Samsung Android 11 - Can't Browse to MicroSD Card

After installing the Android 11 update for my Samsung Note 20 Ultra (what Samsung calls One UI 3.0), I can no longer browse to the microSD card within Retroarch when pointing towards files. I’m using the most up-to-date version of the application available on the Google Play Store.

I had no issues pointing to the microSD card before the update to Android 11, which only went live about a week or so ago for this Samsung device. Afterwards though, I can’t navigate within Retroarch to any files on the microSD, much less see it in the folder structure. However, ROMs that I’d already pointed Retroarch to, it can still run without any issue. I can also still browse my microSD card with Samsung-made apps without any problems. I thought it might be a permissions thing or something with the switch to Android 11, but checking the application permissions, it shows it still is allowed to fully access the microSD card.


So I had the same issue with Dolphin as I did with Retroarch. I posted basically this same message to their forum, but for Dolphin specifically, and was told it was a known issue to them, and happened specifically on Samsung phones from the Android 11 update. They’d already fixed the issue, but just not on the build on the Play Store.

So, sounds to me like it is a repeatable issue, and fixable as well. I’m assuming the story will be more or less the same for Retroarch? Here’s a link to their bug report regarding the issue:

Unfortunately, we probably can’t reproduce their success because it happens in java code, which RetroArch uses almost none of.

I’ve had the same problem since updating my S20, on Retroarch and on Nostalgia.NES. I haven’t been able to figure out a work around, unfortunately.

Same Problem here on a Xiaomi RN8 phone with android 11

Same issue here with S20 FE. hunterk, are you saying that Retroarch will never again be able to access SD cards on Samsung Phones?

AFAIK, the only thing we can do about is implement Storage Access Framework, which is a big problem for a variety of reasons.

Unfortunately, RetroArch does very little through Android’s Java interface, and it’s not supposed to need to. However, Google has increasingly used these Java-based changes to control the ecosystem by not exposing them to programs that run natively.

Someone in discord who is running Android 11 claims it suddenly started working for him after fiddling with various things, but he didn’t know what he did or what changed to allow it /shrug

Smart Audiobook Player was similarly affected on my phone, but somehow started working again after some fiddling (as with the person on Discord, I have no idea what fix it). Citra is also unable to access the SD card. Some other programs can still access the SD card without issue (e.g. Musicolet and FullReader).

I don’t see an update but I found this developers explain why you can’t access files through apps. Another site stated they wont fix the access issues till early 2021 but it’s already nearing mid 2021.

I just starting having this issue as well. Let me know how I can help.

I’m having the same problem with my Samsung tab s5e. I wish now that I had not upgraded to Android 11. Hoping to hear something soon about a fix retroarch. I’m using the 64-bit file downloaded from retroarch, and it still isn’t working. Have had to put all of my ROMs back into internal storage because retroarch can’t find them on my external SD card. This is a real problem for larger files like Dreamcast and PlayStation Portable. I was actually running out of memory internally. Had only 64 gigabytes to start with. Now I’ve been forced to use standalone Redream and PPSSPP. Such a shame that something like this takes so long to get it working right!