How To Sideload Apps from SD Card On Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone Store allows you to easily install apps to your phone, but sometimes you might need to install them on a micro-SD card first and sideload.

The great thing about mobile devices is you can sideload apps that aren’t officially supported in their respective app stores. For instance, owners of the Kindle Fire who want to install apps that aren’t in Amazon’s App Store.

There’s a few reason to sideload with Windows Phone 8 too. Like installing apps you might find in the XDA developers forum. Or, download apps to the SD card and have the ability to install them when you don’t have a data or WiFi connection. Then you can download large apps – usually games – and install them. Also, if you reset your phone to factory settings, having all of your apps on the SD card will make reinstalling them much easier.

Note: You will need to use your phone’s micro-SD card for this to work. You can’t use your phone’s internal storage. So if you have the popular Nokia Lumia 920 or HTC 8X  you can’t do this, as those devices have plenty of storage already, with no option for an SD card. For this article I’m using the Nokia Lumia 520 with a 32 GB micro-SD

Download Windows Phone Store Apps to PC

First head to the Windows Phone Store in a browser on your PC. Then search or browse the store for the app you want – in this example I’m grabbing Jetpack Joyride with Internet Explorer. On the app landing page, keep scrolling down until you see the “Download and Install Manually link” and click it.

Download and Install Manually

When the message comes up at the bottom of Internet Explorer select a location on your PC to save the XAP file.

Save As

Copy Apps to SD Card and Install

Now you need to copy the files to your phone. In File Explorer, navigate to the root directory of your phone’s SD card and copy the XAP files to it.

Drag to Root

When your done, your phone’s SD card directory should look something like the image below. I manually downloaded three apps which show the app name and .XAP file extension.

SD Card XAP Files

After the XAP files are copied to the SD card, unplug your phone and power it completely off and back on to restart.

Power off Windows Phone Windows Phone Home

After the restart, log back in and go into the Windows Phone Store. There you should see an entry named SD Card at the bottom of the list. Tap that link and on the next screen you’ll have a list of the apps that are on the card. Just select the ones you want and then tap Install.

Sideload Windows Phone Apps

One thing to note about this is that after installing the apps, the XAP files remain on the SD card. So if you’re low on space, you’ll need to connect your phone to your PC and manually delete them.

Delete XAP files

Personally I keep my most often used apps on the card just in case I need to reset the phone. I’m currently using a 32 GB micro-SD card, so there’s enough space for the important apps, sans any games as they are usually the largest.



  1. Maria

    November 17, 2013 at 1:37 am

    I followed all your steps, and my nokia lumia 520 still doesn’t see the SD card in store..please could you help me? I’ve been trying this for 1 week and no result..thank you!

  2. afshin

    December 4, 2013 at 8:53 am

    i did all but when downloading told you have low free space but i have memory card and i have changed setting on sd card please help me but till have same error

  3. rj

    December 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    can’t see the sd card option on my store also. help :)

  4. Brian Burgess

    December 31, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Hey guys, you should be able to see the card. Don’t forget the most important part of my article:

    “After the XAP files are copied to the SD card, unplug your phone and power it completely off and back on to restart.”

    Also, I’ve notices on my Lumia 520, after restarting the phone, it takes a couple of minutes for apps to show in the SD card.

    Hope this helps guys!

  5. Rock

    June 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I have follow the process but my HTC windows 8S could not find the apps I download inside the SD card. Always showing, We can’t coonect to the store at the moment. Check your data connection or try again later. Please I need help

  6. chintan agrawal

    June 23, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    I had followed whole process may time .IT shows SD card option but dosent search any app.please let me know if there any solution.

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