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

If you have suffered data loss from SD card, free download iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover data now.

By Katrina | Posted to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips, updated on May 10th, 2021

Accidents happen at any time, for example: When I insert SD card, nothing happens on Mac. When your SD card is not working properly, you can't open and access the files stored on the SD card.

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

How to fix Mac not showing up, reading or recognizing SD card?

As below, we have listed some feasible solutions to fix SD card not showing up, working or reading on Mac:

Option 1: Restart your Mac

Whether the issue is related to networking, graphics, slow performance, faulty programs or macOS issue, a simple reboot can fix a computer issue 80-90% of the time. It also works when external drives are not recognized by macOS.

When your SD card is not reading on Mac, 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.

Option 2: Check your Finder desktop and sidebar preferences

On Mac, you can choose to show connected items on the desktop, including hard disks, external disks, connected servers. Therefore, if you don't set the preference to show your SD card on the desktop, it won't appear on Mac. Easy to understand, huh? Let's see how to show SD card on the desktop?

  • 1. Go to Finder > Preferences > General, make sure the "External disks" option is ticked. This will make the SD card show up on the Desktop.
  • Show external disks on the desktop
  • 2. Select the Sidebar tab on the top, make sure the External disks option under Locations is also ticked.
  • Show external disks in Finder

Option 3: Check if SD card reader is not working

To access an SD card, you usually need a card reader. When your SD card won't work on Mac, the first thing to check is 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. Simply click Apple Menu > About This Mac > System Report.
  • 2. Find Card Reader under the Hardware list.
  • check if the SD card reader is working or not
  • 3. If the card reader works, you can see its Vendor ID, Serial Number, and some other product information. When your SD card is inserted, it should also be listed at the right with specifications.

If unfortunately, the card reader is not recognized, 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. Instead, for a malfunctioned external SD card reader, you can simply replace it with a new one.

How to fix SD card reader not working on Mac?

Option 4: Check for the connection issue

If the card reader is working fine, then you should check the connections. First of all, make sure you insert your SD card properly. (The metal contacts must face down and point toward your Mac). Secondly, you can test your SD card on a different card reader. If you can access the SD card then, it should be the card reader that has a problem.

Option 5: Check if SD card is locked

Another case for SD card not working on Mac is that the SD card is write protected. When you try to write content to the locked SD card, you cannot modify the files on the locked SD card. To work on the SD card again, you need to safely eject the SD card and adjust the lock slider tab on the card to unlock the card. Then you can access the SD card after you reinsert it to the slot.

check if the SD card is write-protected

Option 6: Insert your SD card in different devices

Another very effective strategy that you can implement is to insert the SD card in 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 Android phone. If your SD card is still not detected or working on a phone, the card might be damaged or you need to try the following solutions.

Option 7: Reset NVRAM/PRAM

NVRAM/PRAM is a chip in Intel-based Macs used to remember the setting for your computer, including sound volume, display resolution, startup disk selection, time zone, peripheral devices and more. It's worth resetting whenever you find your computer's hardware acting in unexpected ways.

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.

Option 8: Mount SD card in Disk Utility

After resetting NVRAM/PRAM, your SD card is still not recognized on Mac. You should go to Disk Utility again and see whether the SD card is listed. If you can see your SD card in Disk Utility, but the SD card is greyed out, that means the SD card is not mounting. Simply select the Mount option to see if the SD card will be mounted in Finder and desktop.

Option 9: Update the drivers on Mac

If the issue still exists, you can check whether the drivers on your Mac is renewed. If your Mac drivers are outdated, your SD card or other external hard drives will not be recognized by your Mac. Here are steps to update drives on Mac:

1. If you have upgraded to macOS Mojave, 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, just launch the Mac App Store, click the Update tab on the top and then choose the "Update All".

Update drivers on Mac

Option 10: Repair SD card via First Aid

Still, have no luck to get your Mac to read the SD card? 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.

  • 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 finished.
  • Run First Aid to repair SD card

Option 11: Reformat your SD card

If unfortunately, you receive the error message: "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", the file system of your SD card is seriously damaged and you need to reformat it.

Step 1: Recover data from SD card.

