Every tablet Amazon has released in the past few years has featured a microSD card slot, which is a nice thing to have if you’re using a tablet that may have as little as 8GB of built-in storage. You can pick up just about any Class 10 or UHS microSD card to add up to 256GB of expandable storage.
But it wasn’t until I picked up a 2017 edition of the Fire HD 8 tablet that I actually got to see for myself how Amazon Fire tablets handle SD cards… and it’s actually pretty nice. Amazon gives you a lot of control over the way your tablet uses SD cards.
You can decide whether you want to apps to be installed on the SD card, whether movies, music, or other content should automatically be downloaded to the SD card, or whether photos should be stored to the card. You can move apps that are already installed to the SD card, or move them back to internal storage. Or you can just treat the card as removable storage and load it up with music, movies, documents, or other files.
Here’s how SD cards work on a Fire HD 8 tablet running Fire OS 5.4. Things should look pretty similar on the Fire 7 tablet as well.
Open the door covering the SD card slot, insert a card that’s formatted using the FAT32 or exFAT file system, and you’re good to go.
If you’ve already loaded music or videos onto the card, you should be able to find them by going to the Music or Video tabs in the home screen launcher… although it may take a little work to find them.
For example, in the Music tab you’ll need to tap “My Music,” then tap the Settings icon, and then toggle the option that says “Offline Music Mode” so that you only see music that’s on your device and not music in the cloud that you’ve added to your Amazon Prime library.
If you’ve already downloaded some music to your device, there’s also an option in the Music Settings labeled “transfer all offline music.” You can press this to copy music from internal storage to the SD card.
For videos, open the Video tab, select Library, open Settings, and then choose “Personal Videos.”
Or you can just use a third-party file explorer like File Commander or Total Commander, navigate to the files you want to open, and then select the app you want to use. Personally, I’m using Solid Explorer, which isn’t available from the Amazon Appstore, but which you can download from the Google Play Store (if you’ve installed that), or from a third-party source like APKMirror.
You can either load music, movies, and other content onto your SD card by ejecting the card, inserting it into a card reader on your computer and copying files, or by plugging your tablet into a computer with a USB cable so that it shows up as a storage device. That second option is probably safer if you’re using a tablet that’s already had a card inserted, since it reduced the risk of data loss or corruption. But see below for instructions on safely ejecting the SD card.
Choose which items should be downloaded to the SD card
Once your SD card is inserted, Fire OS will automatically save certain types of content you download in the future to the card. But you can choose which items are and are not saved.
Open the Fire OS settings menu, choose the Storage option, and then scroll down until you see the SD card section.
There are a list of toggles. You can enable or disable options including:
- Download Movies and TV Shows to Your SD Card
- Download Music to Your SD Card
- Store Photos and Personal Videos on your SD card
- Download Audiobooks to your SD card
- Download Books and Periodicals to your SD card
Most of these options have to do with content downloaded from Amazon. The photos and personal videos option refers to content you shoot with your tablet’s cameras.
Install (or move installed) apps to the SD card
There’s one other toggle labeled “Install Supported Apps on your SD card.” Once enabled, any apps that you attempt to install in the future that can be loaded onto the SD card will be.
There’s also a “Move Apps to SD Card” option that will move any pre-installed apps that are compatible with running from an SD card. Note that it can take a long time for that process to complete, so be patient.
While moving apps to your SD card is a one-click, long-wait process, I noticed there’s no quick and easy way to move all apps from your SD card back to built-in storage. But you can do it one-by-one.
Just tap the “SD Card Storage” option in your Storage settings, choose “Apps & Games” on the following screen, and then you’ll see a list of SD Card Compatible apps that are installed on the card. Tap any of those apps to bring up a detail screen that includes an option to “Move to Tablet.”
Keep in mind that while this will free up space on your device, you could run into a few issues:
- If you remove the SD card for any reason, you won’t be able to run apps that are installed on the card.
- You might not save as much data as you expect, since some portions of some apps will remain on the tablet’s internal storage.
- Read and write speeds for most SD cards probably aren’t as fast as for the tablet’s built-in storage, so depending on your card, your tablet may perform some tasks more slowly.
- If your SD card fails, it will take your apps with it.
Remove or Erase your card
Want to eject your card? Then you’ll probably want to make sure it’s not in use first.
Go to the Storage settings, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see an option marked “Safely Remove SD Card.” This will stop any tasks associated with the card to prevent problems.
Or if you want to erase everything on the card, there’s an option for doing that too.
Fortunately there’s a warning message the pops up before you take either action, so it takes at least two clicks to erase or eject the SD card, making it less likely that you’ll do either by accident.
You also won’t be able to erase or eject the SD card if your tablet is connected to a computer via a USB cable. You’ll need to unplug the tablet before making those sorts of changes to the card.
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