If you own a Windows 8 tablet or notebook and running out of storage space, you can utilize the microSD memory card slot on your tablet/notebook to add a microSD memory card and then configure Windows to install Modern (Metro) apps on it.
While most of the desktop programs out there offer an option to select the installation drive during the product installation or can be moved all installed programs to a different drive, Modern apps (also known as Metro apps) that you install from the Windows Store don’t allow you choose a custom location for installation and get installed in WindowsApps folder located under Program Files.
Since Windows 8 doesn’t let you choose a custom installation location for Modern apps, we need to manually edit the Registry and set the memory card as default installation location for Windows Store apps.
As mentioned earlier, Windows 8 creates a folder named WindowsApps under Program Files directory located in the root of Windows installation drive and installs all Modern apps in this location by default.
Installing apps on SD card in Windows 8/8.1
Complete the below-mentioned instructions to set your SD card as default installation location for Store apps in Windows 8.
NOTE: We suggest you create a manual system restore point before changing default system settings.
Step 1: Add your microSD memory card to your tablet or notebook (see your tablet’s owner manual for instructions) and back up all contents on the SD card to a safe location. Please note that some tablets including Microsoft Surface might not support memory cards with more than 64 GB capacity.
Step 2: Before editing the Registry to change the installation location, we need to first make sure that the SD memory card is formatted in the NTFS file system. To do this, right-click on the SD card in My Computer (Computer), and click Properties.
If the file system is FAT or FAT32, right-click on the SD card again, click Format, select NTFS as the file system, and then click the Start button to begin formatting the memory card.
Note that formatting will erase all data on the SD card. Be sure to backup data before formatting the memory card. If the memory card is already in NTFS file system, you need not to format it.
Step 3: To be able to change the installation location of apps, we need to take the ownership of Registry key that we’re going to edit with the help of native Registry Editor tool. If you try to edit the below-mentioned Registry key without ownership, you will see “Cannot edit PackageRoot: Error writing the value’s new content” error.
While it’s possible to take the ownership of Registry without using third-party tools, we’re going to use a free tool named RegOwnershipEx to keep the procedure simple.
Download the zip file of RegOwnershipEx, extract the contents to a folder to see two folders named Windows 7 and Windows 8. Open up Windows 8 folder, and then double-click on x86 or x64 folder depending on the version of Windows 8 you’re running, and then double-click on RegOwnershipEx.exe file to launch the same.
Step 4: Once the program is launched, enter the following Registry key in Select the registry key box, click Take Ownership button and then click Open in Registry Editor button to open the required key in Windows Registry Editor.
Step 5: On the right side, double-click on PackageRoot and change the default value data to the location of your SD memory card. For instance, if your SD card’s drive letter is “G”, then enter G:\ in the value data box, and then click Ok button to set your SD card as the default location for apps.
We suggest you create a new folder under the root of your SD card and enter the path of that folder so that you can use the SD card to store other files as well. That is, create a folder named WinApps on the SD card, enter G:\WinApps (replace “G” with SD card’s drive letter) as the location in the value data box.
That’s it! Close Registry Editor and RegOwnershipEx programs and then reboot your PC. From now on, whenever you install a new app from the Store, Windows 8 will install them on your SD card.
Please note that all previously installed apps are located in the original location and will continue to work without any issues.
If you are on Windows 10, refer to our how to move apps to SD card in Windows 10 guide for step-by-step directions.