How to Let Android Apps Use an SD Card on a Chromebook

As of Chrome OS version 78 the method used to enable SD card access on a Chromebook has changed. This guide will show you how to allow Android Apps to access and use your SD card on a Chromebook.

Since your Chromebook probably doesn’t have a particularly large hard drive, it can be very handy to store things like audio and video files on an SD Card instead of the internal drive. When Google rolled out version 78 of Chrome OS, they changed the way Android Apps access an SD card on a Chromebook. It’s a bit more buried now, but it’s still totally possible to let apps like Netflix store downloaded files on an SD card instead of the hard drive. Here’s how –

  1. Open the Settings on your Chromebook.
  2. chrome os settings button

  3. Select Device from the navigation panel on the left side of the window, and then Storage management in the Device section on the right side of the window.
  4. chrome os settings panel with device highlighted

  5. Select External storage preferences
  6. chrome os external storage preferences option

  7. Toggle the SD Card switch to ON
  8. the on off switch for sd card storage in chrome os

  9. Now select Apps from the navigation panel on the right, and then Google Play Store from the panel on the right.
  10. chrome os settings panel with googleplay store highlighted

  11. Choose Manage Android preferences
  12. chrome os settings panel with manage android preferences highlighted

  13. Select Apps & notifications
  14. the chrome os google play store options and settings

  15. Locate the App you want to allow to use your SD card. In this example we’re going to use Netflix. Note: you’ll need to perform the next 2 steps with each app that you want to be able to use your SD card.
  16. netflix in the apps and notifications panel

  17. Select Permissions
  18. the netflix android app permissions

  19. Toggle the Storage switch to ON
  20. the netflix android app storage permissions

  21. At this point Netflix has been granted ‘permission’ to use your SD card. Depending on the App you may not be done quite yet. With Netflix, you need to configure the App itself to start saving data on the SD card rather than the internal drive. To do that, open Netflix and click the More icon at the bottom of the window.
  22. the netflix android app more button

  23. Choose App Settings
  24. the netflix android app settings list

  25. Scroll down and select Download location
  26. the netflix android app download location in settings

  27. Now choose SD Card
  28. the netflix android app download location options

  29. Confirm that the Download location has changed to SD Card
  30. the netflix android app download location in settings with sd card as the location

  31. Going forward, when you download a video with Netflix to watch while you’re offline, it’ll be stored on your SD card instead of your internal hard drive.
  32. Remember – you’ll need to repeat steps 7-9 with each Android App that you wish to grant access to your SD card.
  33. You should be able to use your SD card to store files from Spotify as well, but there seems to be an ongoing issue which may cause you headaches.

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2 thoughts on “How to Let Android Apps Use an SD Card on a Chromebook”

  1. Thanks for the thorough instructions. I have an Asus Chromebook with a 256GB Samsung Ultra microSDXC card installed. I can save & copy files to the card using the built-in ‘Files’ utility no problem, so the card itself seems to work okay.

    None of the Android apps that I’ve tried will use the SD card as storage.
    Here’s what happens with Netflix, Amazon Music, and Google Maps (Android apps installed from Google Play):

    1) Netflix
    – downloads to Internal Storage work as expected
    – when I select the ‘Download Location’ option in the Netflix ‘App Settings’, the only valid storage option given is ‘Internal Storage’; a message states, in bold, ‘No External Storage’, then goes on to say ‘Install a storage device (such as an SD Card) to change your download location’
    – so despite all of the permissions being correct, Netflix doesn’t recognize the SD card

    2) Amazon Music
    – when the SD card is disabled and I go to ‘Settings / Storage’, the ‘Storage Location’ is greyed out (as you might expect because only the Internal Storage is available); the ‘SD Card Status’ has a red dot and states ‘Your SD card is offline’
    – when the SD card is enabled, ‘Settings / Storage / Storage Location’ gives options for ‘Internal Device (45.1 GB free)’, and ‘External SD card (0.0 GB free)’; the ‘SD Card Status’ still has a red dot, and says the card is offline; when I select the External SD card option, a pop-up states ‘Your SD card is read only. Please repair or change your SD card.’
    – so although the app recognizes that there is an External SD card present, it seems to think that it is unwriteable

    3) Google Maps
    – downloads to Internal Storage work fine
    – while setting the download location to the SD card in ‘Settings’, it indicates 244GB available; but when I try to download a map, a pop-up message states ‘Something has gone wrong; please try again in a few minutes.’

    I have tried formatting the card as FAT32 and exFAT. I have followed tutorials to use the CMD file on a PC to ensure any read-only attributes that may have existed on the card are removed.

    Any thoughts on what the problem could be? Thanks!

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