Fix/recover unreadable SD cards on Mac without data loss

By Juno | Posted to Mac Data Recovery, Updated on August 12, 2019 |

Summary: Was the SD card you inserted not readable by the Mac? This post will offer you solutions to fix the Mac not reading the SD card issue without or without formatting. Before formatting the SD card to make it readable again, you can recover data from it with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery to avoid data loss.

Table of contents
1. How does an SD card get unreadable?
2. How to repair an unreadable SD card on Mac without formatting?
4. How to format an unreadable SD card?
5. Effective tips to prevent SD cards from being corrupted

Overview of the SD card not readable on Mac

When you connected an SD memory card to Mac, the error message "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer" popped up, leaving you three options " Initialize", "Ignore" and "Eject". Then you knew that you encountered the SD card not readable by this computer issue.

The disk you inserted is not readable by this computer on Mac

In this situation, you might see the SD card in Disk Utility but can't mount the SD card in the Finder nor access the files on the SD card. However, formatting the SD card is not the only option to make your SD card readable again. This post will explain how an SD card gets unreadable and how to fix the Mac not reading the SD card without data loss.

How does an SD card get unreadable?

Unreadable SD memory cards result from various causes, from hardware problems to inner logic corruptions. We list some most common causes for unreadable SD cards on Mac:

  • Corrupted partition table. A partition table on an SD memory card contains the information about the beginning and the end of a partition. When a partition table is corrupted, the operating system can't locate the partition and can't read the data in a certain partition either.
  • Corrupted file system. A file system contains the location, size, name and other fundamental information of files. When the file system is corrupted, the logic for the Mac operating system to follow is damaged so that the Mac operating system is unable to recognize this SD card.
  • Virus and malware infection. Some aggressive virus and malware can attack the data on your SD memory card, making partition table, file system and real data corrupted or lost.
  • Human error. A lot of times, people remove the SD card from the slot or card reader without ejecting it safely first but by pulling it out violently. This operation will even cause physical damage to the SD card.

There are many other causes that might lead to an unreadable SD card such as an out-of-date disk driver, encrypted SD card and more. No matter what has made your standard SD cards, miniSD cards or microSD cards unreadable, it is urgent to fix the unreadable SD card and get back data from it.

Read ahead to know how to fix the unreadable SD memory card.

How to repair an unreadable SD card on Mac without formatting?

Not many people like to format their external drives unless they have to, so as you. If you are looking for solutions for repairing the unreadable SD card without formatting, you will learn 5 methods in this section. We will walk you through the solutions one by one.

Fix 1: Try a different SD card reader or slot

A damaged SD card reader or slot can make the SD card not recognizable nor readable. At times, simply changing a card reader or slot can solve the problem.

Try a different SD card reader or slot

If the solution doesn't work, move forward to the next one.

Fix 2: Connect the SD card to another device

Now you need to check if it is the problem of the memory card or your Mac computer.

Step 1: Disconnect the SD card from Mac.

Step 2: Connect the SD card to another device, i.e. a Mac or a camera.

If it is readable on another device, then your Mac may have some encryption or driver-related issue with the SD card. On the other hand, if your SD memory card still doesn't work right on another device, then it is corrupted very possibly.

Check the next method to see how to make the SD card readable on your Mac by updating the disk driver.

Fix 3: Update disk driver

A disk driver is a group of files that enable the disk to communicate with the operating system. Therefore, if the driver is too old on a Mac, the macOS can't send nor receive data correctly to the up-to-date memory card.

Here is how to update the disk driver on Mac:

Step 1: Click on the Apple icon at the top menu bar and select "System Preferences…".

Step 2: Choose "Software Updates".

Step 3: Click on "Update Now " or "Update All" if you have multiple updates.

After having updated the disk driver, your SD card should be readable now. If this doesn't solve the SD card not readable by MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro or Mac mini problem, it might be because the SD card is encrypted. Check the next solution.

Fix 4: Check if the SD card is encrypted

This solution will tell you how to check whether the SD card is encrypted and solve the unreadable SD card problem on Mac. If your memory card is protected by third-party encryption software or non-Mac native encryption programs, then it can't be recognized on Mac. For example, if your memory card is encrypted by BitLocker, an encryption program developed by Microsoft and not supported by macOS, it will appear unreadable on Mac. Therefore, you will need to decrypt the SD card first using the according decryption software. Then reconnect the SD card to the Mac and your SD card should be readable on Mac.

Fix 5: Run First Aid to repair the unreadable SD card

If the methods above fail to fix the SD memory card that is not readable on Mac, the SD card may have some file system errors. Luckily, macOS has a built-in utility called First Aid to check disk error and repair the corrupted file system.

Here is how to repair a non-readable SD card using First Aid in Disk Utility:

Step 1: Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

Step 2: After launching Disk Utility, choose "View" from the upper right menu bar. From the drop-down menu, select "Show All Devices".

