Introduction: How to Bypass Android 4.4 (KitKat) External SD Write Restrictions Without Root

Picture of How to Bypass Android 4.4 (KitKat) External SD Write Restrictions Without Root

Android 4.4 (KitKat) has some good and bad sides. Probably the most nasty one is that you are stripped of the possibility to write any kind of data on your external SD card, which limits you only to your internal storage. With 4-8 Gb of internal space this certainly is a problem. You can try rooting your device, but it's not always easy. So, if you want to be able to write on your SD card, here are some tips and solutions.


Wow! I didn't expect so many people to actually read this! Thank you all! I'm happy if it proved helpful to someone. I've noticed that some people say that it doesn't work because they can't find the specific path I've mentioned. So, there is an alternative.

You can download B1 File Manager which has this Sandbox feature. Basically it's your shortcut to the folder where you can place your files. This will probably eliminate the confusion. Good luck!

Step 1: Preparations

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What you need is an app capable of moving files. Here we're going to use B1 File Manager and B1 Free Archiver. Both of them have similar file management capabilities (though the first one is actually superior).

They are both free, easy to install and use on any Android device: tablets, smartphones, be they rooted or not.

Step 2: Know the Basics

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First of all it should be noted that KitKat does not limit ALL writing operations. Third-party apps can write to their own, specifically designated folders. B1 Free Archiver and B1 File Manager are not exception. In short, you can extract archives and move files to a specified folder created on an SD card after the app is installed.

Step 3: Moving Files to SD Card With B1 Free Archiver

Picture of Moving Files to SD Card With B1 Free Archiver

In B1 Free Archiver you can access that folder by going to your external SD card and following this path:

Android - data - - files

Step 4: Moving Files to SD Card With B1 File Manager

Picture of Moving Files to SD Card With B1 File Manager

The same is true for B1 File Manager. The path looks like:

Android - data - - files

Step 5: VERY Important Notes

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So, by moving your files to the respective folder, you can bypass SD card limitation. However, there are some things to keep in mind.

1. If you uninstall B1 Free Archiver or B1 File Manager, the folder of the respective app on an SD card will be deleted and all data will be lost. So, before you do that better copy the content of “files” folder into your internal storage.

2. You can check the storage space occupied by the app inside Application Manager in Settings. This information is shown in SD card data option. Do NOT tap the Clear data button! Otherwise your files stored in the application’s folder on SD card will be deleted.

Otherwise, in case you want to keep your files sorted by folders, like Photos or Music, you can rely on built-in file managers provided by the device manufacturer. Not all of them have such a file manager and, in case they do, their functionality is rather limited. However, you can use them to move files on an SD card.

Certainly it’s just a temporary and, probably, not the most elegant solution, however it works.


BehnamA7 (author)2017-03-24


TechL1 (author)2016-04-30

best way to bypass android kitkat 4.4

StingyNinja (author)TechL12017-03-20

"Without Root".

1st instructions? MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ROOT.

TricksH10 (author)2016-10-22

How to bypass Android 4.4 (KitKat) external SD write restrictions without root

StingyNinja (author)TricksH102017-03-20

"Without Root".

1st instructions? MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ROOT.

tricksandhacks789 (author)2017-03-12

Bypass Android 4.4 (KitKat) External SD Write Restrictions Without Root

"Without Root".

1st instructions? MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ROOT.

Ukhozi (author)2016-10-20

This whole KitKat crap is doing my head in. I have a Excelvan BT13 9.6" tablet running Android 4,4,2 and I cannot get ANY of the rooting apps to root the darn thing, in the meantime I downloaded B1 but no sandbox.?? I also have a Vodafone Turbo 4 running Android 4,4,4 and that has always from day one been able to access the SD card, in fact I am screwed without it as the internal memory is quite small. So how come my phone has no problem on 4,4,4 but my tablet/phone on 4,4,2 is a pig?


IonutI7 (author)Ukhozi2017-03-04

if you haven't managed to root the excelvan tablet yet you could try kingroot app, it worked for my excelvan android videoprojector

chinese software goes well with chinese stuff

walterallen1st (author)2016-11-26

Not for me to complicated

ChristianB186 made it! (author)2016-09-14

Alternatively, ask the developer of the app in question to use the storage access framework -- then you can use the external SD card like you would the internal storage.

