Saving Pictures from a Samsung Android Smartphone to an SD Card

Wondering how to save your pictures and videos from your android phone onto a memory card? These step by step instructions will show you how to copy all of the pictures from a Samsung Smartphone running on the Android Operating System and how to successfully paste those pictures and videos onto your memory card so they will be nice and safe from any resets or phone issues. It will also allow you to easily transport your pictures from one phone to another if you ever get a replacement.

This article will go over what you need to know for a successful backup of your Samsungs content and I recommend you look over it. If however you would like to skip right to the transfer process and procedure then you can click here to go to that section of the article.

First let’s start with the basics and go from there:

Do you have a memory card?

If you don’t have a memory card then you won’t be able to save your information to one, simple as that. If you don’t have one then you should do some research as to what memory card would be right for you and get one, they are usually pretty affordable and make your life so much easier.

If you’re not sure if you have a memory card, here is how you can check.

Quick Instructions:

Settings > Storage > Unmount SD = You have a Memory Card, Mount SD = No Memory card

Detailed Instructions:

  1. Go to your home page, the screen you see when you first turn on your phone (tap the home key, it’s one of the 4 physical buttons on the bottom underneath the phones display, usually looks like a house)
  2. Tap on your menu key, (it’s one of the four buttons too, usually on the far left.)
  3. Tap settings, (once you tap on the menu key, the phone should show a few options on its screen, one of those options is settings, select settings.)
  4. Scroll to and select Storage, (It should give you a list of options to choose from. Scroll down and select the option that has the word storage in it. This option will be different depending on what type of phone you have; it will say either “Storage” or “SD and Phone Storage”, etc. click on that storage option.)**UPDATE: If your phone is running on Android version 4.0 or later then after tapping on Settings you might have to then select the More option in the upper right hand corner of the screen in order to see this Storage option.**
  5. Look for an option that says “Mount SD card” or “Unmount SD card”, if the phone is reading a memory card then it will say “Unmount SD card”, the phones basically saying I see a memory card in me, do you want me to unmount it so you can take it out without having to power me off first? If it says “mount”, then the phone is not reading a memory card and it will probably be grayed out not even letting you click it.
  6. Don’t click it! If you clicked it, don’t worry it won’t hurt it, just click it again. It needs to read unmount if you want to save stuff to your memory card.

Mount SD = No Memory card

Unmount SD = You have a Memory Card

If that’s too complicated, didn’t make sense, or the issue on your phone won’t let you do that than just look for a physical chip that plugs into your phone, different phones have them in different places, sometimes you have to pull the battery out of the phone to get to it, sometimes it plugs into the side or the bottom, it just depends on the phone. Remember it’s NOT your SIM card that you’re looking for. SD or Memory cards usually say SanDisk on them and often a size like 2GB (two gigabytes) 4GB, 6GB, 8GB, 16GB and up. Some phones come with them some don’t.

If you have a memory card then proceed to the next part of the article, if not click here. If you need to know other methods to save your pictures you can check here. Other methods include computer, Bluetooth, online backups etc.

Is your phone Samsung?

How the phone will allow you to save transfer and manage information will depend on what manufacture made the device. These instructions are for an android Smartphone manufactured by Samsung. If you need instructions on how to backup your android phone and it’s not made by Samsung than you can check out this page. Your device should show “Samsung” branded somewhere onto the phones exterior and should also show the Samsung logo when powering on the phone.

What is your OS?

The Android OS (Operating System) that you’re using will also affect how you manage your information. As newer versions of OS are released it should become easier to transfer and save information. The basic procedure of these instructions should work for most current operating systems 2.3 (Gingerbread) and higher. If you ever want to check your OS on an Android Smartphone then all you need to do is go into your “settings” and click “about phone”. Once you’re in “about phone” then scroll down to where you can see the Android Version… 1.5 is called Cupcake, 1.6 is the Donut, 2.0 and 2.1 are Éclair, 2.2 Froyo, 2.3.x Gingerbread, 3.x.x Honeycomb, 4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.1.x and 4.2.x Jelly Bean, etc. I love computer nerds, look at the version release names, there all alphabetical.