Repair unreadable SD cards with First Aid

Step 3: Choose the unreadable SD card at the left sidebar and click on "First Aid".

Step 4: Click "Run". This will start the verification and repair process.

Repair unreadable SD card with First Aid

If Disk Utility reports that the disk appears to be OK or has been repaired, you're done. You can click "Done" to exit and then you can use your SD card as usual.

However, First Aid can only fix minor file system issues. If the First Aid fails to repair the disk, the SD card has been corrupted seriously. Fixing the unreadable SD card by formatting could be your last option.

How to format an unreadable SD card?

Before you format your SD card, you should note that formatting a disk will write in new file system on the disk and make your disk appear blank.

If you don't have any important files on it, go ahead to format it. But if you do have important data that you don't want to lose, remember to recover data from the non-readable SD card.

Follow the steps to format the SD card in Disk Utility on Mac:

Step 1: Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

Step 2: Click on the unreadable SD card at the left sidebar.

Step 3: Check Click "Erase" on the top of the Disk Utility window.

how to format a disk in Disk Utility on Mac

Step 4: Input a name.

how to format a disk in Disk Utility on Mac

Step 5: Choose FAT or exFAT as format for convenience because either of them is compatible with both Windows and macOS.

how to format a disk in Disk Utility on Mac

Step 6: Choose "GUID Partition Map" as Scheme.

how to format a disk in Disk Utility on Mac

Step 7: Click on "Erase" button.

how to format a disk in Disk Utility on Mac

After the formatting process completes, you just reconnect the SD card to the Mac and it should be readable by now.

If the SD card can't be formatted, it means the card has been physically damaged. Unfortunately, there is no software can help you fix any hardware problem of an SD card. You can only send it to a local repair shop or replace it with a new one.

Recover data from an unreadable SD card on Mac with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is one of the best free SD memory card data recovery software for Mac. It can recover data from standard SD cards (SDSC, SDHC, SDXC, SDIO and SDUC), miniSD cards (miniSDHC, miniSDIO) and microSD cards (microSDHC, microSDXC and microSDUC). It is able to recover photos, videos, audio, music, documents, email files and other files from SD cards. Additionally, It is capable of recovering deleted or lost data from unreadable/formatted/unmountable SD memory cards on Mac. This software supports SD card data recovery on MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro and Mac mini running macOS 10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7

Free SD Card Data Recovery Software - iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

  • Recover photos, videos, music, documents, audio, email files, etc.
  • Recover data from standard SD cards, miniSD cards and microSD cards
  • Recover data from unreadable/corrupted/formatted/unmountable SD cards
  • Support APFS, HFS, HFS+, exFAT and FAT32 formatted SD cards' data recovery
  • Supported Mac OS: macOS 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

Read-only & risk-free

Tutorial to recover data from unreadable SD cards on Mac with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery:

Step 1: Download and launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

Step 2: Select the unreadable SD card.

Recover data from unreadable SD card on Mac

Step 3: Check the "Deep scan" option at the button.

Step 4: Click "Next" to scan lost data on it.

Step 5: Preview the scanning results by double-clicking the file.

Step 6: Select the file you want to recover and click "Recover" button.

Recover data from unreadable SD card on Mac

If you are a video tutorial lover, we have a video to teach you how to perform SD card data recovery:

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is far more than an SD card data recovery program, it is also able to recover deleted or lost files from internal hard drives, USB flash drives, memory sticks and external hard drives. It is safe to use because it will never write to your drive during the recovery process.

Effective tips to prevent SD memory cards from being corrupted

What is an SD card?

An SD card or a Security Digital card, is a type of removable flash memory cards used for storing documents, media and other files. According to the physical sizes, SD cards include standard SD cards (32 mm X 24 mm), miniSD cards (21.5 mm X 20 mm) and microSD cards (15 mm X 11 mm). The capacity of an SD card ranges from 1MB to 128 TB by now.

It is designed to provide high-capacity storage in a small size and can be added in many small portable devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, audio players, digital video camcorders, tablets, etc. It has been the most popular and efficient way to expand the storage space of a device.

Effective tips to prevent SD cards from being corrupted

It is very convenient to use an SD card as extra memory storage, but SD cards are prone to be corrupted. We list some nice tips for you to prevent corrupted SD cards.

  1. Shut down the device completely when you take the SD card out.
  2. Don't use SD cards when devices' battery is low.
  3. Leave some free space on SD cards.
  4. Use high-quality card readers.
  5. Safely eject SD cards on computer.
  6. Remove SD cards before the computer turns off or restarts.
  7. handle SD cards carefully to avoid physical damage.

When you encounter the Mac not reading the SD card issue, do not click on "Initialize" button to format the SD card. Try the methods in this post to fix the unreadable SD card. If all fixes fail and you have to format the SD card to make it readable again, you had better recover data from it first with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery to avoid data loss.

Juno

Juno is a technical expert @iBoysoft. She has over 5-year experience in data recovery/repair technology. She loves to write data recovery tips and tutorials.

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