When facing the SD card not reading or recognized issue, you are at a risk of data loss of your SD card. In most cases, you need to reformat your SD card to make it readable or recognized, or even send it to repairation, which will lead to data loss.

So, it's very necessary to recover data from your corrupted SD card first to avoid data loss after doing some fixes.

To do a unreadable or corrupted SD card recovery on Mac, you have to use a data recovery software, such as iBoysoft Data Recovery Software for Mac.

Here is the detailed steps:

Mac data recovery software

  • Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac computer.
  • Connect your unrecognized SD card to your Mac.
  • Launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac and scan your SD card.
  • Click Preview to check the files on the SD card.
  • Click Recover to get data back.

If you want to learn more, please read this article: How to recover data from SD card on Mac.

Step 2: Reformat your SD card with Disk Utility.

How to format an SD card on Mac?

Option 12: Send SD card to an expert for reparation

If your SD card can't be seen in Disk Utility at all after trying all 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.

Option 13: 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. Rmember to recover your data before sending it for a replacement.

Understanding why SD card not showing up, reading or recognized on Mac

However, there are times when you insert SD card into Mac, the SD card won't show up on Mac. Or what's worse, SD card won't work on your Mac. You must have experienced a similar situation. Don't be panicked, as you are not the only person, many Mac users have encountered this problem:

I connected my 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?

Wondering why the SD card is not recognized by Mac? Go on, please.

SD cards are prone to be damaged. 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 not working.
  • SD card is formatted incorrectly (the file system is not compatible with macOS)
  • SD card driver is outdated.
  • SD card is logically corrupted.
  • There are bad sectors in the SD card.
  • SD card is physically damaged.

In a word, you'll need to determine whether your SD card's error is due to a logical problem or a physical one. For the former, you can try to fix it by yourself, otherwise, you have to ask for help from a trained expert.

How to prevent 'SD card not showing up, reading or recognized' in future?

SD cards are easy to be damaged, but using them in the right way, corruption can be avoided to some extent. Read on for 7 effective tips to prevent 'SD card not working':

  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 SD card from the device. On Mac, click on the Finder icon on the Dock. Locate the SD card from the left sidebar and click on the Eject icon next to the name of the SD card. As an alternative, you can drag the device to the Trash on the desktop to eject it. More specifically, 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 the 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, you should 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 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 scan an SD card for viruses and running antivirus software to remove any malware on your computer. In this way, you can prevent malware and virus from damaging your SD card.

How to insert, use, and open SD card on Mac?

To insert an SD card to your Mac notebook or mini, first you need to know does the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro have SD card slot or not.

Apple dropped the SD card slot in MacBook Pro starting with 2016 model. While MacBook Air 2015 and later MacBook never included an SD slot.

If your Mac comes with a built-in SD card slot, you can insert a compatible SD card, avoiding using SD card that has a thickness greater than 2.1mm.

When inserting SD card, you should make sure that the metal contacts face down and point toward the computer. Then your computer will recognize SD card inserted into the card slot as a storage device. You can read and write to SD card just like any other external drive.

How to fix Mac not recognizing external drives issue?

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

How to open and eject an SD card from Mac?

Step 1: Open SD card in Finder.

Click the Finder app, you will see your SD card listed in the left pane and then view the contents of the SD card in the right pane.

Step 2: Safely eject SD card.

After you finish your work on the SD card, you can remove it properly. But before that, you need to make sure that all data transfer to SD media is completed. Then the SD card will work correctly next time. To eject the card, drag its icon on the desktop to the Trash. After the icon disappears from your desktop, you are safe to remove the card from the slot.

You should avoid removing an SD card while your Mac is sleeping. It could lead to data loss. Always wake your computer, save your work, and then safely eject the SD card.


How to deal with SD card not working or recognized on Mac? No matter what causes this problem, there are lots of potential solutions. You can begin by checking the connection and then try to repair 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 issue during this process, the good news is that your data can still be recovered with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. This Mac data recovery software can recover deleted/lost photos from SD card quickly and easily, also compatible with Apple Silicon M1 Mac and macOS Big Sur.

Should you have another suggestion to fix SD card not working or detected issue on Mac? Or have any questions when you are using iBoysoft Data Recovery software? Please feel free to contact us by sending an email.

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