Mihai Fonoage is a mobile enthusiast, working with smartphone platforms such as iPad/iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Florida Atlantic University. He is currently the Director of Mobile Development at Modernizing Medicine. Mihai is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 13 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Displaying images from SD card in Android

  • submit to reddit
Below you will find a Android example of how to access and display images that are stored on your SD card.

I wrote part 2 for this article, where images are loaded in the background using an asynchronous task. It is an improvement over this article, but I strongly suggest trying this one first to fully appreciate the differences between the two approaches.

The main idea is to make use of the MediaStore class, which is a Media provider that contains data for all available media on both internal and external storage devices (such as an SD card). An adapter is used as a bridge between the data and the view.

The activity is shown below:
package blog.android.sdcard;

import android.app.Activity;
import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.database.Cursor;
import android.net.Uri;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.provider.MediaStore;
import android.view.Menu;
import android.view.MenuInflater;
import android.view.MenuItem;
import android.view.View;
import android.view.ViewGroup;
import android.widget.AdapterView;
import android.widget.BaseAdapter;
import android.widget.GridView;
import android.widget.ImageView;
import android.widget.AdapterView.OnItemClickListener;

 * Displays images from an SD card.
public class SDCardImagesActivity extends Activity {

     * Cursor used to access the results from querying for images on the SD card.
    private Cursor cursor;
     * Column index for the Thumbnails Image IDs.
    private int columnIndex;

    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

        // Set up an array of the Thumbnail Image ID column we want
        String[] projection = {MediaStore.Images.Thumbnails._ID};
        // Create the cursor pointing to the SDCard
        cursor = managedQuery( MediaStore.Images.Thumbnails.EXTERNAL_CONTENT_URI,
                projection, // Which columns to return
                null,       // Return all rows
        // Get the column index of the Thumbnails Image ID
        columnIndex = cursor.getColumnIndexOrThrow(MediaStore.Images.Thumbnails._ID);

        GridView sdcardImages = (GridView) findViewById(R.id.sdcard);
        sdcardImages.setAdapter(new ImageAdapter(this));

        // Set up a click listener
        sdcardImages.setOnItemClickListener(new OnItemClickListener() {
            public void onItemClick(AdapterView parent, View v, int position, long id) {
                // Get the data location of the image
                String[] projection = {MediaStore.Images.Media.DATA};
                cursor = managedQuery( MediaStore.Images.Media.EXTERNAL_CONTENT_URI,
                        projection, // Which columns to return
                        null,       // Return all rows
                columnIndex = cursor.getColumnIndexOrThrow(MediaStore.Images.Media.DATA);
                // Get image filename
                String imagePath = cursor.getString(columnIndex);
                // Use this path to do further processing, i.e. full screen display

     * Adapter for our image files.
    private class ImageAdapter extends BaseAdapter {

        private Context context;

        public ImageAdapter(Context localContext) {
            context = localContext;

        public int getCount() {
            return cursor.getCount();
        public Object getItem(int position) {
            return position;
        public long getItemId(int position) {
            return position;
        public View getView(int position, View convertView, ViewGroup parent) {
            ImageView picturesView;
            if (convertView == null) {
                picturesView = new ImageView(context);
                // Move cursor to current position
                // Get the current value for the requested column
                int imageID = cursor.getInt(columnIndex);
                // Set the content of the image based on the provided URI
                        MediaStore.Images.Thumbnails.EXTERNAL_CONTENT_URI, "" + imageID));
                picturesView.setPadding(8, 8, 8, 8);
                picturesView.setLayoutParams(new GridView.LayoutParams(100, 100));
            else {
                picturesView = (ImageView)convertView;
            return picturesView;
The layout of the main activity is shown below:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<GridView xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" 
In order for this to work, you need to emulate an SD card.


UPDATE: In order to be bale to view thumbnails images from the SD Card, Android needs to create them first, hence you should start the Gallery application that comes preinstalled, and open the sdcard folder which will automatically create thumbnails for the images stored on your sdcard. This is a current shortcoming of the SDK that will be fixed in future releases (http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers/browse_thread/thread/3f01b284e2537312/fa9487d19db4907e).

UPDATE: For some reason, if you use

like in the previous version of the above code, the images are not always displayed on the screen. Changing to
seems to solve the problem. I will look more into why and get back to you.
Furthermore, some images have the wrong path attached to them.  I changed the creation of the cursor object from
cursor = managedQuery( MediaStore.Images.Thumbnails.EXTERNAL_CONTENT_URI,
projection, // Which columns to return
null,       // Return all rows
cursor = managedQuery( MediaStore.Images.Thumbnails.EXTERNAL_CONTENT_URI,
projection, // Which columns to return
null,       // Return all rows
Published at DZone with permission of Mihai Fonoage, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Shoaib Almas replied on Sat, 2012/08/25 - 7:02am

I ve done all the necessary corrections on my code but still its not displaying the images... the code is unning and the emulator gets launched but shows only a blank page... please help me out in this code

Java Forum

Niamh O'connor replied on Thu, 2012/11/15 - 10:07am


This does work but isn't it bad to have the ImageAdapter class inside the SDCardImagesActivity?

Could you give an example of the ImageAdapter in its own class? I've tried it but having difficulty.



Sam Su replied on Tue, 2014/08/26 - 11:17pm

I tried it on my ulefone 5 inch  device powered by android 4.4, your solution works fine,get the photos from microSD card. Amazing idea.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.