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How to Recover Deleted Files from an SD Card on Mac

How to Recover Deleted Files from an SD Card on Mac

Welcome to the guide on how to recover deleted files from an SD card for free using a MacBook. In the digital age, data loss can be a distressing event, especially when it involves precious memories or critical work documents. Fortunately, SD card data recovery is possible, and in this article, I will share personal experiences and steps to reclaim your lost files. Whether caused by accidental deletion, corruption, or formatting, these methods can help you restore your data without incurring costs.


Common Scenarios:

Frequently Faced Deletion Mishaps 🚨

  • Accidentally deleting files when trying to free up space on the SD card.
  • Unintentional formatting of the SD card, leading to a fresh start without the previous data.
  • Files becoming corrupted due to improper ejection or power surges.

Unexpected Data Catastrophes 🌪

  • Damage to the SD card’s file structure because of a virus or malware attack.
  • SD card becoming inaccessible due to physical damage or wear and tear.
  • Loss of data after an SD card is used in multiple devices leading to file system conflicts.

Surprising Tech Glitches 😱

  • Technical errors during file transfer that result in incomplete or missing files.
  • Software updates or crashes that disrupt access to existing files on the SD card.
  • SD card becoming unreadable by the computer due to driver issues or compatibility problems.


Step-by-Step Guide. Recover Sd Card Mac:

Method 1: Check the Trash Bin 🗑

  • Immediately stop using the SD card to prevent overwriting any recoverable files.
  • Connect the SD card to your MacBook using an SD card reader.
  • Open the Trash Bin on your MacBook to look for the deleted files.
  • If found, right-click on the file and select ‘Put Back’ to restore it to its original location.

Note: Files deleted from an external SD card do not typically appear in the Mac’s Trash Bin, but it’s worth checking in case of recently deleted files from the SD card while it’s connected to the computer.

Conclusion: The Trash Bin method is quick and easy but only works if the files were deleted while the SD card was connected to the MacBook.

Method 2: Use Time Machine Backup ⏰

  • Connect the SD card and an external drive containing your Time Machine backups.
  • Open Time Machine by clicking on the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and choose ‘Enter Time Machine’.
  • Navigate to the date and time before the files were deleted.
  • Select the files you want to recover and press ‘Restore’.

Note: This method works if you regularly back up your SD card using Time Machine.

Conclusion: Time Machine is a powerful in-built backup feature on MacBooks that can restore your deleted files if you have a pre-existing backup.

Method 3: Utilize Terminal Commands 🔍

  • Connect the SD card to your MacBook.
  • Launch Terminal from the Utilities folder or through Spotlight search.
  • Type the command ‘cd .Trash‘ and hit Enter to navigate to the Trash directory.
  • Type ‘ls -al‘ to list all files, including hidden ones.
  • If you recognize the name of your deleted file, use the command ‘mv filename ../‘ to move it out of the Trash.

Note: Be cautious with Terminal commands as they can affect system files if used incorrectly.

Conclusion: Terminal commands offer a robust way to manage files but should be used by those familiar with command line operations.

Method 4: Engage Data Recovery Software 🧑

  • Download and install a reputable data recovery software such as PhotoRec or Disk Drill.
  • Launch the software and select the SD card as the target for data recovery.
  • Follow the software’s instructions to scan the SD card for recoverable files.
  • Select the files you wish to recover and save them to a new location on your MacBook, not on the SD card itself.

Note: It’s crucial to recover the files to a different location to avoid potential data overwriting.

Conclusion: Data recovery software is highly effective but can be complex for those who are not tech-savvy.

Method 5: Seek Help from Disk Utility 🛠

  • Connect the SD card to your MacBook.
  • Open Disk Utility from the Applications -> Utilities folder.
  • Select the SD card and click on the ‘First Aid’ button.
  • Follow the prompts to repair any file system errors on the SD card that may be causing files to appear deleted.

Note: While Disk Utility can resolve some file system issues, it cannot recover files already physically deleted from the SD card.

Conclusion: Disk Utility is a helpful tool for fixing file system errors but is not a standalone recovery solution.


Youtube video to watch


Precautions and Tips:

Maximize Your Recovery Chances ✨

  • Avoid overwriting data by not using the SD card after you realize files have been deleted.
  • Try multiple recovery methods as one may be more effective than another for your particular situation.
  • Consider creating regular backups of your SD card to easily recover files in the future.

Maintaining SD Card Health 🏥

  • Regularly format your SD card in the device you primarily use it with, to prevent file system conflicts.
  • Always safely eject the SD card from your MacBook before removing it physically.
  • Store the SD card in a dry, cool place to prevent physical damage from environmental factors.


Additional Recovery Insights

When it comes to recovering deleted files from an SD card, there are several other considerations you might want to take into account beyond the immediate recovery steps. Understanding the underlying technology behind SD cards and file systems can further enhance your data recovery efforts. For example, knowing the difference between FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS file systems can help you determine the best format for your use case, especially when switching between macOS and Windows environments.


In conclusion, while losing files from an SD card can be frustrating, I’ve found that with persistence and the right tools, recovery is often possible. The methods I’ve shared are based on personal experiences and can be performed without the need for spending money on professional services. Always remember to stay calm, analyze each situation, and methodically attempt each step for the best chance of recovery. Remember, with the right knowledge and approach, you can often bring back what was thought to be lost forever.


Initiate by connecting the SD card to your Mac using a card reader. Verify if the Mac recognizes the card in Disk Utility.

Yes, if the files were recently deleted and are in the Trash Bin, you can restore them directly from there without additional software.

Mac OS doesn’t have a built-in tool for advanced data recovery, but you can sometimes restore previous versions of files using Time Machine.

Notable choices include Disk Drill and EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for their functionality and user-friendly interfaces.

Different file systems may require specific recovery methods. Software must support HFS+, FAT32, or exFAT, the common file systems used in SD cards on Mac.

Try checking the connection or use a different card reader. If it's still unrecognized, the SD card may be physically damaged and professional services might be needed.

Many data recovery tools can attempt to recover corrupted files, but success may vary based on the extent of the damage to the file.

Yes, as long as new data hasn't overwritten the deleted files, recovery software can often restore files from a formatted SD card.

If your SD card is physically damaged, it's best to consult a professional data recovery service as DIY methods might cause further harm.

To prevent data loss, regularly back up your data, properly eject the SD card before removal, and avoid exposing the card to extreme conditions.