Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips

How to Fix SD Card not Showing up, Reading or Recognizing on Mac?

Updated on Tuesday, June 28, 2022

iBoysoft author Jessica Shee

Written by

Jessica Shee
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Henrique Vieira

How to Fix SD Card not Showing up, Reading, or Recognizing on Mac?

Summary: Here you will find possible reasons why Mac not showing up, recognizing, or reading SD card, and 11 proven methods to fix this issue. As a faulty SD card means danger to your stored data, learning how to use iBoysoft Data Recovery Software can help you to avoid data loss by assisting you to recover your files to a safer place.

SD card not working on mac

Table of Contents:

How to find and open an SD card on Mac

After an SD card is inserted into your Mac, find out the place where it shows up on Mac and access data on it.

If you can see the SD card icon showing up on the desktop, double-click it to open it.

Or, open the Finder app, and you'll see your SD card listed under Locations (older OS versions can list under Devices) in the left pane. Click the SD card and then view the contents on the SD card in the right pane. You can copy, move, delete, or share videos and photos on the SD card freely.

Have you learned to find and open an SD card on Mac by these steps? If you have, let's share with others!

 

Why is Mac not showing up, recognizing, or reading SD card

If you are using a SanDisk SD card anytime you can face any situation like this:

I connected my SanDisk SD card to transfer some necessary files and folders, but my card is not recognized by MacBook Pro. I thought to check my card properly and I connected that SD card to my friend's machine but again card didn't get recognized on his Mac machine. Maybe there is a problem with my SD card? Any solution to resolve the issue?

When you insert an SD card into your Mac, nothing happens - the SD card does not show up on Mac. So the SD card is not working, your Mac doesn't read or recognize the SD card. Consequently, you can't access the data stored on it.

Even some Mac users find that their 2021 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pros (M1 Pro and M1 Max Mac) fail to read their SD cards via the internal SD card slots.

Wondering why your Mac is not reading the SD card? Here are 7 common reasons why an SD card isn't working on Mac.

  • USB port is not working or damaged.
  • SD card reader is defective.
  • SD card is formatted incorrectly (the file system is not compatible with macOS)
  • SD card reader driver is outdated.
  • SD card has logical corruption.
  • SD card is physically damaged.

Does it mean that you'll permanently lose your photos, videos, and other important files? No, this passage will help you recover data from the SD card on Mac and also fix the unreadable or unrecognized SD card.

In a word, you'll need to check whether your SD card's error is due to a faulty reader device, a logical problem, or a physical one. If it's not the SD card's physical damage, you can try to fix it with the following solutions in this post, otherwise, you have to ask for help from a trained expert.

Finding the problems? Share this guide with other people who meet this issue!

 

Solutions to fix SD card not showing up, reading, or recognized on Mac

To help you fix the SD card not showing up, working, or reading on Mac, we have listed some feasible quick solutions.

  • Fix 1: Check the connections and restart your Mac
  • Fix 2: Check Finder and desktop preferences
  • Fix 3: Check if SD card is locked or damaged
  • Fix 4: Check if SD card reader is not working
  • Fix 5: Mount SD card in Disk Utility
  • Fix 6: Reset NVRAM/PRAM
  • Fix 7: Repair SD card via First Aid
  • Fix 8: Recover data and format SD card
  • Fix 9: Update the SD card drivers on Mac
  • Fix 10: Send SD card to an expert for reparation
  • Fix 11: Replace SD card with a new one

Fix 1: Check the connections and restart your Mac

When your SD card not showing up on Mac after being inserted, the first thing you should do is to check the connections.

Check here how to insert an SD card into your Mac:

If your Mac comes with a built-in SD card slot, you can insert a compatible SD card. And note that:

  • Avoid using an SD card that has a thickness greater than 2.1mm.
  • Make sure that the metal contacts face down and point toward the computer when inserting an SD card.
  • If your SD Card is an SD adapter for microSD, make sure the MicroSD is inserted properly in the adapter, if the issue persists replace the adapter for another one.
  • Do not force the device into the slot if you note an uncommon resistance, instead pull back the SD card or MicroSD adaptor and visually check for deformities in the card or slot.

How to insert an SD card on Mac

Anyway, a simple reboot can fix a computer issue 80-90% of the time. It also works when external drives are not showing up on Mac. So, when your Mac like MacBook not reading the SD card, you can try to remove the SD card and then switch off the Mac. Leave it for a few minutes, turn it back on, and try again.

Then your computer will recognize the SD card inserted into the card slot as a storage device. You can read and write to an SD card just like any other external drive.

But if your MacBook Pro/Air has no SD card slot, you need to buy an SD card reader/adapter for your Mac and download its SD card reader driver. Insert the micro SD card into the slot face up with the gold pins going first.