Checking your media

If your information is already saved onto your memory card then you won’t need to save or move anything, the works done. Here is how you can check the information saved onto an SD card.

Quick Instructions:

Applications > My Files > External SD > DCIM > Camera, then check and make sure you can see all your pictures there. If not proceed to the next step.

Detailed Instructions:

  1. Go to your home page – go to your home page. You can get there by pressing your home key.
  2. Go to Applications – tap on and go into your applications. If you see a list of options like manage apps etc then you’re in the wrong applications. You need to go to the applications that show a bunch of icons. For example it’s where you would go to access your picture gallery, downloaded apps, camera etc.
  3. Select My Files – look for the icon that says “My Files”, it might even just say “Files”, and then click and open it. Sometimes it likes to hide out in the open. It’s there under your applications though, so find it and open it.
  4. Select External SD – you might have to scroll down a bit to select External SD. Once you have it open it will show the files and information currently saved to your memory card. If your pictures are saved to the memory card already then you might be able to see them on that window, if not then you might have to go deeper into the files. Sometimes it will show a DCIM folder. This is usually where pictures and videos are saved.
  5. If you see a DCIM folder click it – the DCIM folder might show your pictures directly but often just contains a camera folder and sometimes a thumbnails folder.
  6. Tap Camera – here’s what you’re looking for, your pictures should be shown here in the camera folder.

If you don’t see your pictures saved in your External SD then they are going to be saved on your phone. The pictures are most likely going to be on your phone because that is the default storage location on most Samsung phones, but we’ll get to that later in this article.

Locating and copying your media

Alright here is the meat and potatoes, how to backup your pictures and videos to your memory card.

**UPDATE: If you have a Samsung phone running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, or greater, then How to move pictures and videos to an SD card on a Samsung Android 4.2 smartphone is also a great guide, with pictures, on how to backup files from a Samsung phone to its memory card. If the Android version on your Samsung phone is before the Jelly Bean then feel free to keep reading and enjoy the guide.**

Quick Instructions:

Applications > My Files > DCIM > Camera > Menu key > More > Copy > Select All > Copy > External SD > Paste… Processing… Done.

Detailed Instructions:

  1. Select Applications – just like you did when you were checking to see if your information was already saved to the memory card. You’re going to want to go in to the applications in which you see a bunch of icons. It’s usually found on an androids default home page, but can sometimes be moved.
  2. Tap My Files – again just like you did in the previous step, and it too might just say “Files” instead of “My Files”.
  3. Select DCIM – don’t go into your SD card again, this time you’re looking for the DCIM folder that’s on your phone, not your memory card. So “My Files” then directly to “DCIM”.
  4. Tap Camera – Now you should see all the pictures and videos that you have taken.
  5. Press the Menu Key – usually the physical key below the phones display. On Samsung phones it’s often the far left key that looks like a partial box with a couple horizontal lines in it. Once you press the menu key some options should pop up.
  6. Tap More – this is one of the options that is shown once tapping the menu key. Go ahead and click more.
  7. Tap Copy - just select the option that says copy to let your phone know that you want to copy files from this location.
  8. Tap Select All – A very important step is making sure that all the photos you want to copy are actually selected. You can go through one at a time and make single selections but if you have a lot of pictures, which many people do, I would just select them all. If you don’t see the “Select All” option then you might have to tap on your menu key again. I have yet to see a Samsung phone that didn’t allow the user to select all in one way shape or form.
  9. Hit Copy – once all the media files are selected then tap on copy again, to let the phone know that these are the files you wish to copy. Once you tap on copy the second time the phone should present you with the option to select where you want to actually copy these files to.
  10. Select External SD – you might have to scroll down to see the option to select External SD. Once you do select it.
  11. Paste – once you have selected your External SD you should have the option to “Paste” or “Paste Here” click that. The phone will then start transferring your media files to your external SD card. It might take a few minutes depending on how many pictures and videos you have on your phone. Note: If you don’t see a Paste option then you might have to click the DCIM folder on the External SD page then hit paste. Maybe even External SD then DCIM then Camera, probably not though it should let you paste directly into External SD.

