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How to fix “Chrome needs storage access” error on Android

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Downloading files on Chrome for Android should be a walk in the park. Just grant the Storage permission, select the default folder, and get what you need. It seems that it’s not all that easy for some users who reported constant prompts that Chrome needs storage access whenever they try to download something.

How do I give Chrome storage access?

You can easily give storage access to Chrome from Settings > Apps > Chrome > Permissions. However, it seems that we are looking at the bug so, in case the first step below doesn’t help, continue through the list to resolve the problem.

1. Grant Storage permission to Chrome

Let’s start with the obvious solution. Google Chrome will, of course, ask for Storage permission to download and store files locally. Now, we understand that Storage permission is already granted, but it won’t cost you anything to check it out again.

Here’s how to give Chrome storage access (permission to store and access files locally):

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Choose Apps.
  3. Select All apps, App Manager, or Manage apps.
  4. Open Chrome.
  5. Select Permissions.
  6. Grant Storage permission to chrome grant storage permission
  7. If there are additional permissions including storage, make sure to grant them to Chrome, too.

2. Clear Chrome’s cache and data

Moving on. If the issue persists and Chrome is repeatedly asking for the storage access you already granted, we suggest clearing the app’s cache and data. This way, you’ll reset the app and, hopefully, resolve the issue at hand.

Follow these steps to clear cache and data from Chrome:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Open Apps or Application Manager.
  3. Tap Chrome.
  4. Open Storage.
  5. Tap Manage Space.
  6. Clear Data and chrome clear cache and data
  7. Reboot your device.

3. Reinstall Chrome

You can also try and reinstall Chrome for Android. That way you’ll get the latest version of the app. Some users who reported this error were on the Beta Android version so the problem might be in the discrepancy between the OS and Chrome version that’s, at the moment, unoptimized.

First of all, make sure that you are not on the Beta version of Android or, if you are, consider using an alternative browser.

Here’s how to reinstall Chrome via the Play Store:

  1. Open Play Store.
  2. Search for and expand Google Chrome.
  3. Uninstall Google Chrome (this will uninstall updates if Chrome is a system app).
  4. Update or reinstall chrome play store uninstall

4. Check storage space and change the download folder

Of course, you need enough storage space to download and store files locally. Make sure to have enough space first and then you can also try to change the download folder. The folder is usually stuck in the Android > Data root, but you can try and change it for the SD card for the sake of troubleshooting.

Here’s how to change the Download folder for Google Chrome on Android:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Tap on the 3-dot menu and open Settings.
  3. Scroll down and open Downloads.
  4. Tap on the Download location and select external storage.
  5. Give it a go and then switch back to internal storage and try downloading files again.

Alternatively, open File Manager (any file manager should do) and navigate to Internal Storage > Android > data > > files and delete the Download folder. Try downloading files again.

5. Inspect your SD card

Now, even if you already allowed Chrome to access your Storage, due to certain permission limitations, this doesn’t always apply to external storage. For that, you might need to change secondary permissions or allow access to SD once prompted.

The secondary permissions are available only on Android 10. Android 9 Pie will just ask for permission once you try to download files to the SD card.

Of course, make sure that your SD card is mounted and in working order. If not, you can format it and give it another try. Just don’t forget to back up your files before erasing the contents of the external storage.

6. Update the firmware

We already mentioned the discrepancy between Chrome and the OS. To avoid issues with both pre-installed apps (most Google apps come pre-installed) or third-party apps, we suggest keeping your system up to date.

So, make sure to download and install Android updates, if available. That should address the issue with the Chrome needs storage access error.

7. Rollback to an older version of Chrome

Finally, you can roll back Chrome by installing an older version of it via an APK. As you are probably aware, the Play Store offers only the latest public (or Beta) versions of a certain app.

To get an older version of an app, you’ll need to uninstall the current version and then download and install an APK. Android Package Kit file which is the default format of Android apps.

Follow these instructions to download and install an older version of Chrome:

  1. Uninstall Google Chrome.
  2. Navigate to APK Mirror or any other APK hub online.
  3. Download an older APK version but not older than two months.
  4. Grant permission to install apps from untrusted sources.
  5. Install the APK and give it a go.

You can, of course, if Chrome needs storage access error occurs again, reset your device to factory settings. Although, we are not sure the problem is worth the hassle.

With that said, we can call it a wrap. Thank you for reading and make sure to share your questions or alternative solutions in the comments section below.

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in January 2020. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.

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Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Managing editor at Mobile Internist. @lemmingspain My fascination with mobile technology, particularly Android and iOS, began years ago and continues today. I'm captivated by the constant evolution in the smartphone industry and its impact on our daily lives, always anticipating the next big innovation. That’s the main reason why I found myself writing instructive content on the subject for users who are not as familiar with all the bells and whistles.
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