Android 4.3 breaks SD card writing on the Galaxy S4 GPE, but here’s a fix

by: Rob TriggsAugust 12, 2013
9 19 77

samsung galaxy s4 google play edition aa lockscreen widgets

Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 owners should all be enjoying the latest version of Android by now. If there’s one little niggle with the GPE handsets, it’s that updates aren’t provided directly from Google, and that may be one reason to blame for the SD Card bug which has appeared after the latest Android 4.3 update.

Users have been reporting that apps are failing to write data to the handsets external storage card. The reason for this is that most apps haven’t been updated to work with a change in app group permissions related to writing to external storage. As this is a problem which really only affects this particular handset, I wouldn’t count on app developers fixing the issue themselves any time soon, and it could be a while before Samsung released a fix as well.

Fortunately, there is a temporary work around, but it involves messing around with a system file and you’ll have to have your handset rooted before you begin. If you’re in need of the fix, then follow the steps below.

Firstly, grab a file explorer app from the Play Store, like Root Explorer or ES File Explorer, so that you can access your system files. You’ll then need to locate the platform.xml file in the system/etc/permissions folder. Create a backup of the original file before you go any further, then either open this file up on your phone or copy it to your PC for editing.

Next up, scroll down until you find a row beginning name=”android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE” >, I believe this is the 71st line in the file. Once there, on a new line under ”<group gid=”sdcard_rw” />“, add <group gid=”media_rw” />, then save the file. Here’s a screenshot to show how the file should look after editing.


All done, now simply save the changes, or copy the file back to from your PC, and overwrite the original version. Reboot your phone and the fix will be applied.

It’s likely that this line was simply missed while Samsung was rushing to push Android 4.3 out the door. Hopefully, an official update to address this problem will arrive quickly, especially for those who don’t want to mess around with these sort of fixes.

  • tgold

    I am suffering from this issue and now have over 7GB of maps on my phone’s internal storage that I had wanted to place on the external SD card. I am unwilling to root my phone and ask who has the authority, the capability or the duty to amend the file platform.xml to include the missing line?

    • Andrew Hilburn

      Its a simple matter of rooting using CF Auto Root, then editing the platform.xml file as stated with root explorer. Once fixed, you may goto the super user file and completely and fully unroot the phone, should not take more than 10 mintues.

      • tgold

        Thanks Andrew and I will check that out.

        • Andrew Hilburn

          I am currently writing an updater script to flash in a custom recovery, possibly the stock 3e recovery. I will post link after some testing, that is if you are interested.

          • tgold

            I am too new to Android to even recognize the meaning or significance of a “recovery”. At this point I just want to add the necessary line into file platform.xml with as few collateral changes as possible. I am about to take a trip during which I must rely on my Galaxy for mail, news and navigation and so I am delaying the phone surgery until after that.

          • Barlog

            Just wondering if you ever created a update zip file for this?

          • Barlog

            I just wanted to ask you a if you ever wrote An updater script for this? I did this fix on my LG G Pad 8.3 GPE about 10 months ago and it worked great. But now out of the blue it stopped letting me write to the same SD card I’ve had in there the whole time. I haven’t removed the card or flashed Any Roms. I don’t know what happened? Any help would be appreciated Thanks

  • Laurent Maulin

    I now know what is left for me to do. Getting my self the new Nexus 5 i’m looking forward to test Android 5.0 !

    • Andrew Hilburn

      Have fun with not removable battery, and yet no expandable storage again.

  • name

    I have a galaxy 2 and have the same problem but when I opened the file it has the correct lines Any idea what to do?

    • tgold

      The problem discussed here is the loss of write access to external SD cards as the consequence of the removal of one line from an Android parameter file in the update to Android 4.3 that was delivered to the Google Play Edition of the Galaxy S4. In what way do you believe that you have the same problem?

  • Martin

    I have S3 (Rogers Canadian version) and upgraded from 4.1.1 to 4.3 OTA. I had the same writing/creating folder/files issue to external card as well.

    Problem solved (Don’t need to ROOT the device):
    Backed up the files to PC and reformat the external SD card using the phone (Don’t use PC format). It seems going from 4.1.1 to 4.3, lots of issues and incompatible stuffs. After formatted using 4.3 OS, copied the files back, creating folder/files works again on the external SD card. Hope this help those having same issues that I had.

    • tgold

      Whatever issue you had with your S3 and that was solved by reformatting your external card will not be related to the issue under
      discussion here and which is confined to the Android 4.3 that Google distributed directly to their S4 Google Play Edition phones.

  • dodo

    can not work boos. I’ve add a group gid = media_rw. I use a 64GB class 10 memory Kingstone. but if using a 16gb memory down to write and read. and not be able to save the photo to sdcard.

  • Barlog

    Just did this the other day on my LG G Pad 8.3 GPE and it worked great, thanks for this post

  • Mark

    Really a

  • Mark

    …ok, lets try again:
    Really appreciate the post…you saved me from having to reformat and re-install KitKat on my galaxy note 10.1 2014 edition. So yes, this works on more than just the phone…again, thanks!!

  • Travis Grynowicki

    Worked perfect on my T-Mobile Galaxy S5! thanks!

  • ChrisNow

    This is the reason why I rooted phone; my PlayerPro no more were updating ratings for songs ( end developer of PP was to lazy to try created designed folder on the card for the music) so after I added this line everything is working again like was before update 4.4.2 on my N900T

    • Tony

      I am still on rooted Andoid 4.3 with my S4GPE. Is there a simple method for rooting version 4.4 if I was to accept that upgrade? I need rooting because one daft app writer (TomTom) stores some important user data in /data/data/ and I need to be able to back that data up. Thanks.

  • noob

    This post is very dangerous, I did exactly what is described, and now all my apps are shutting down, cannot open titanium backup at all. I tried copying original platforms.xml and it does the same thing… how do i fix this?

  • Carlos

    These guys are fruitcakes. All you really want is to read your SD card, access your SD card again. I just went all over the NET and could not find a solution for this problem. Then, I just did this simple fix, and it worked for me on my Galaxy S4 Active: I inserted a new SD card, and it would not read it, mount it, etc. You know it. Then I read everywhere, that the standard Filesystem is NTFS, which did not work for me. I took another NTFS SD Card, and my G4 would not read it. So I copied the files off and reformatted the SD cards to (default) FAT32 (with the single file 4GB size restriction) So what? I’ll just put several 4 gig files on the card, no problem.
    After reformatting these SD Cards, the Galaxy4s would immediately read them, and gave me an option to reformat the 8Gig SD Card even, which I did. It came back with 7.4 Gigs, even more than the reformatting on the computer. This proves to me, that the Filesystem is FAT32 and not NTFS like some fruitcakes declared earlier. peace out.

  • evangeleet

    i had the same problem on my HTC ONE M8 GPE … thanks for taking the time to write this up.. its much appreciated

  • Petr Šraier

    The best way is to use Xposed with respective module:

  • Android 4.4.2

    Hard reset don’t fix my AllvIew VIVA H10HD!!!

  • John

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with “noob”, followed the directions exactly and my S4 is completely hozed. Said over and over that YouTube has stopped, and TitaniumBackup can’t start. Reverted to the original XML with same results. Both sdcard and extsdcard show as blank on the phone and on USB connected PC. Going to have to wipe and start again. Definitely dangerous and would not recommend.

  • FurtherThanYou

    This fix solved my titanium backup issues on a tronsmart vega s89-h (android tv box), allowing me to change my backup location to a usb drive. Thanks!