Check the OS

If the steps mentioned above didn’t look quite right for your phone then you might be on a more recent Operating System like the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as opposed to the 2.3 Gingerbread (as mentioned earlier in the article) and the process of moving media will be a little different. To backup pictures on a Samsung Android 4.0 smartphone try this instead:

Applications > My Files > SD card > DCIM > Camera > Menu > Select All > Copy/Move (I myself prefer the copy option when it’s available) > EXT SD card (going to be selecting the external SD card) > DCIM (there is usually a DCIM folder on the memory card as well as the phone) > Camera > Paste (you might have to create a folder to paste or move your content to, but typically you can paste just your pictures if they were all selected from the Camera folder located on the phone itself).

Double checking your information

Once your information is copied onto your memory card you might want to make sure that everything transferred correctly. It’s fairly easy to do because you’ve already done it. Just go back to “Checking your media” in the beginning of the article, and follow the steps.

Once you have checked your files here is how you can make sure they are saved without a doubt.

Go and tap on the “Unmount SD card” (also mentioned earlier when we were checking to see if you even had a memory card). Once the SD card is unmounted it will often give you a confirmation screen stating SD card safe to remove, or the option would have changed from “Unmount SD card” to “Mount SD card”. In any case, once it’s unmounted go back and check your pictures on the SD card again. You should not be able to see them after unmounting the SD.

What you’re basically doing is tricking your phone into not being able to see the memory card, therefore once its unmounted all your pictures stored on the memory card should vanish. Along with any other files on your memory card for that matter.


You have successfully saved all of your pictures and videos to your memory card. Congratulations now they are nice and safe, should you ever need to reset your phone, or if something unexpected happens to your phone and it malfunctions, or if you just get a new phone and want to transfer your stuff over to it. Just pull the SD card out of the phone and put it into the replacement. The new phone should automatically recognize the files and put them on your new phone.

Setting up the phone for the future

Now that you have your files saved from your phone to your memory card you should setup your phone so that when you take a picture or record a video it saves directly to your memory card. Then you don’t have to worry about transferring the information again, it will just get automatically saved to you SD card, which should make your life a bit easier.

The exact process varies from phone to phone but here is the process on the typical android Smartphone.

Quick Instructions:

Camera > Settings > Storage > Memory Card

Detailed Instructions:

  1. Go into Camera – as though you would I you were going to take a picture or record a video.
  2. Tap Settings – it’s often an icon that looks like a little gear.
  3. Tap Storage – to set the location you want your pictures and videos to save to.
  4. Select Memory Card – the phone option is probably the one selected. You don’t want your pictures saved to your phone any more; you want to select SD card or Memory card that way they get saved to it instead.

Then you’re done and you won’t have to worry about your personal media files any more.

Moving other files the same way

The same process we used to backup your pictures can be used to backup other information from the phone onto your memory card. Just copy the file from the phone and paste it onto the memory card. For example if you have a music folder you want to copy over, you can copy and paste it in the same fashion.

Note: you can save contacts to your memory card as well as your SIM card. If you’re doing a full backup on your phone and need to know how to do that as well you can read the article How to Save Contacts on a Samsung Android Phone.

Other Methods of Managing Files

If you want another way to save your files to a memory card you can download an app to help you. The best one I have seen thus far is the ASTRO File Manager application. Just go to the Play Store and do a search for “File Manager” and you can see many free apps to choose from. And free is always in my price range.


I hope you enjoyed the article and the new found knowledge that your information is now safe on your SD card. If you have any questions or comments or suggestions don’t hesitate to leave them down below. I look forward to reading what you have to say, otherwise enjoy.




AWESOME!!! Thanks so much!!

Moving Pics

awesome...worked like a charm. Thanks!!

Moving Photos

The instructions were perfect.

Thank you so much.

Thank you so much. Now I am able to store photos directly to my external memory card.

Very well put together

Very well put together explanations! Thank you!