If your SD card is still not showing up, download (free download), install iBoysoft Data Recovery on your Mac, and then check if your SD card is recognized by iBoysoft Data Recovery.

If your SD card is detected by iBoysoft Data Recovery, follow the wizard to recover data and then format the SD card on Mac. If your SD card is not detected by iBoysoft Data Recovery either, send the SD card to an expert for reparation and/or data recovery.

Fix 2: Check Finder and desktop preferences

Usually, the external drives are set to show up on the desktop or Finder. But in rare cases, that's also the possible cause why your SD card not showing up on Mac. Let's see how to do to show SD card on Mac's desktop and Finder.

1. Go to Finder > Preferences > General, and make sure the "External disks" option is ticked. This will make the SD card show up on the Desktop.

Show SD card on Mac desktop

2. Select the Sidebar tab on the top, and make sure the External disks option under Locations is also ticked.

3. Go to Desktop and check if your SD card is showing up.

Fix 3: Check if the SD card is locked or damaged

Another case for Mac not reading SD card is that the SD card is write-protected. To work on the SD card again, you need to safely eject the SD card and adjust the lock slider tab on the SD card to unlock it. Then, reinsert the SD card into the slot.

Unlock a write-protected SD card

If it is still not working, you can test if your SD card is damaged on different devices, such as phones, digital cameras, or other computers.

For instance, you can remove the SD card from your Mac and insert it into your digital camera. If your SD card is still not detected or working on the camera, the card might be damaged, or you need to try the following solutions.

Fix 4: Check if the SD card reader is not working

Commonly, the latest Mac models have no SD card slot. You usually need an SD card reader for MacBook Pro to read your SD card. When your Mac doesn't recognize the SD card, it is necessary to check whether the card reader is working or not.

It doesn't matter that you access the SD card by the built-in slot on your Mac or a third-party SD card reader (or adapter). Simply follow these steps to check if the SD card reader is recognized or not.

  1. Click Apple Menu > About This Mac > System Report.
  2. Find Card Reader under the Hardware list.Find SD card reader info on Mac
  3. If the card reader works, you can see its Vendor ID and some other product information.

When your SD card is inserted, it should also be listed on the right pane with specifications.

If unfortunately, the SD card reader is not working, it might be an SD card hardware issue. For a broken slot built in your MacBook, you need to send it to a local Apple store for repair service, but you can still work on SD cards with an external reader until you fix the built-in one. Instead, for a malfunctioned external SD card reader, you can simply replace it with a new one.

Fix 5: Mount SD card in Disk Utility

If your Mac can't read and recognize an SD card, you should go to Disk Utility and see whether the SD card is listed. Just Open Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

SD card is not showing up in Disk Utility

If your SD card is showing up in Disk Utility, but the SD card is greyed out, that means the SD card is not mounting on Mac. Simply select the Mount option to see if the SD card will be mounted and appear in Finder and the desktop.

If your SD card cannot be mounted, your memory SD card must have corruption and it is time to free download iBoysoft Data Recovery on your Mac and then recover data from SD card. After recovering data, just reformat the SD card and make it work again.

If you can't find your SD card in Disk Utility, the SD card usually has some hardware issues, please refer to the last two solutions.

Fix 6: Reset NVRAM/PRAM

NVRAM/PRAM, a chip in an Intel-based Mac, is used to remember the basic settings for your computer, including sound volume, display resolution, startup disk selection, peripheral devices, and more. It's worth resetting whenever you find your computer's hardware acting in unexpected ways. For example, an SD card can't work on Mac.

To reset NVRAM, you should shut down your Mac, then turn it on and immediately press and hold Option + Command + P + R. Keep holding down those keys for about 20 seconds. Then release the keys and allow your Mac to continue starting normally.

Fix 7: Repair SD card via First Aid

Doesn't Mac still read your SD card? If you can't mount your SD card in Disk Utility, the SD card may be corrupted and needs to be repaired. All portable hard drives have a limited life span, as wear and tear could bring bad sectors on the disk.

Thankfully, macOS has a built-in repair tool - First Aid, which allows you to fix SD card errors on Mac and make it readable on Mac again.

Although First Aid is a file system repair tool, it may cause data loss when repairing file system errors. So, recovering data with iBoysoft Data Recovery is highly recommended before using First Aid.

Steps to fix SD card via First Aid:

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  2. Select the corrupted SD card and click First Aid on the top.
  3. Wait until the reparation process is finished.

Run First Aid

Then, you can try to mount the SD card again to fix the SD card not being recognized issue.

If your SD card cannot be repaired with the First Aid tool, and if you have not yet recovered your precious files with iBoysoft, it is time to download (free download), and install iBoysoft Data Recovery on your Mac, and then recover data from SD card. After recovering data, just reformat the SD card and make it work again.

