCs due to the filesystem it would be formatted in.

How To Move Apps to SD Card on Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus

Tip: If you have not already, make sure to buy a microSD card with a Class 10 or higher rating. Otherwise, there is a possibility that the system performance will be affected.

Step 1: Insert a microSD into your Moto G5 or Moto G5 Plus, and then head over to Settings -> Storage & USB. You should see the card you just inserted under ‘Portable storage.’ If the inserted SD card is in an incompatible format, you will automatically be prompted to format it first.

Moto G5 Plus SD Card

Step 2: Tap on its name to open the built-in file manager. Tap the 3-dot overflow menu button followed by Storage Settings. From the menu that opens, select Format as internal option followed by Erase and format.

Step 3: Depending on the size of the SD card inserted, the formatting procedure can take as much as up to 5 mins. Once done, you might get an error message saying the SD card inserted is too slow and can possibly lead to the performance of the phone and the installed apps being affected.

Step 4: You will also get an option to migrate your existing data from the internal storage to the external storage. Doing this will move photos, videos, and app data of certain apps to the external storage.

Once the process is complete, head over to Settings -> Storage & USB and you will notice that the total device storage has now increased to include the size of the SD card as well. It will be slightly lower than the total i.e. if you insert a 64GB card, it will not show up as 32+64 = 96GB, but around 90GB after taking into consideration the space that is lost to formatting and taken by the Android OS itself.

Step 5: To manually move apps and games to SD card, head over to Settings -> Apps. Now, select the app that you want to move to SD card. Tap on Storage and then select the Change option under Storage used. Finally, select the SD card and confirm your selection by tapping Move. Depending on the size of the app or game and the speed of the SD card, the whole process can take a minute or two.

The option to move apps and games to external storage will only show up for apps that have been updated to work with Marshmallow’s Adoptable storage feature.


For all future apps that you install on your Moto G5 or G5 Plus, the OS will automatically determine where to install apps depending on the storage which has the most amount of storage space. All photos and videos you click will automatically be saved to the external storage provided it has the adequate amount of storage space. As mentioned above, the external storage will not be recognised by your PC so to transfer files, you will have to make use of apps like AirDroid.

If you are facing any other issue in moving apps to SD card on your Moto G5 or G5 Plus, drop a comment and we will help you out.

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Related Topics: How To, Moto G5

  • Sourabh Chile

    Hi,
    Thanks for the above mentioned steps…i have followed the steps and it works…but the problem i found is that when i open the file manager app…it shows only internal memory and not external sd card…why so…?

    • Thomas Reamer

      It is adaptive storage – therefore it “becomes” part of your internal. This is a great feature and a huge selling point of this phone.

      • triggerpoint1

        Hi Thomas, Can you usb cable this phone to your PC and move converted movies to it that will function? If not in the adaptive storage mode would the Moto G5 still be able to play movies stored on the SD card? Losing linkage with the PC would be a huge negative. Thank you.

        • triggerpoint1

          The adaptive storage thing was throwing me. Installing the SD card as external does work as it always has on the other android phones I have used. I actually tried out the Verizon Samsung S8 for about ten days and returned it to BestBuy because I disliked the Bixby button and the back fingerprint sensor. The right sided buttons on the Moto G5 are way more ergonomic for me. Also saving so much money over the Samsung Flagship phone did not hurt either.

  • Vaibhav VJ

    I have lost all my data due to your this processs .. I m hving nothing now in sd card. All data was so much important from whr does i ll get all that it took years to collect that data and in a second all vanished. You should have told us to insert a new sd card or to backup our sd card data … Is thr anyway to rcvr all that data ? Pls tl me @fb jainsunny912@gmail.com

    • Ray Smith

      I’m guessing you don’t read instructions or your phone screen properly.

      The screen and pictures in the article clearly show the warning that Formatting completely ERASES the SD card and to back up important data before doing so.

      So If you lost everything…*User error*

    • Yasir Tufail

      when you format there is a clear warning that all data will be lost.

  • kaustubh

    hi when I head over to Settings -> App and select the app that i want to move to SD card and Tap on Storage but the Change option tab under Storage used not seen only clear cache appear in tis case what to do ?

  • Shivani

    Hello sir,
    I did what you said. You made it quite simple for me as I was struggling to get it done. But I ignored your class 10 sd card advice and now I want my storage back to internal storage only.
    Please help me.

  • triggerpoint1

    So I am testing this phone and have not decided whether to keep it or not. I like some of the features I have found and dislike a few. I am hoping I am just missing something and the negative features will be solved. First the issue about the SD card not running media converted and uploaded from my pc. Is this true? Huge negative if it is true as I have put tons of dance lessons and lectures on my card on other phones. Hope I have missed something and that this phone is link able to a PC that has conversion software. Another issue I hope to solve is the lack of WiFi Calling. A moto forum person, Jess, says the phone is WiFi calling capable but the option is not to be found on my phone. My carrier VZN definitely supports WiFi calling as I have been happily using it on my last phone which was the LG G4. Is this also true? Clearing up these two issue would go a long way to convincing me to keep this phone. Anyone here know about these issues?

    • triggerpoint1

      I simultaneously tested the Samsung S8 and ultimately decided I greatly preferred the Moto G5 because the ergonomics of the phone are far superior to the S8. Moto has fingerprint sensor on front instead of the back. Much easier to get to. Also the right sided buttons on the Moto are easier to manipulate then the left sided buttons of the S8. And the Bixby button the S8 was just a pain as anything I could conceivably want Bixby to do Google Assistant will do better. So I disliked the Bixby button and Bixby the program. Moto is not without limitations, ie. lack of IR blaster and WiFi calling but it surpasses the S8 for ease of use.

  • Sayan Chowdhury

    i have followed the steps it worked as mentioned but at last cant see the Change option. moreover once i need to transfer any data through PC its showing only the phone space , not showing the sd card space. kindly suggest.

    • As mentioned in the article, once you format the SD card as Internal storage, it will not show up on your PC.

      • Sayan Chowdhury

        then please suggest if i need to move any data from the PC hows that possible. as cant check any space for transfer.

  • Manindra Ray

    hi I followed the steps Settings -> App and select the app that i want to move to SD card and Tap on Storage but Change option is not there only clear cache appear what to do ?