How to fix SD card not mounting on Mac?

By Katrina | Posted to Mac Data Recovery, updated on May 9th, 2020 |

Summary: Have you encountered the SD card not mounting issue on macOS Catalina/Mojave/High Sierra? If the answer is "Yes", this passage is written for you. This post will show you 8 feasible solutions to mount SD cards on Mac again. In addition, you can also learn about how to recover lost data when SD card won't mount on Mac.

SD cards are tiny storage drives designed to store photos and videos from digital cameras and other portable devices. In general, once you connect an SD card with a USB adapter or an SD card reader on Mac, the SD card should be detected and then mounted by your Mac. Then on your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or iMac, you are allowed to access the SD card and transfer files from it.

However, sometimes, you may find the SD card not mounting on Mac when checking it in Disk Utility. Here is a real example from a forum:

Hello everyone! I'm having some issues mounting an SD card on my 2016 MacBook Pro via a USB-C SD Card reader. The problem is that the card does not mount at all, not in Finder nor on the Desktop. I can't mount the SD card in Disk Utility either. So I'm reaching out to see if any of you might have an idea of how to fix this.

Have you ever experience the above-mentioned scenario? Where is the problem? Why does this issue happen? How to fix it? Just keep reading.

Solution 1: Test SD card on another Mac or with a new card reader

Whenever you meet SD memory card problems, the first thing you should check is whether the SD card has a connection issue. You can change a new SD card reader or USB adapter. If the card works well, then it's the faulty SD card reader or USB adapter that stops your SD card from mounting. While if the SD card won't work on another computer or the new SD card reader/USB adapter, there is something wrong with your SD card.

Solution 2: Restart your Mac computer

If you encounter a problem with your computer or connected disks, an IT folk always asks "Have you tried rebooting your Mac computer?" Why? Because a restart wipes away the current state of your operating system/software and starts everything from scratch. Just remove your SD card from your Mac computer. Completely shut down your Mac computer and remove the power cable (if you own a laptop, please remove the battery). Then turn on your computer and replug your SD card to your computer. The SD card should be mounted after the restart.

Solution 3: Check the SD card format

If the SD card is encrypted by Windows BitLocker, then your Mac won't read the card. Because BitLocker drive encryption is developed by Microsoft for the Windows operating system and it can't be supported by macOS. To check this issue, you can insert it to a PC to see if the SD card can be recognized. If you are asked to input the BitLocker password, the SD card is a BitLocker encrypted drive. To resolve this problem, you can decrypt it on Windows, replug it to your Mac and then it can be mounted.

Solution 4: update software on Mac

Out-of-date software can cause various issues. It's possible that the operating system will become sluggish and the connected device may not function properly. Then, the external hard drive won't show up on Mac. Fortunately, you can easily update the software on Mac.

1. Update the software on macOS. If you have upgraded to macOS Mojave or above, you should choose "System Preferences" from the Apple menu, then click "Software Update" to check for updates. If any updates are available, click "Update Now" to install them.

2. Update the software on earlier macOS versions. Just launch the Mac App Store, click the "Update" tab on the top and then choose the "Update All".

Update Mac drivers

Solution 5: Check whether the mounted SD card is set to show up on Mac

Some people say their SD card won't mount, they indicate that when they insert the SD card on Mac, they can't see it on desktop or in Finder. But technically, this case can't be called "SD card not mounting on Mac". How can you check if your SD card is not mounting for real, or just not showing on Mac? You can try the following actions to determine.

  1. Check your Finder preference. First of all, you need to make sure your Finder preference is set to correct. Go to Finder > Preferences > General and ensure that "External disks" are selected. Then go to the Sidebar tab and check External disks option as well. This will show the mounted SD cards as external disks on your desktop and in Finder.
  2. Show SD card on the desktop

  3. Go to Applications folder > Utilities > Disk Utility. After launch Disk Utility, you need to identify if your SD card is listed on the left-hand side of the interface. If the SD card is listed but grayed out, the card is not mounted due to some file system errors.
  4. Meanwhile, chances are that the SD card won't show up on Mac. In this situation, the card might have been physically damaged.

Solution 6: Repair unmountable SD card with Disk Utility

If your SD card is listed in Disk Utility but can't be mounted, you can try right-clicking the card and select the Mount button. If this operation doesn't work, it means the file system of the SD card is corrupted. Don't worry! There are still ways to repair it.

  1. Step 1: Go to Application/Utilities/Disk Utility.
  2. Step 2: Click "View" in the top menu bar (Or click "View" on the top window). Then select "Show All Devices".
  3. Click Show All Devices in Disk Utility

  4. Step 3: Select the unmountable SD card from the left sidebar and click "First Aid" on the top of the Disk Utility window.
  5. Step 4: Click "Run" to perform hard disk diagnostics and fix the not mounting/not working Seagate Backup Plus.
  6. Repair SD card via First Aid

Solution 7: Recover lost data and reformat the SD card

It's very common if Disk Utility is unable to repair disks on Mac because Disk Utility is built in repairing minor errors on a disk. Under this circumstance, the simplest solution is to reformat your SD card. But this operation will cause irreparable data loss problem. So hope you have backed up before. If you forgot, with a Mac data recovery tool, you can also restore lost data from unmountable SD card.

Step 1: Recover lost data from the unmountable SD card

Here recommend you iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery, which is free SD card data recovery software. It can recover lost data from unmountable, formatted, unreadable, inaccessible SD card, memory card, digital camera, external hard drive, hard drive, pen drive, etc. on macOS Catalina 10.15/Mojave 10.14/High Sierra 10.13/Sierra 10.12/10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7. It supports different file systems like APFS, HFS+, HFS+, exFAT, FAT32.

This video will guide you on how to recover lost data from unmountable SD cards:

1. Download and install iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

2. Launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.Recover lost data from unmountable SD cardry.

3. Select the unmountable SD card and click "Scan" button to scan all lost data.

4. Preview the searching results, choose files you need, and click "Recover" to get them back.

Step 2: Reformat the unmountable SD card

1. Launch Disk Utility from Utilities and click "View" in the top menu bar. Then make sure the "Show All Devices" is ticked.

2. Select the unmountable SD card in Disk Utility sidebar.

3. Click Erase on the top.

4. Finish the process to format the unmountable SD card.

Solution 8: Look for help from the local professionals

If you can't view the SD card on Mac as it's not showing up in Disk Utility, you are out of luck. Mac computer can't recognize the SD card because of physical damage or hardware issues. In this case, you can only send the SD card to local professionals for help. However, if you are lucky enough, the SD card appears in Disk Utility, just not mounting though. You have an opportunity to prevent data loss, using data recovery software, like iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery, to recover files from this SD card.


Katrina is a data recovery expert @iBoysoft who loves to help readers solve various data recovery problems.