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How to Install Apps Onto an SD Card Using Android 2.1

Posted on 6 March 2012

Every once in a while I manage to figure out something that there isn’t already an awesome guide to. When that happens, I like to put it here in order to contribute to the general knowledge of Teh Internets. In the interest of that, here is my guide to “Getting More Memory By Installing Apps Onto Your SD Card If You Are Using Android 2.1 (as Tested on an LG Shine Plus)” (all those words are to make this page more findable by someone searching for the exact same thing I was).

First the background. I have an LG Shine Plus Android phone. It’s pretty good for my purposes, but it runs an older version of Android (2.1). This isn’t bad by itself, but it became a problem when I wanted to add more memory.

Some apps I use (namely Rdio and Picplz) had new versions that I wanted to try. However, whenever I went to install them, I was greeted with the message “Installation Unsuccessful” because there was not enough memory for them. I thought moving from a 4 GB SD card to a 16 GB one would solve the problem, but after I backed up my data and swapped it out, I was still greeted with the same error.

After some Googling, this is what I learned: on Android versions 2.1 and earlier, all apps install on the internal memory. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you have an SD card the size of an external hard drive, you’re going to run out of space.

So here’s how you get around that.

1. Backup your data. The internet will help you here.

2. Root your phone. There’s a lot of tutorials for how to do this. I just installed Universal Androot.

3. Install Link2SD. This is an app that lets you move other applications onto your SD card.

4. Partition your SD card into two parts– one to act as normal (for storing photos, music, etc) and one to be the section for your apps. I spent a while trying to figure out how to do this on Windows, and then I remembered I had a Mac laptop. I simply plugged put the new SD card into my phone, plugged my phone into the laptop via USB and opened Disk Utility (an application that comes standard in all Macs). Then I clicked on my phone in the left-hand column, clicked on “Partition” on the right, and made two Fat32 partitions. This was so much easier than what I was attempting to do on Windows that I suggest if you don’t have a Mac you just take your phone and a USB connector to the nearest store with a Mac on display. It takes like two minutes.

5. And that’s it. Now you can run Link2SD, select apps from there and “create links” to send them to the much larger SD card.

The only problem I had is that I had to restart my phone a couple of times before it would accept the dual-partition SD card, but now it’s working fine, with the latest version of all my apps.

Good luck.

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