The Battle andH (author)2015-11-03

Thank you! I was able to make space for my phone. I recommend 10/10

DerDok (author)The Battle andH2016-09-04

10/10? whats that?, I cant find it when I Google it.

th3gam36 (author)2016-04-06

Most often people see the problem for what resolutions they have failed to accomplish. In all reality if you know anyone who can successfully root your S6 or the newest Motorolla to maybe the first gen Galaxy then you will maybe unseratand the lengthy process and the liability that comes with this task.
However don't get me wrong rooting is the way to go. And if you are tech savvy to not destroy your contract with the phone company and make use of a paperweight then I suggest you help all these users who are having a dilemma on how to be able to r/w/h on something as simple as an sd card.
For what it's worth good luck finding anything on your phone.

M.J5 (author)2016-02-24

Unfortunately, the presented workaround has one CRITICAL FLAW which defeats its whole purpose.

The B1 File Manager (at least on my LG H220 Joy w/ KitKat 4.4.x) won't show ANY installed apps and cannot access their folders, most probably due to their root owner/group permissions. This means you won't be able to move ANY installed apps (which are root by nature) to your SD card, in spite of what was suggested.

What you need is a rooted mobile, and when it is rooted - who would need such a workaround? So you can see it's quite pointless.

JosephB101 (author)2016-02-23

I HATE the pre-installed 'My Files' app! Whoever wrote that should be fired, and then hung by the .....!

And I hate that, that's the 'only way' to write to the external SD Card.

It's a piece of garbage, and I won't begin to list all the flaws I've found in it. That's not why I Googled this topic.

I just spent '1 hour' on the telephone with Samsung 'trying' to get, One Simple Question Answered.

And, 'of course' they wouldn't get into that question, without the remote access thing, (which really I hate giving to someone!).

Now I know that there has been two updates to Android since the 4.4.2 that's currently on my S4 phone.

My question to Samsung was; In any updated versions of Android, was the issue of writing to the external SD Card, (with anything other than the 'My Files' app), resolved?

In other words, 'I' I updated to a later version of Android, can I use any other file manager, to write to the external SD Card?

I generally use an app that I found in the PlayStore called, 'X-plore', as my main file manager. It's a nice file manager... But I can't write to the external SD Card using it.

I am 'not' going to update to any newer version of Android, unless I'm told that this whole issue had been fixed in a later version.

After that 'hour' on the phone with Samsung, I still don't have a definite answer.

Can anyone here tell me if this issue had been fixed, and in which newer version of Android?

I found out a long time ago about this issue, and that I wasn't the only one complaining about it.

lginillinois (author)2016-02-02

The B1 file manager is the perfect solution. I use it on my KitKat android device to transfer straight from google to my External SD card. Thanks so much for the info!

ealda_munuo (author)2015-02-08

I don't quite follow. Unless an app can take ownership of a file on the other than it's own, designated folder, it will not be able to write any information onto that folder, yes?

Here's an instance:

Using an app like software data cable to transfer a large file onto your external sd card (as one could before this whole thing happened) is now an impossible task and I don't understand how copy-pasting folders will change that.

Google, being Google, decided to revoke en masse write permissions given to third party apps earlier since it allowed any app to read any folder that it was programmed to without restrictions thereby making it a field day for malware. How does copy-pasting folders overwrite that function? Don't file ownership details and permissions have to be changed? How does one bypass that without rooting the device?

Moreover, B1 allows you to move media up and down and into the sd card and one only needs to do that on a regular basis now as compared to before when the app was allowed to do it by itself. But I digress, my point was that I didn't really follow the tutorial;

1) do we need to create a brand new folder for the app somewhere using the b1 file manager or is this simply a way to move files around in b1 itself?

2) "files" the folder you used, was it merely an example or are you referring to that specific folder and are suggesting changes pertaining to it?

3) Is this tutorial to enable a third party app to use the sd card (albeit in it's own folder created using this method) as a storage space as an alternative to the internal memory?

Sorry if I sound stupid, but I really did get lost and didn't quite comprehend the process up there..

BillD8 (author)ealda_munuo2015-10-20

Despite the stories I have never found malware to be a serious issue (yet) on android. I've found antiviral software causes more hassle than help and I no longer use any on my Android device. (I also have never had the need to use antiviral on my Linux based Ubuntu laptop. Malware is mainly, as yet an MS Windows issue.)
The security risk I believe isn't a risk for you or I, but a risk for Googles, it's affiliates, and producers of copyrighted material's profits.
To me it implies users having little true control of their devices, with Google taking the rind and acting as God.

