WhatsApp is stubborn about not installing to SD card. I have an unlocked bootloader, but have not rooted or installed a custom recovery yet. I am trying to avoid rooting because of SafetyNet, and because I need it pretty much only for force-moving WhatsApp (etc.) to an adopted SD card.

Since my bootloader is unlocked, is it not possible to:

  • boot into custom recovery without flashing it
  • create a flashable .zip containing WhatsApp
  • instruct the installer to locate it in adopted storage, ignoring the app's installLocation setting


Why is it said that we need root for force moving apps, when the bootloader being unlocked should be enough? I don't have a problem with flashing a custom recovery, just ... why flash when one-time boot should be sufficient?

Likely I'm missing some limitations of fastboot and the recovery here.

Edit: Trying out @DanHalli's answer gave me an error

P:\Software\Management\SmartPhone\apks>adb install -s WhatsApp.apk
3644 KB/s (38480037 bytes in 10.311s)
        pkg: /sdcard/tmp/WhatsApp.apk
  • I don't know your device and whether it has TWRP available. If so: one-time fastboot boot twrp.img, then flash Magisk – et voila: systemless root, passes safetynet (not by hearsay, I did that on one of my devices).
    – Izzy
    Nov 14, 2017 at 23:16
  • Thanks for trying my answer, that error usually occurs when there isn't enough storage on the device you're trying to install to, check how much storage is left on the SD card
    – DanHolli
    Nov 17, 2017 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


If you have the APK for WhatsApp on a computer and USB debugging on you can do

adb install -s path/to/APK

I might have my syntax wrong, if you have it already installed you might need to add a -r after the -s to have it reinstall, I've noticed it works kind of like a force install

  • Adoptable storage allows use of a specially formatted (partition on an) SD Card for use of apps on it : pocket-lint.com/news/…
    – Milind R
    Nov 15, 2017 at 9:31
  • Gave an error, check edit.
    – Milind R
    Nov 17, 2017 at 14:04
  • Sorry, thought it was obvious... I have 14GB+ free on my adopted partition and 14GB+ free on my portable partition.
    – Milind R
    Nov 17, 2017 at 14:31

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