Can I play music from SD card on Android?

What is an SD Card?

An SD card, or Secure Digital card, is a non-volatile flash memory card developed for use in portable devices to store data such as photos, videos, music, and documents. The SD Association developed the proprietary SD card format to serve as an inexpensive removable memory card for multiple devices.

The main characteristics of SD cards include:

  • Compact size – smaller than a postage stamp
  • Durable design
  • High portability
  • High compatibility – works across many devices like phones, cameras, drones, dash cams, gaming consoles, etc.

There are several types of SD cards that offer different capacities to meet various storage needs, including standard SD, miniSD, microSD, and SDXC (extended capacity). SD cards have become nearly universal as storage for digital cameras, camcorders and other electronic devices. They are also very popular in Android phones and other mobile devices, since they allow expanding the device’s built-in storage for more music, photos and files.

Benefits of Using SD Card for Music

Using an SD card for storing and playing music on Android devices has several key benefits:

Increased Storage Capacity: SD cards offer vastly more storage space compared to the built-in storage on most Android devices. For example, a typical Android phone may have 32-128GB of internal storage, while micro SD cards provide up to 1TB of additional space. This allows you to store thousands more songs, albums, and audio files (see source).

Portability: SD cards can easily be removed and connected to other devices. So the music you store on an SD card in your Android phone can also be played on a tablet, computer, car stereo, DAP (digital audio player), or another phone. This makes your music library extremely portable across all your devices (see source).

Compatibility: SD cards use universally compatible storage technology. So the music stored on your SD card can be accessed on nearly any Android device, regardless of brand, model, or age (see source). This provides reliable access to your music.

How to Move Music to SD Card

There are a few ways to move your music files from your Android device’s internal storage to an SD card:

Via File Manager

Most Android devices come pre-installed with a file manager app such as My Files or File Manager. You can use these apps to drag and drop music from your internal storage to an SD card. For example, in the Files app by Google [1]:

  1. Tap on “Browse” at the bottom of the screen
  2. Tap on “Storage devices” and tap on the SD card
  3. Select and navigate your internal storage to find your music files
  4. Select the files and tap the three dot menu icon
  5. Tap on “Copy to” and select your SD card

Drag from Computer

You can also simply drag and drop music files from your computer to the SD card using a USB cable

Third Party Apps

There are third party apps like [2]SD Card Manager that help automate moving files from internal storage to SD card.

Enabling Media Scanner

The media scanner is an Android service that scans external storage media like an SD card and indexes audio, video and image files so they show up in your music and gallery apps. When you copy new music files to your SD card, you need to run the media scanner to index those files so they are available in your music apps.

Many Android devices have a built-in “Rescan SD card” option to manually trigger the media scanner. This is usually found in the Storage settings. Simply go to Settings > Storage and tap the SD card name. Then look for “Rescan SD card” or something similar and tap it. This will initiate media scanning to index any new files.

You can also use third party apps like AZ Media Rescan to easily rescan your SD card storage. Using options like this is sometimes necessary if the built-in tool isn’t working properly.

After rescanning, your music player apps should now have access to any new music files copied over. If files still don’t show up, trying rebooting your device as that often fixes media scanner issues.

Setting Default Storage Location

To play music directly from your SD card, you will need to change the default storage location in your Android device’s settings from the internal phone storage to the SD card. Here are the steps to change the default storage location to SD card:

  1. Go to your device’s Settings app.
  2. Tap on “Storage”.
  3. Select “Default storage location”.
  4. You will see options pop up for the different storage locations on your device. Tap on “SD Card”.
  5. Confirm that you want to transfer data from Internal Storage to SD card.

By changing the default storage to the SD card, any new apps, photos, videos, and music will automatically save to the SD card rather than filling up your phone’s internal storage. This makes it easier to directly play music files on your Android device from the external SD card.

Just keep in mind that changing the default storage location does not automatically move your existing data, like music files, from Internal Storage to the SD card. You may need to manually move music files stored on your phone over to the SD card to have them all in one place and avoid any issues playing them.