Fix 8: Recover data and format SD card

When running First Aid, you receive an error message like this: Disk Utility can't repair this disk. Back up as many of your files as possible, reformat the disk and restore your backed-up files. Or after running First Aid, the SD card still can't be mounted.

Both show that the file system of your SD card is seriously damaged. That's also the reason why your SD card not showing up or being recognized on Mac. To fix the issue, you need to reformat your SD card.

However, formatting an SD card will erase all data on it. So, it's crucial to perform SD card recovery on Mac from your corrupted SD card first to avoid permanent data loss.

Step 1: Recover data from SD card

To recover data from an unreadable or corrupted SD card on Mac, you have to use data recovery software, such as iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

This Mac data recovery software supports recovering files from unmounted, corrupted, unreadable, and inaccessible internal and external hard drives, like SD cards, memory cards, and USB drives.

Without further ado, watch this video - a stepwise SD card data recovery tutorial to recover the lost data from the SD card at once.

 SD card data recovery  

Here are the detailed steps to recover data from SD card:

  1. Download (free download) and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac.
  2. Connect your unrecognized SD card to your Mac.
  3. Launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac and scan your SD card.
  4. Click Preview to check the files on the SD card.
  5. Click Recover to get data back.

After recovering data from your SD card, now you can continue to fix your unrecognized SD card.

Step 2: Reformat your SD card with Disk Utility

Steps to format SD card on Mac:

  1. Select the SD card from the left sidebar of Disk Utility.
  2. Click Erase on the top.
  3. Set a name for your SD card, and select a file system and the Scheme.
  4. Click Erase and wait for the SD card to be formatted.

Erase SD card on Mac

Fix 9: Update the drivers on Mac

If the problem persists, you can check whether the drivers on your Mac are renewed. If your Mac drivers are outdated, your SD card or other external hard drives will not be recognized by your Mac.

In addition, for those whose SD card can't be read by the M1 Pro or M1 Max Mac after reformatting. Apple says that its future software update will fix this issue.

So, updating your Mac and the drivers is indispensable. You can follow these steps to update drives on Mac:

1. If you have upgraded to macOS Big Sur or macOS Monterey, 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. If you are using earlier macOS versions, launch the Mac App Store. Click the Updates tab on the top and check if any items need to be updated, then update them.

Fix 10: Send the SD card to an expert for reparation

If your SD card not showing up in Disk Utility at all after trying all the above methods, it means the SD card has some hardware problem so that Mac can't detect it. In this situation, you have no choice but to send the SD card to an expert for reparation and/or retrieve data.

Fix 11: Replace SD card with a new one

If the warranty of your SD card is still valid, it's most likely time to invest in a replacement or ask for a refund. Remember to recover your data using iBoysoft recovery tools or a data recovery expert before sending it for a replacement.

Tips to prevent 'SD card not showing up, reading or being recognized' in future

SD cards are sensitive media and can easily be damaged, but by using them properly, corruption can be prevented to some extent. Read on for 7 effective tips to preempt SD card not working on Mac:

  1. Format the new SD card as soon as you get it. When you buy an SD card, you should format it on the device and make sure it is compatible with the device system.
  2. Always safely eject the SD card from the device. You should avoid removing the SD card from the device when it is still accessed, such as transferring data or reading data, etc.
  3. Keep some space left on the SD card. Keep in mind that you should never run out of space of your SD card.
  4. Turn off the device before removing the SD card. If you want to remove your SD card from a digital camera or mobile phone, ensure the device is entirely turned off. Otherwise, the SD card can easily be corrupted.
  5. Properly store your SD card in a safe place. Store the SD card in a dry, cool space since dirt, moisture, and other factors could damage them.
  6. Stop using the SD card when getting any errors. As soon as you receive any errors when trying to access the SD card, such as “the disk you inserted is not readable by this computer”, you'd better stop all operations at once in case further damage will be made to the SD card.
  7. Install antivirus software and run it regularly. It's important to run antivirus software to remove any malware on your computer and SD card. In this way, you can prevent malware and virus from damaging your SD card.

Are solutions helpful? Let's share!

 

Conclusion

The issue of SD card not showing up on Mac, or Mac not reading or recognizing SD card, can be easily rectified using the shown efficient solutions. You can begin by checking the connections and then try to fix the corrupted SD card. If your SD card is still not recognized by Mac, you should format the SD card on Mac to see if this fixes your issue.

If you experience any data loss during this process, the good news is that your data can still be recovered with iBoysoft Data Recovery software. This Mac data recovery software can recover deleted/lost photos from SD cards quickly and easily, also compatible with Apple Silicon M1 Mac and macOS 12 Monterey.