Moto E: Make the most of your phone's available storage

The Moto E 1st and 2nd gen phones have limited built-in storage, but thanks to a MicroSD memory card slot, that storage capacity can be expanded. But after adding a memory card you may still find the phone refusing to download additional apps, saying that there’s not enough storage, even while there’s plenty of free space on your MicroSD memory card.

The problem is that the Android version on these models doesn’t add memory card storage to internal memory capacity. Unless you take steps to force the use of the memory card, apps and data storage will use the phone’s limited internal memory. The following describes how to obtain and utilize a memory card, as well as a means to reduce unnecessary use of internal memory.

Expand Storage With A MicroSD Memory Card
    Choosing a Memory Card
    Installing the Memory Card
    Move Media Content to the SD Card
    Configure Apps to Store Their Data on the SD Card
    Move Apps to the SD Card
    Set the SD Card to be the Default App Storage Location
Remove Updates for Bundled Apps You’re Not Using

Expand Storage With A MicroSD Memory Card

SD card.png

The terms memory card, MicroSD card or SD card all refer to the “micro” sized version of SD card memory. Take care not to buy the full size SD card that is more commonly used in cameras.

If you haven’t gotten a MicroSD card yet, even an inexpensive 8 GB card will allow you to take many more pictures or longer videos or play music from the phone without a cellular data or a Wi-Fi connection. Moving those kinds of content to the SD card will allow more apps to be installed as well.

Choosing a Memory Card

You can buy MicroSD memory cards wherever computer or phone accessories are sold. When choosing a card, brand names are not always indicative of quality - good names have sold bad batches in the past. However, a name that's less likely to go out of business can be useful should you need to collect on a lifetime warranty. Look to buy the most capacity (up to the phone's rated maximum of 32GB) and fastest speed you can afford. The speed is printed on the card as a number in a circle - the number may be 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10, with 2 the slowest and 10 the fastest.

Installing the Memory Card

Moto E 1st gen users: See Republic’s guide for Moto E MicroSD memory cards for details and a video of how to install the SD card.

Moto E 2nd gen users: See this video for how to install the SD card in the Moto E 2nd gen:

Move Media Content to the SD Card

move items to sd card.png

When you power up a phone with a newly installed SD card, you’ll be asked if you wish to move media to the SD card - tap OK and skip to step 4 below. Then periodically or when internal memory is low, check to see if any further content can be moved by completing this sequence:

  1. Start settings-icon.png Settings
  2. Tap Storage
  3. Tap Move Media
  4. Check all of the boxes that can be checked and tap Move

Configure Apps to Store Their Data on the SD Card

Apps that use a lot of storage for their data should provide you the option to save that data to the SD card. Look under the settings of the app for a storage option. Here’s how to find the storage option for some commonly used apps that should use SD storage.

Here SD storage.png

  • Here Navigation - Tap the menu button, then tap Settings, then Storage memory, and select sdcard1.
  • Camera - swipe in from the left edge for the options and slide the option circle upward. Tap the circle’s SD card icon and then tap SD Card.
  • Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV - tap the menu button, then tap Settings, and then Storage and select the SD card.

Move Apps to the SD Card

  1. Start settings-icon.png Settings
  2. Tap Apps
  3. Swipe left to see the On SD Card list.
  4. Apps that have an unchecked box can be moved to SD - tap the app, then tap Move to SD card.

When you notice that internal memory is running low, repeat this process to insure that all eligible apps are stored on the SD card.

Set the SD Card to be the Default App Storage Location

Due to changes made by Google, the following does not work for phones with Android 5.x.

Android doesn’t automatically install apps to SD storage because some apps are not compatible with SD storage. That’s also why certain apps can’t be moved to the SD card. The problem areas for apps in SD storage are:

  • Apps that run automatically at boot won’t start.
  • Widgets from apps in SD storage may vanish or not work
  • Some launchers may not work correctly

Because of that, the phone doesn’t have an option box that automatically puts new apps in SD storage and lifts the restriction on moving apps to SD storage. There is a way, however, to change this setting. Once the setting has changed, it’s your responsibility to make sure you aren’t moving the wrong apps into SD storage.