Using a Music Player App

There are many great music player apps available for Android that support playing songs stored on an SD card. Some popular options include:

PlayerPro Music Player

The PlayerPro Music Player app has been around for many years and has a robust set of features. It allows you to easily browse songs stored on an SD card and add them to playlists.

Audify Music Player

The Audify Music Player app is optimized to handle large music libraries stored on SD cards. You can browse by folders and it has powerful search to quickly find songs.

SD Music Player

As the name suggests, the SD Music Player app makes it easy to play audio files stored on your devices SD card. You can directly browse files instead of having to create playlists first.

Most quality music player apps support playing audio content stored on SD cards. It’s easy to browse based on folder structure and create playlists from the external storage.

Troubleshooting Tips

If music is not playing properly from the SD card on your Android device, there could be a few issues causing the problem. Some things to try include:

Checking for corruption: An SD card can become corrupted and unable to play music files properly. You can use an app like SD Scanner to check your SD card for filesystem errors or corrupted data.

Reinserting SD card: Sometimes simply removing the SD card and reinserting it into the device can fix playback issues. Be sure to turn off your phone before removing the SD card.

Changing permissions: It’s possible that file permissions on the SD card are not properly configured. You can go into your file manager and make sure the music files are set to be publicly readable and executable. An app like SD Fix Permissions can automatically set permissions correctly.

Try these basic steps first before digging into more complex troubleshooting. Reformatting or replacing your SD card may be necessary if these don’t resolve your playback issues.

Optimizing SD Card Performance

There are a few things you can do to optimize the performance of your SD card on Android:

Choose an SD card with a high speed class rating – SD cards have speed class ratings that indicate their minimum guaranteed speeds. Class 2 cards have a minimum write speed of 2MB/s, while Class 10 cards have a minimum of 10MB/s. For the best performance, choose a UHS (Ultra High Speed) Class 1 card or above.

Reformat the SD card – Reformatting the SD card can help resolve performance issues and fragmentation. In your device’s Settings, choose the Storage option, then select your SD card, tap the three-dot menu and choose Format. This will erase all data, so be sure to backup first.

Avoid overfilling the SD card – SD cards work slower when they are almost full. Try to keep at least 25% of the space free. Move files you don’t access often to cloud storage or your device’s internal storage.

You can check your SD card’s read/write speeds using apps like SD Card Test or SD Benchmark. Follow the speed class rating guidelines and avoid overfilling for optimal performance.

SD Card vs Streaming

When deciding where to store your music on Android, one of the main considerations is SD card versus streaming from an online service like Spotify or Apple Music. There are pros and cons to each approach.

The main advantage of using an SD card is that you own the music files and can listen offline whenever you want, without needing an internet connection. SD cards also provide virtually unlimited storage for a low cost. For example, a 256GB micro SD card can hold roughly 40,000 songs and costs around $30 ( With an SD card, you have full control over your music library.

Streaming services provide access to a vast catalog of over 40 million songs ( This allows you to discover new music easily. However, streaming requires a monthly subscription, you don’t own the music, and you need an internet connection to listen. Audio quality may also be reduced depending on your plan.

Ultimately, using an SD card is ideal if you want full ownership of your music library and the ability to listen offline. Streaming services are better for music discovery and access to a huge catalog. Combining both methods lets you get the benefits of each.


Here are the key points to keep in mind when playing music from an SD card on an Android device:

1. Moving Music Files to SD Card – Use your computer or Android’s built-in file manager to copy music files from internal storage to the SD card. Organize files into folders for easier access.

2. Enabling Media Scanner – The media scanner needs to be enabled to index new files on the SD card so they show up in music apps. Go to Settings > Storage and tap the SD card > Three dots menu > Media scan.

3. Changing Default Storage – If you want new music downloads to save directly to the SD card, go to Settings > Storage and select the SD card as the default location.

4. Using a Music Player App – Use an Android music app like Google Play Music, Spotify, or third-party apps. Grant storage permissions so the app can access music on the SD card.

5. Checking Compatibility – Make sure your SD card and Android OS version are compatible. Troubleshoot issues like corrupted files, read-only access, or app crashes.

With the right setup, you can store a large music library on your Android’s SD card and listen seamlessly!

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