Copy or Move File From One Directory to Another on Android

Today we are going to take a look at how to programmatically “copy” or “move” a file from one directory to another on Android. In case you want to be clarified about the difference, copying a file means the file will be seen on another directory (target location) without deleting the original file from the source location. Moving a file means the file will be seen in another directory and the original file will be deleted from its former location.

Logcat output when we successfuly copied a file. Click to enlarge.
Logcat output when we successfuly copied a file. Click to enlarge.

Here are some situations where I found these functionalities helpful:

  • Copying a file to another directory is useful when you have to save a file’s version or state in specific time.
  • Moving a file to another directory can be an advantage when you want to remove a file from a main folder of your application and make it an archive.

Download Code

Before running this code, you have to:

  • Place an example text file named “sample.txt” (with any text inside) in your SD card root.
  • Create a directory called “MyNewFolder” in your SD card root directory also.


package com.example.copyfilefromdirectorytoanother;


import android.os.Bundle;
import android.os.Environment;
import android.util.Log;

public class MainActivity extends Activity {

    private static final String TAG = "";
    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

        // your sd card
        String sdCard = Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().toString();
        // the file to be moved or copied
        File sourceLocation = new File (sdCard + "/sample.txt");
        // make sure your target location folder exists!
        File targetLocation = new File (sdCard + "/MyNewFolder/sample.txt");

        // just to take note of the location sources
        Log.v(TAG, "sourceLocation: " + sourceLocation);
        Log.v(TAG, "targetLocation: " + targetLocation);
        try {
            // 1 = move the file, 2 = copy the file
            int actionChoice = 2;
            // moving the file to another directory
                    Log.v(TAG, "Move file successful.");
                    Log.v(TAG, "Move file failed.");
            // we will copy the file
                // make sure the target file exists
                    InputStream in = new FileInputStream(sourceLocation);
                    OutputStream out = new FileOutputStream(targetLocation);
                    // Copy the bits from instream to outstream
                    byte[] buf = new byte[1024];
                    int len;
                    while ((len = > 0) {
                        out.write(buf, 0, len);
                    Log.v(TAG, "Copy file successful.");
                    Log.v(TAG, "Copy file failed. Source file missing.");
        } catch (NullPointerException e) {
        } catch (Exception e) {

Logcat ouput when we move a file looks like this:

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Logcat output when copying a file failed:

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Thanks for reading this Copy or Move File From One Directory to Another on Android!


13 responses to “Copy or Move File From One Directory to Another on Android”

  1. Is renameTo() the best method? I found someone use the java.nio.file class, but it cannot be imported in Android.

  2. what happens if we already have a file in the target location with the same name, it will prompt us to overwrite it, or our app will crash?…

    also, how to proceed to copy from internal storage (/data/data/com.example/shared_prefs/test.txt) to sdcard (/downloads/test.txt) and viceversa from sdcard to internal storage.

    I want to import/export my favorites but i’m very beginner and a help would be appreciated.Thanks in advance.

    • Hello @ciupercomania:disqus , I believe it will overwrite it. The best way to know is to do some testing. Copy from storage and vice versa can be done, you just have to specify the correct source and target locations.

  3. Thank you so much, it was a great help. BTW can you also tell me how can I change the extension of the file while writing it to the target location?

  4. hi mike would u pls help me in cart shop function espicially in adding and updating quantity..i would be very greatful if u did..just give me the source code for adding and updating quantity thats all what i want bro bcoz i hv presentation tmmorow morning..thx

  5. Hi Mike. I copied an image “a.png” in my sdCard folder. I used the code you mentioned. However it is not doing anything. I checked the manifest and added write permission as well. Could you suggest me something?

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