Saving pictures to SD Card

This was super helpful. It explained it perfectly - I am very satisfied

video turns into picture thumbnail

Hello, I went into the apps-my files, then into all files to move some pictures to sd card. Some how all the pictures end up in device storage in dcim/ .thumbnails and in sd dcim thumbnails. It turned my videos into pictures. Please help!

No lcd screen

I need to backup my phone to the sd card from my computer. I dont want all of it to go onto the computer just the card. Help. My screen is black but the phone is on.

Wow! Thank you so much

Wow! Thank you so much for such clear and concise information! I could never find a set of instructions so easy to follow......most were too technical for me. The time and energy you spent putting this tutorial together are much appreciated.

You’re welcome

Thanks for such a friendly and flattering comment my friend; and thanks for noticing. I do spend a lot of time and energy creating my guides and tutorials and I do try to make them easy for everyone and anyone to follow.

So thanks again for taking the time to comment, I am glad that you found this tutorial helpful.

Backing up memos, messages and calendar

Hi. Some of this article was useful, but most of it not at all.
My Samsung Galaxy doesn't have a folder inside "my files" called "SD Card" or "External SD Card". I'm guessing because everything is storing straight to the Card anyway.
So, it seems I don't need to back up my pics or movies as they're already going straight to the card.
But I do need to back up all my Memos, my calendar and my sms messages.
How do I do that?

How to backup the information on your Samsung Galaxy

Hello Jon,

Please remember that this article is intended to help you backup pictures to a memory card. If you don’t have a memory card inserted in your Samsung Galaxy cell phone then it will NOT show an External SD option. If you have a memory card and it is working properly then you should be able to browse the files stored to that SD Card to verify that the pictures and movies are stored on it. Make sure to follow the first part of this guide and verify that you have a memory card and that it is communicating with your Samsung Galaxy properly.

I am not sure what Samsung Galaxy smartphone you are currently using (Captivate, SII, SIII, S4, S5, one of the Notes, etc.) or what version of the Android Operating system your phone is currently running on so I cannot give you detailed suggestions or specific advice BUT if you are more of a visual person (like myself) then check out How to backup files to a memory card on a Samsung Android 4.2 smartphone. It shows, with pictures, how to move files such as pictures and movies to a memory card using an S4 as an example.

As far as backing up your other information such as your memos, messages, and calendar, the process is going to be a little different…

I think that you will find How to Backup and Reset and Android cell phone very helpful in saving data from your Samsung Galaxy smartphone including your Calendar (which Gmail should help backup), Your Messages (no default way to do this so you will have to use an App like SMS Backup and Restore), and as far as your Memos… I don’t really use the Memo feature on my cell phone so I personally have never had to create a backup of it before BUT I believe that Samsung Kies can help you backup your Memos (and most of your phones info) to your PC.

I hope that helps. If you have any more questions then don’t hesitate to ask.

Need to back up phone but lcd screen isn't working

hi, i've a Samsung Galaxy S4 and the screen just stopped working. the phone is ringing and text and emails i can hear coming in but because i cannot see the screen i cannot unlock the phone.
Is there anyway i can back up the picutures and data on the phone before it gets replaced.
My previous phone was a BlackBerry and whenever i did a back up on the pc, the pc screen would ask me for the unlock key.
Help..... Debbie

Trying to backup an S4 with a malfunctioning display screen

Hi Debbie,

Sorry to hear that your display screen stopped working. Good description of your issue by the way very helpful. Ok, your phone is still working so a PC is going to be your best bet, if you have a password or unlock pattern then your PC isn’t going to allow you to view the files on your phone without unlocking the phone first. Which is going to be difficult as you cannot see your display screen.

Which feature did you use to secure your cell phone? Swipe, Face unlock, Face and voice, Pattern, PIN or Password?

Chances are very high that even though your display screen is having issues your touch screen is probably still working properly. Since people who use unlock patterns etc use those patterns frequently you might be able to still unlock your phone by making the same gesture on the screen by memory. You will not be able to see the screen of course but if you enter the correct unlock pattern your computer will allow you to access the content on your phone and perform a backup to your PC. 