To answer your last point, the "files" folder is a path into your sd card, and you can create sub folders within it like "music", "movies", "documents" etc).
It works perfectly well, however it is tiresome and cumbersome.

esquivel1 (author)BillD82016-01-07

hi! i ended up in this thread looking for ways to enable ALL apps to write to external sd on lollipop 5.1.1

With a rooted phone i have found that i can easily move files using the es file manager but what i want to do is to be able to set apps to write on the external sd card by default (i.e torrent app, browser). are you aware of any apps that rid the phone of the crappy new restrictions that android has imposed? also, could custom roms be free of this thing?

i am looking to get rid of this restriction once and for good and have promised to myself to never update again, not until the geniuses at google decide to stop freaking out and acting like they own our lives

Bananagunz (author)2015-12-01

If you have a rooted devicethe much more logical and useful method would be to; A) download the 'Kitkat SD Card Fix' from xposed(its a hidden app, no icon, doesnt have a UI, just does what its supposed to do and nothing more, which equals very few system resources being ate up to solve a problem that shouldnt exist). You can download the fix's apk by itself if you dont want the xposed installer. B) download one of the many apps from the play store which claim to do the same thing. or C) manually change the permissions file. If youd like to go this route there are plenty if resources to explain it!

Also, if you're not rooted, get rooted! Why not? It wont effect your phone negatively, most phones have very simple "one-click" root methods now and it unlocks the full potential of your device!

LynneaB (author)Bananagunz2015-12-26

I downloaded the installer as well as the module but still find that move to sd is grayed out. Suggestions?

Darkcloudx79 (author)2015-12-11

So that's great for phones, what about a tablet running on Android OS?

Wodotz (author)2015-10-30

I know that you can delete files and moved without installing any apps.. Just borrow ur friends phone. And then put your SD Card on your friends phone. Take note: just not a samsung phone. Just other brand phone. When you insert the SD Card you can now delete files and move a file. Because this system of android 4.4 Kitkat is only have at samsung phones. Thats why you cant delete or move files.

BillD8 (author)Wodotz2015-11-19

yes, you can do that by transferring card to a phone with an older version of android, or on laptops with appropriate slots, HOWEVER, any files on the card are unusable when you put the card back into your up to date phone.

pretty much google have rendered their own devices as no more than childrens toys by doing this, and their claim? for our own safety? yeh, right.

BillD8 (author)2015-11-19

great idea, but in practice it is pointless.

YES, B1 can write to ext SD card, HOWEVER, you can only fill your ext card to the same capacity as your internal storage has.
for example, my sony xperia d2303 i have 4.95gb of space, and when i add files to the B1 sandbox on ext sd card it still registers as if the files where being written to int storage, despite my ext sd having 32gb fre space.
so its pretty pointless installing this device as whether you use or dont user it to write to sd card, your phone will still assume it is filling up the int storage.
thanks, but no thanks.

be-each (author)2015-10-30

I used these instructions to create folders on the external card using ES file explorer:
I believe image #2 of the pop-up looks different when I did it, and it was a little confusing how to select the external card as the "root". If I remember well, you need to confirm a string at the bottom of the screen by clicking on it that shows a path with a few directories like ....^K/^L... I don't remember exactly anymore, because you have to do this only once (once you do it right). I only remember some capital letters and the ^ signs, and I didn't really know what I was doing, or the screens were not clear to me, but after a few misses, I got it right. Hence the "hoops"...

be-each (author)2015-08-04

I am confused about the instructions. I believe that all folders named and in the android\data folder on the external card are (automatically) created by apps that have the built-in ability to write to the external card. If apps don't have that ability (to do that by default), you will (repeatedly) have to manually move files to your external card. In that case you can create any folder and put them in there, you don't have to use the above folder structure. The challenge is to allow a file managing app to make the external card writable directly from your phone. ES file manager can do that after you go through some hoops (not rooting your phone) and I guess B1 can do that too. Not sure how this has to do with anything sandboxed. I am now looking for an app that can do one-way syncs from the built-in sd card to the external sd card so I don't have to do it manually.

ChristianW19 (author)be-each2015-10-29

How to perform ES hoops to do that? I'm using Samsung Core 2 and confused with this...

DhanG1 (author)2015-10-22

I tried so many times as instructed but after android - data "'" isn't shown. What to do? I can't delete or move or copy and anything I download stores in mobiles memory not in external sd card. I mean what is the use of external sd card if u can't do anything? Anyone can give me idea I would br thankful.

Mohd AshfaqA (author)2015-04-01

Guys i found a much easier steps to overcome the problem to access external card in Android 4.4....Follow the link below:

BillD8 (author)Mohd AshfaqA2015-10-20


BillD8 (author)BillD82015-10-20

The hack that the link is meant to point to needs root.

That hack need your phone to be rooted, and undermines the security Google/Android intended with the write limitation.

Tha trick in this guide does nothing improper, and hence is better in my view, though more limited in solving the irritation...

