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How to Fix SD Card that is Not Readable/Showing Up on Mac

How to Fix SD Card that is Not Readable/Showing Up on Mac

Encountering the error that your SD card is not readable on Mac can be disheartening, especially when the data contained within is of significant value. Fortunately, there are several methods to fix this issue and recover your data. Nevertheless, it’s important to handle the situation cautiously to avoid further damage. For those seeking the best SD card recovery software for Mac, there’s a range of SD card recovery tools waiting to be explored.


Common Scenarios:

Common Symptoms of an Unreadable SD Card on Mac 💻

  • The SD card does not appear on the desktop or in Finder.
  • A prompt appears stating the disk inserted was not readable by this computer.
  • The SD card is recognized by the system but no data can be accessed.
  • Error messages such as ‘The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer’ appear.

Usual Causes of SD Card Readability Issues 🚧

  • The SD card is physically damaged or corrupted.
  • File system incompatibility between the SD card and OS X/macOS.
  • Incorrect ejection of the SD card may have caused corruption.
  • The presence of bad sectors may interfere with readability.

Impact of an Unreadable SD Card on Users 🛑

  • Loss of valuable data and media is a risk when a SD card becomes unreadable.
  • Productivity may be compromised if the SD card contains work-related files.
  • Frustration mounts when access to personal or professional data is blocked.
  • The fear of costly data recovery services to restore lost files.


Step-by-Step Guide. Sd Card Not Readable Mac:

Method 1: Checking the Connection 📌

  • Ensure that your SD card is properly inserted into the card slot or card reader.
  • Try connecting the SD card with a different card reader or try it on another Mac to rule out connection issues.
  • Restart your Mac with the card inserted to refresh the system’s connection.

Note: Sometimes, the simplest solution is the most effective—never overlook basic troubleshooting.

Conclusion: If the SD card is still not readable, proceed to the next method.

Method 2: Using Disk Utility 🛠

  • Open Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities.
  • Select the unreadable SD card from the sidebar.
  • Click on ‘First Aid’ and then ‘Run’ to attempt repairing any issues.
  • If prompted, you can also try to ‘Repair Disk’ for further troubleshooting.

Note: Disk Utility can fix certain issues but is not a catch-all solution.

Conclusion: If Disk Utility fails to resolve the issue, additional measures may be needed.

Method 3: Checking Finder Preferences ⚙

  • Open Finder and navigate to Preferences from the Finder menu.
  • Under the ‘General’ tab, check if the ‘External disks’ option is ticked to ensure that the SD card will show up on the desktop.
  • Additionally, in the ‘Sidebar’ tab, ensure ‘External disks’ under ‘Locations’ is checked to show in the Finder sidebar.

Note: Finder settings can sometimes revert or change, hiding the SD card from view.

Conclusion: If these settings were already correct, the issue may be more complex than a simple visibility problem.

Method 4: Resetting the NVRAM/PRAM 🔄

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Power it on and immediately press and hold the Option, Command, P, and R keys simultaneously.
  • Release the keys after about 20 seconds or after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

Note: This process will reset certain settings including sound volume and display resolution.

Conclusion: If the reset doesn’t fix the issue, your SD card might require a different approach.

Method 5: Updating macOS 🔍

  • Click on the Apple menu and select ‘About This Mac’.
  • Go to the ‘Software Update’ section and check for any available updates.
  • Install any updates to ensure your system is running the latest version, which may contain fixes for external drive compatibility.

Note: Always backup your system before performing an update.

Conclusion: If an update does not solve the issue, further steps will be necessary.

Method 6: Checking for Physical Damage 🔎

  • Inspect the SD card for any visible signs of damage like cracks or broken contacts.
  • If damage is observed, consider using professional data recovery services to retrieve your data.
  • Avoid handling the SD card excessively, as this may exacerbate any existing damage.

Note: Physical damage often requires professional intervention and is not usually fixable at home.

Conclusion: If no physical damage is found, the problem might be with software, file system, or other non-visible issues.

