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How to Install Windows Store Apps to an SD Card or Another Drive

windows-store-header

Windows 8 installs applications to your C:\ drive by default, but you may want to change where Windows 8 stores these apps. For example, you could install them to an SD card or secondary hard drive.

This works on both Windows 8 and Windows RT. It’s useful whether you are using a Microsoft Surface, another Windows 8 tablet, or just a computer with a small SSD and a larger secondary drive.

Prepare the New Drive

Before we begin, we  must prepare the new install location. First, open a File Explorer window. Right-click the drive where you want to install Windows 8 apps – whether it’s an SD card, hard drive, or whatever else – and select Properties.

open-drive-properties

Ensure that the drive is formatted as NTFS.

drive-file-system-properties

If the drive isn’t formatted as NTFS, you will need to format the drive as NTFS to continue. (Many SD cards are formatted with the FAT file system instead.)

Back up any important data from the drive before continuing – formatting will delete all data on the drive. Right-click the drive and select Format.

format-a-drive-in-windows-8

Choose the NTFS file system and click Start.

format-as-ntfs

You will want to create a folder for the apps on the drive. You can name it whatever you like, such as WindowsApps or Windows8Apps.

windows-store-app-folder

Change the Registry Setting

You will now need to open the registry editor. Press the Windows key, type regedit at the Start screen, and press Enter.

Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Appx key.

appx-key-in-registry

Select the Appx key, click Edit, and click Permissions. (Ensure the Appx key is selected or you’ll modify permissions for another key instead!)

appx-key-permissions

Click the Advanced button.

advanced-registry-key-permissions

Click the Change link next to TrustedInstaller.

change-trustedinstaller-owner

Type Administrators into the box, click Check Names, and click OK. This will give all administrators on the computer ownership of the registry key.

select-user-or-group-permissions

Enable the Replace owner on subcontainers and objects checkbox and click OK.

replace-owners-on-subcontainers-and-objects

Select Administrators in the Permissions for AppX window and click the Allow option next to Full Control. Click OK and you will now be able to edit the appropriate registry setting.

allow-registry-key-permissions

Double-click the PackageRoot value in the right pane and enter the location of the folder you created earlier. That’s E:\Windows8Apps\ in the case of our example.

change-packageroot-value

Reboot your computer. Your changes won’t take effect until you reboot.

restart-windows-8

Move Old Apps to the New Location [Optional]

This will only affect apps you install in the future. Previously installed apps will remain at the old location. To move these apps to the new location, you can uninstall them from your computer and then reinstall them from the Windows Store.


Thanks to tamarasu on the XDA Developers forum for first discovering this geeky trick!

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 02/10/13

Comments (12)

  1. YB

    Microsoft should have made an easier way to do this. The Surface RT doesn’t exactly ship with a lot of space. Now the Surface Pro is a totally different story seeing as you can install Desktop apps, and it has much more hard drive space

  2. Neville

    Thanks for the tip of installing apps to another drive.

    Neville.

  3. Roy

    I have a Pandigital Tablet and have no idea how to tranfer pics or anything to the SD Card I put in it.
    It is a 4 gb SD Card.
    When I clicked on the pre-installed icon for Skype, it automatically put it on the SD Card, I have no idea how it did it.
    I haven’t used Skype yet but it is located on the Card.
    I miss having a real computer.
    Anyone that wants to send me a real computer, I would greatly apprieate it.
    :-)

  4. DW

    Once again this proves that Windows 8 is NOT a Desktop OS. If I wanted to be controlled I would have bought an Apple Mobile devise and or joined the Catholic Church,
    DW.

  5. Amar

    Hey Roy!

    you know what you need to do? Complain to Microsoft. if anybody has a problem with Windows 8 in any way, shape or form, direct your problem to Microsoft for putting out a garbage OS.

  6. awoll2000

    What a pain in the ass. Can someone tell me why programs don’t install themselves, lock stock and barrel, into one folder. That way a program could be copied to another computer with ease. Call it a backup or whatever. At least the user would have control of what was paid for. Not big brother.

  7. Bigote

    Help I followed the instructions to the letter changing the key. Now my apps wont install at the new location IF anything I was stupid not to copy the old string but could you supply me with that information. What was the default string so I can change it back?

  8. Mats Svensson

    The latest in the series:
    “How to do simple things in Win8 in only 100 simple steps.”

  9. Alex

    Im not sure why this is necessary…if you have to refresh your windows 8 machine (NOT reformat it), all of your apps will be automatically added with no problems.

    I guessing all these Win8 haters are Linux guys/gals. That IS an assumption. Win8 is not all that bad, it could be better, but its not that bad.

  10. chris

    @Alex: pretty sure you’re paid for those comments, good job.

    Win8 user restriction really are a pain in the a. I wouldn’t even care too much on where to install the apps, since I only use a few anyway. But now you can’t even choose on which drive to install office 2013! All the advantages gone, I can directly go buy a mac :/

    @Bigote: I had the same problem, its C:\Program Files\WindowsApps

  11. chris

    @Bigote: Make sure the folder you point the registry entry to exists, then you should be ok ;)

  12. cmh294

    I followed the guide, but now, when I open the app, it closes up automatically. Any suggestions?

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