Caution! This is tricky stuff. Pay close attention to the details.
You’ll only need to do these steps one time, unless you factory reset the phone.


  • A computer running Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10)
  • A micro-USB data cable that connects your phone to your computer.


  1. On your phone, enable Developer options and USB debugging:
    1. USB Debugging.pngStart settings-icon.png Settings
    2. Tap About phone
    3. Tap the Build number 7 times. You’ll be congratulated for becoming a developer.
    4. Tap the Back button
    5. Tap Developer options
    6. Tap USB debugging, and then tap OK to confirm.
  2. Connect the phone to your computer with a USB cable and unlock the screen. Your computer will need to install drivers the first time you connect the phone with USB debugging enabled. For Windows 7 or 8, the drivers will usually install automatically within a few minutes. To confirm the drivers are installed and manually install drivers if needed, see Install Motorola’s ADB drivers for Microsoft Windows.
  3. At the computer, click this to download the program.
  4. When the download finishes, run the set_external_install_location_2.1.exe program (hereafter called simply the program). Depending on your Internet web browser, that can be done as follows:
    Google Chrome
    Click the file name at the lower left corner of the browser window.
    Internet Explorer
    Click the Run button in the Run-Save-Cancel dialog.
    Mozilla Firefox
    Click Save File, then click the file name in the box that opens just below the download button.

If the downloaded file doesn’t appear as described above, view the recent downloads in your browser and click the program to run it.

  1. Because the program isn’t commercially produced, it may not be automatically trusted by the security systems on your computer. If asked to confirm, choose to Run the program. If you don’t see that, look for something else to click such as Actions. For the Windows SmartScreen dialog, you must click More Info, and then click Run anyway:
    Windows 8 Smartscreen 1.png
  2. You may also receive warnings about a generic threat or an unknown program from your antivirus. Do whatever your antivirus requires to allow the program to run.
    You would be justified for wondering if it’s really OK to ignore these security warnings - and in cases when you’re searching the web for free software, you should not ignore such warnings. However, this is not an elaborate hoax to put malware or adware on the computers of Moto E users.

You may upload the program to to see what other antivirus programs think.

  1. An End User License Agreement is displayed. It’s very short so please read it, and then click Accept if you agree, or Decline if you don’t.

  2. For those with the 32-bit version of Windows Vista, 7, or 8: You will be asked to approve running a program that can make changes to your computer. The program only makes changes to the phone. This access is needed to verify the phone’s connection to the computer.

  3. A brief introduction to the program will be shown. When you’re ready, make sure the phone’s screen isadb-approve-debug-phone.png turned on and unlocked, and click Continue.

  4. About mid-way through the process watch the phone because you’ll need to approve the computer’s attempt to use USB debugging. Tap OK when the phone shows a question similar to the one at the right.
    You’ll have less than 5 seconds to respond before the computer gives up. If you’re not quick enough, go ahead and approve it on the phone, and then click Retry from the computer.

  5. When the program completes it will look like the following.

  6. For those with Windows Vista or 7: After closing the program, the Program Compatibility Assistant window may appear. Click The program installed correctly. This happened because Windows thought the program was an installation routine. Nothing was permanently installed on your computer.

  7. Return to the Move Apps to the SD Card instructions because some apps may now be movable to the SD card. Remember not to move launchers and notice whether you might be using a widget for an app you wish to move.

Remove Updates for Bundled Apps You're Not Using

The Moto E is bundled with Google’s suite of apps and a few from Motorola, some of which you may never use. Automatic updating will have installed updates for those apps, reducing internal memory by more than 400 MB.

Updates for bundled apps can’t be moved to the SD card, not even after changing the default app storage location to the SD card.