Method 7: Using Terminal Commands 🖥

  • Launch Terminal from Applications > Utilities or search via Spotlight.
  • Enter diskutil list to display all connected disks and find the identifier for your SD card.
  • Use the command diskutil verifyDisk diskX, replacing ‘diskX’ with your SD card’s identifier, to check the disk’s integrity.
  • If issues are reported, try diskutil repairDisk diskX or consider reformatting the SD card for a fresh start if data recovery is not a concern.

Note: Be cautious when using Terminal commands, as incorrect usage can lead to data loss.

Conclusion: Command-line tools can be powerful, but they require a cautious approach.

Method 8: Trying Recovery Mode ⚒

  • Restart your Mac and hold down Command + R to boot into Recovery Mode.
  • Once in Recovery Mode, open Disk Utility to try and mount or repair the SD card as you would under normal operation.
  • If Disk Utility still can’t fix the card, consider reinstalling macOS, if necessary, to eliminate any system factors contributing to the issue.

Note: Recovery mode can resolve issues that are tied to system corruption or problematic configurations.

Conclusion: If Recovery Mode doesn’t help, the issue may be beyond what can be fixed through Mac’s built-in resources.


Youtube video to watch


Precautions and Tips:

Protecting Your SD Card Data 🛡

  • Regularly backup your SD card’s data to avoid loss in case of corruption or failure.
  • Eject your SD card safely by dragging it to the Trash, which turns into an Eject icon, before physically removing it.
  • Use disk encryption software for sensitive information to ensure security in case of physical loss.
  • Keep your SD card in a protective case when not in use to prevent physical damage from drops or spills.

Maintaining Card Health 🩺

  • Avoid exposing your SD card to extreme temperatures or magnetic fields.
  • Format your SD card in the device you primarily use it with for optimal compatibility.
  • Occasionally run Disk Utility‘s First Aid on your SD card to catch and fix errors early on.
  • If you use the SD card with multiple devices, ensure it is safely ejected and properly reformatted for cross-platform use.


Additional Resources for SD Card Maintenance

Maintaining your SD cards can go a long way in preventing the ‘SD card is not readable on Mac’ error. There are additional resources and practices that users should be aware of to ensure the longevity of their external storage. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the proper handling and care for these devices. For more detailed guidance, consider consulting the official Apple Support page or the SD Association’s website to understand technical standards and practices.

To prevent potential data loss scenarios, investing in reliable backup and synchronization software is a smart decision. Cloud storage solutions like iCloud or Dropbox offer seamless integration with macOS, providing a safety net for your important files. Having an external hard drive or Time Machine setup can also save you from unexpected data mishaps.


Encountering an unreadable SD card on your Mac is an issue that can lead to panic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a disaster. The steps mentioned above should provide a comprehensive guide to troubleshoot and resolve common problems with SD card accessibility. Some issues can be quickly fixed with simple solutions, while others might require more technical approaches or even professional assistance.

It’s always beneficial to stay proactive about data protection and SD card maintenance to mitigate the risk of encountering these issues in the first place. Moreover, maintaining a habit of backing up data regularly and knowing when to seek professional help will ensure that your data remains safe and accessible in most situations.


It may be due to a faulty SD card reader, the SD card being improperly formatted, or the card having compatibility issues with macOS.

Start by checking the SD card on another device to confirm it's working, and ensure your Mac's card reader is clean and undamaged.

Yes, if the card is recognized in Disk Utility, you can try reformatting it to a compatible file system like exFAT or MS-DOS (FAT).

Insert a different, known-good SD card to see if it’s readable. If not, the slot itself may be the issue.

It's possible; make sure your macOS is up to date as updates can resolve peripheral device compatibility problems.

Yes, Apple offers support articles with troubleshooting steps for issues with external devices like SD cards.

Some third-party adapters may not be fully compatible with Macs; try using a different adapter or a direct SD card slot if available.

Consider Data recovery services or software, though be mindful to choose reputable sources or check out Data Recovery for professional assistance.

Yes, file system errors or corruption can make an SD card unreadable. Use Disk Utility's First Aid to check and repair the card.

Yes, exFAT and MS-DOS (FAT) are universally compatible formats that work well with both Macs and other operating systems.