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How to Allow Apps To Write Files to USB Mass Storage Devices in Android

When you’ve got an Android media player or mini PC, you may want to connect an external USB drive and allow write access to this drive to some applications. However, this is disabled by default in Android, although file managers appear to allow copy/paste of files to those drives without issue. Some applications may even refuse to install if they can’t find writable SD card or USB mass storage  device. I’ve tried to install the latest version of aTorrent (version 1.7.6) in my Mele A1000, and it could not install at all and returned the message like:

Can’t install on SD card or USB device

The solution below is adapted from a solution on XDA Developers Forums. Some instructions tells you to use an app such as Root Explorer to edit the files in Android (ES File Manager will also do, after allowing “Up to Root” option), but I personally prefer to run Dropbear SSH server, connect via SSH and edit text files with vi. After login to the system via SSH or adb, remount the system partition in read/write mode:

Go to /system/etc/permissions/, make a backup of platform.xml and edit it:

Add a line with <group gid=”media_rw” /> to WRITE_EXTERNALS_STORAGE, so that the section looks like:

Save the file, and reboot your device.

After following these steps, I was able to complete the installation of aTorrent, and download some files via Bit Torrent to my USB drive (in /mnt/usbhost1).

  1. nklh
    August 27th, 2012 at 04:56 | #1

    thanks for the tips

  2. Andrea
    September 23rd, 2012 at 02:03 | #2


  3. jm
    November 18th, 2012 at 00:37 | #3

    Thanks, very useful. I make me remember the vi commands like
    “i” enter edit mode
    “:” quit edit mode
    “wq” write and quit vi

  4. Fabian
    December 19th, 2012 at 06:32 | #4

    Sadly, this didn’t work for me, the file has changed and I can check it after the reboot, the permissions are set correctly, but I still can’t write on my USB drive. 🙁

  5. December 19th, 2012 at 08:36 | #5

    I’ve tried this in Android 4.0. Are you using a different version of Android?

  6. arielle
    February 22nd, 2013 at 23:04 | #6

    hello, where can i find this “/system/etc/permissions.”?i dont know where it’s located.help please. 🙁

  7. February 23rd, 2013 at 09:19 | #7

    You need to connect to your device via adb, ssh or use Android Terminal Emulator (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jackpal.androidterm&hl=en) to access the command prompt in your device, or use an editor in Android.

  8. jeblister
    December 29th, 2013 at 06:42 | #8


    thanks a lot for the tips.

  9. umut
    April 10th, 2014 at 01:09 | #9

    Thank you. I used es file manager but editing media_rw permissions did the trick

  10. Nidhin Augustine
    September 2nd, 2014 at 12:49 | #10

    thanks bro

  11. bobbit
    November 18th, 2014 at 13:11 | #11

    worked a charm for my android tv box

  12. December 1st, 2014 at 20:34 | #12

    Looks like SD Kitkat Fixer app does the same thing -> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jrummy.sdfix

  13. gergo
    December 20th, 2014 at 21:28 | #13

    Not optimal, but works for me.
    Have searched long time for other solution until I found this simple solution.

  1. December 28th, 2012 at 17:41 | #1
  2. December 2nd, 2014 at 20:55 | #2
  3. July 6th, 2015 at 23:43 | #3