Disable apps.png

If you don’t use the bundled apps, you can get some of that storage back by disabling those unused apps and removing their updates, as follows:

  1. Start settings-icon.png Settings
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Tap the name of an app you don’t expect to use. If it’s a built-in app, you’ll see a button labeled Uninstall updates.
  4. Tap the Disable button, and then tap OK to confirm the warning. That warning that other apps may misbehave doesn’t apply in most cases - and if it does, you can always re-enable the app later.
  5. The phone will then ask Do you want to replace this app with the factory version? Confirm with OK to remove the updates from internal memory.

After doing the above, you won’t be able to use disabled apps, and those apps will no longer update themselves. To re-enable apps, go to Settings and Apps as before, then swipe left until you see the Disabled list - from there you can tap an app and enable it.

Some of the bundled apps that you may consider disabling include Assist, Cloud Print, Drive, Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies and TV, Google Play Newsstand, Google+, Hangouts, HP Print Service Plugin, Motorola Alert, and Motorola Migrate. Rule of thumb, if you don’t know for sure, leave the app enabled.


Need to add a credit… thanks to @southpawkb for her invaluable help in testing the new Windows app and proofreading.


Another excellent contribution to the Community support at Republic Wireless, for other Blogs from these two check out:

@carlh see Tips & Tricks

@southpawkb see Panorama

Ben ~ a Community member - not an employee of Republic


Thanks so much for this awesome contribution!!


I look forward to using the Windows app when I’m not behind a corporate firewall. I have a variety of bloated apps that don’t need to run all the time. Alternately, any of these would be a nice addition:

  • Support proxy servers when downloading Android tools
  • Allow pointing to an existing installation of Android tools instead of downloading them
  • Publication of the underlying adb steps for advanced and/or non-Windows users

@isotope, advanced users can follow the steps at this blog: DEFY XT: Move as Many Apps As Possible to the SD card (original version for Windows computers) with a slight change for the newer phones -

  • Instead of setInstallLocation, use set-install-location
  • Instead of getInstallLocation, use get-install-location

Thanks! I’ll use those adb commands with some other Android 4.4 devices I have.

Also, I was able to use the Windows program, successfully, once I had my computer on a real internet connection – freed up over 200 MB by moving some serious hogs.


Appreciate the feedback - FYI, the Windows program may work with those other Android 4.4 devices. Give it a try!


I followed the instruction to set the SD card as the default location. Now I am not only unable to move apps that should be moveable to the SD card, I am unable to move apps that were already on the SD card back to the phone. I tried running the program again, but it said the SD card was already the default location.

Any idea what went wrong?

I think I’ve figured it out. It seems the ART run time does not allow you to move the location of your apps. Guess it’s time to go back to Dalvik and try this thing again.

Good catch.

I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. I doubt I’d upgrade to L if that’s the case.

Thanks !! This is great. I now am able to use that 32 G sd card!!


I tried change and went back Dalvik and I had a time trying to reset it. Don’t change anyone, it’s not good and the few here that tried, knew what they were doing.

Any chance there is a similar program for the Moto E 2nd Gen? I just tried this on my new 2nd gen and it has an error in the program and says “unsupported android device”. Bummer


i’d also like to see this for moto e 2nd gen. would love to download and install apps to my sd card rather than the phone and then having to move them.

Google changed the rules in Lollipop and the default app install location can’t be changed on unrooted phones. So no solution for the E2 in sight, but at least the E2 doesn’t need a solution as badly as the E1. Not sure at this time if the change is made on an E1 before the Lollipop OTA whether it will be maintained after the OTA.


Well this one is out there, but I thought I’d share.

It turns out that someone has created a way to use the MicroSD card as the primary storage by cloning Android to the MicroSD. That would almost create unlimited space. But I didn’t delve into it to much, so I don’t know the details…

Any such things go beyond what average folks can do without voiding their phone’s waranty, which is what my blog presents.

I got that, but I thought I’d mention it. I still battle with storage issues and I have worked them out several different ways.

Thanks though.

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