BillD8 (author)2015-10-19

It amazes me how corporations like Google word things to sound as if it is for our own good.
Really this us for their own benefit and that if their partners and subcontractors. In other words for their own security and from pressure from copyrighted media producers.
Inbuilt preinstalled ("approved") apps can write to ext sd, but not independent (3rd party) apps which allow you to do as you will, which is part of the was on "piracy".

Any one or anything that can bypass your device password can read any information they want from your device and ext sd anyway. So what's the deal here with regards security here really?
And why keep such potentially sensitive details on a phone for eg?

Google have simply lost custom. Or will once people catch on.
Further , the ability to grant or not grant permissions to wrote to ext sd should be with the device owner and NOT Google. And further you should also have the right to be admin/root of your own device, rather than an external control from a faceless corporation you have no true dialogue with.
Indeed, It may be argued that this seems more worrying than the threat of piracy ever does

Perhaps the new wave of Linux based devices about to hit the market via Ubuntu may have found their hole in Googles arrogance.
Windows offer no serious alternative as their mobile devices seem no more than mere advertising means for their own subsidiaries and partners with the devices not offering any independent true user freedom.

Long term this ext sd card issue from 4.4 may well demonstrate exactly what the geeks have been earning us about Google and windows all along.

BillD8 (author)BillD82015-10-19

B1 file manager works very well with its sd sandbox option and your ability to create sub directories (subfolders) within its "files" folder, but it is very clumsy and hassly to do this all the time.

Would be nice if this comments thread could allow for comment editing. (I can't see such here)

StevenD24 (author)2015-09-22

DavidB173 (author)2015-09-02

Clarification - the copy and paste need to go to the cache folder. However, it still will not let you modify the files but you can at least move them over.

Great trick since my laptop died and I needed to move files/music from the GS3 when I got a new phone.

DavidB173 (author)2015-09-02

I made this work with ES Explorer, relatively easy. Note 4 on 5.0.1- was surprised b/c GS3 update made this impossible before.

Make sure to have a folder on the ExtSD of the following:


You'll need to copy and paste the files/folders in ES Explorer straight to this folder. It's not exactly organized, but it works.

Tested with the following: MX Player (multiple MKV's), PowerAmp (played/scanned tracks no issues), PDF Reader w/Dropbox (read every PDF I could throw at it).

Hope this helps, Instructables has always been awesome when I needed it.

hoohooco (author)2015-08-31

This is all fine and dandy but how do I write to the EXTERNAL SD card? You know? The tiny one you put in the back?

TorstenS (author)2015-08-07

Let me add that the screen showed in step 5 does not reflect my screen. There is NO Move to SD option in mine (Acer Iconia One 7)

TorstenS (author)2015-08-07

The referenced download is the ordinary app. No Sandbox. My SD card does not contain the necessary folder. As expected it cannot be created or copied from main memory. Should I create it on yhe SD card with a PC?

QuentinF (author)2015-07-29

There isn't an org.B1Android file manager on my external sd card

QuentinF (author)2015-07-29

I can't figure out how this works. Can you give a simpler version

OrdinaryG (author)2015-07-16

I have a Lenovo A6000 with android version 4.4.4

And I am unable to add files to or format my sd card due to the change in android security policy. Neither are my downloaded apps allowed to be stored on my external storage. Even after connecting to my laptop for editing the content of my sd card, I am unable to do so. And this totally sucks!

Can anyone please help me fix this?

clarkchards (author)2015-07-10

Use CM File Browser, it works!

KevinJ16 (author)2015-07-10

jelleykat. (author)2015-05-28

Well, it worked, sorta. (I have an LG Optimus Exceed.) I used B1 File Manager. No prob finding the path, just took me awhile to figure out how to move my music files.. So I popped the SD card into an old phone, the songs are there, play fine. But when the card is in my Android phone, it is not seeing or playing the songs. (sigh...) Suggestions appreciated.

AmyT7 (author)2015-05-22

Using the Samsung S4 Active, all you have to do is make sure the write protection lock is in place on the sd card then plug the phone into your computer and log in using "Media" instead of "Camera" when asked. Then you can delete anything you like from the SD will no longer be write protected! Nothing can be deleted in "Camera" Mode as it write protects the sd card, but "Media" mode unlocks it!

TimS13 (author)2015-02-22

Sorry to say but both of these apps failed to copy or move files on my Samsung Note 3 running 4.4.2 - so, anyone else found this on their smartphone? I got a popup message to say "Could not delete file. Cannot write to the selected folder. Please try again with another folder on your sd card." This is what happened when I tried to delete an empty folder on the external sdcard. I thought this B1 File Manager was supposed to do all these functions without having root? Would like to hear of anyone elses similar experiences or a fix for this.


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