If you plug your Samsung Galaxy S4 into a computer it should prompt you to open folder to view files but it won’t show anything until the phone is unlocked. Once the cell phone is unlocked it will show “Phone” which is the phones internal storage and if you have an external memory card you will see another option labeled “Card”. So you can plug your S4 into your PC and you will know that you successfully unlocked your cell phone when those options pop up.

Try that, if possible, and let me know one way or the other. If you have any issues or cannot get your pattern entered correctly then let me know what security feature you used to lock your phone (as a password option would be difficult to enter correctly without seeing the screen) and we’ll go from there.

lcd screen on s4 not working

Hi James,

thanks for your prompt reply, unfortunately my phone is protected by PIN only and i've tried to imagine where the numbers should be but its not working.
I've also put my sim back into it and tried ringing it, and while it is ringing when i try to swipe to answer it wont answer the call.  So i think the touch screen is not working on it either.

Any other possibilities before i send it back to Samsung??


A PIN code would make it more difficult.

I will setup a PIN on my S4 and send you a screenshot of the unlock screen. Hopefully it will help show you exactly where you can press and allow you to unlock it. You might be right though, if you called your S4 and couldn’t answer the call then your touch screen might be malfunctioning as well.  I tried to see if I could access the storage through a computer a few ways but couldn’t get into it without the PIN code. Which is good as that is why PIN codes exist in the first place but unfortunate when it comes to trying to salvage your data through a computer on a locked Android smartphone with a malfunctioning display screen.

I got my fingers crossed in the hopes that your touch screen is still functional and that the screenshot of my S4s unlock screen will help you unlock your cell phone. Note: I had to unplug my S4 a few times from the computer for it to recognize and allow me to access my cell phones information properly. Just thought I would mention that in case you enter your PIN properly but the phone doesn’t pop up on your PC right away.

Good Luck Debbie, if there is anything else that I can do to try and help just let me know.

Galaxy discover transfer memory help

Hi I have a Samsung Galaxy Discover. My SD card is in and it tells me how much storage is on it. My problem is that there is no "my files" or "files" for me to click. My SD is empty and my internal storage is full. How do I transfer memory with no "file's button"?

Transferring pictures and files on the Samsung Galaxy Discover

Hi Cheri,

It is very, very odd that you do not have a “My Files” option available on your Samsung Galaxy. Double or even triple check your entire list of applications just to make sure you didn’t overlook it (that’s actually more common than you might think; sometimes this feature likes to play hide and seek).

If you quadruple check your list of applications and you do not have a “Files” or more particular a “My Files” option (make sure to use THIS GUIDE as a reference) then you can download an app off of the Google Play Store to help you. Just do a search for “File Manager” and many different options will be available to you. One of my favorite file manager applications is the “ASTRO file manager” as its pretty user friendly and a very popular choice.

5 stars for such easy to follow instructions

Thank you so much for setting up these easy to use easy to follow instructions. I have been so frustrated trying to follow other forums for moving files to my sd card. It took me one look on yours and I got it to work :)

Thank you very much!

Thank you very much! This was a HUGE help!

Thank you so much.

Thank you so much. This was extremely helpful.

My Samsung Galaxy S Duos

My Samsung Galaxy S Duos smartphone says your phone's memory is getting low. What should I do?

You might need to free up some storage space

Hi Rajashekhar,

If your Samsung smartphone is showing a message that your phone’s memory is getting low then chances are good that there is not much storage space left on your cell phones internal memory. I would check your Samsungs available storage and if it is indeed almost full then I would invest in a good memory card and move as much information as you can to that memory card. You can use the advice listed in the article above as a reference for moving much of the information currently stored on your internal storage to an external storage like an SD card.

how to save pics to sd card from smartphone

I just want to thank you soooo much. Such a HUGH help. I did it and it worked just like you said. I dont know what I would have done without your help. Again, Thank you!!

Saving files to SD card

Thank you so much. You are brilliant in how you explained the process to us lay people. I have never had instructions made so simple. It was almost as if you were in side my head seeing all the possible questions I would have and all the pitfalls doing this process. How intuitive.... how brilliant..... what a gift you have!

Add new comment