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How to Fix SD Card Not Readable by Mac Without Losing Data

Updated on Tuesday, June 18, 2024

iBoysoft author Jessica Shee

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Jessica Shee

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Summary: This post from iBoysoft will fix your SD card that's not readable by Mac. To prevent data loss, you can use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to retrieve data from the unreadable SD card.

SD card not readable by Mac

SD cards are a type of memory card typically used in digital cameras, camcorders, MP3 players, phones, and other portable devices. Unfortunately, if an SD card becomes damaged and unreadable, you are not allowed to access the SD card on a Mac.

Here is a real case of an SD card not readable by Mac:

I have this issue when I insert my (SanDisk) micro SD card in Mac, an error message popped out: "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer." With three options: "initialize, ignore, and eject". Any help would be really appreciated!

If you encounter the error message, "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer," or "The disk you attached was not readable by this computer", avoid clicking on the "Initialize" button. This action will wipe out all the data on the card. This guide will demonstrate how to resolve the SD card unreadable issue on Mac and provide steps to recover data from the affected card.

FixesApplicable scenarioDifficulty level
Verify SD card readerThe SD card reader is malfunctioningEasy
Change USB portThe connected USB port is busyEasy
Restart MacSoftware bugs or glitchesEasy
Check the SD card formatThe file system is incompatible with macOSEasy
Repair with First AidThe SD card is slightly corruptedEasy
Initialize/Format SD cardThe SD card is severely corruptedModerate

Why is the SD card not readable by Mac?

SD cards are generally more prone to corruption compared to other storage devices because their small size, portability, and common use in various devices may expose them to certain conditions that could lead to corruption or damage.

The disk you attached was not readable by this computer

Explore some specific potential causes that could trigger the error message "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer" when dealing with your Mac SD card.

  • Card reader problems: The card reader on the Mac or the external card reader used might be faulty or incompatible.
  • Corrupted file system: The file system on the SD card may become corrupted due to improper ejection, sudden removal, or other factors. This can make the card unreadable.
  • Malfunctioning USB port: If you connect the SD card to the Mac through a USB port, the broken or busy USB port may cause the SD card to not be readable by the Mac.
  • Virus or malware: If the SD card is infected with a virus or malware, it might become unreadable or cause issues when connected to a Mac.
  • File system incompatibility: The file system on this SD card may not be entirely compatible with your macOS version, or the SD card could be encrypted using a third-party full-disk encryption method.
  • Driver issues: Outdated or incompatible device drivers on the Mac can also lead to the SD card not being recognized on Mac.
  • Physical Damage: Physical damage to the SD card, such as a bent connector or damaged internal components, can prevent it from being read.

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Recover data from the unreadable SD card on Mac

No matter what renders your SD card unreadable, your valuable data stored within the card becomes inaccessible. Don't worry. Specialized Mac data recovery software can recover crucial files and folders from an unreadable SD card.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is a top-tier data retrieval software that can deal with various data loss scenarios, including SD cards not readable by Mac computers. It can recover a wide variety of data such as photos, videos, documents, and many more from SD cards. This software can work on most macOS versions from OS X 10.11 to macOS 14. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac also supports data recovery from other storage devices like hard drives and USB flash drives. 

It is easy to recover an SD card on a Mac by following the steps below. 

Step 1. Download and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

Step 2. Connect your unreadable SD card to your Mac and select it from the detected device list.

Scan SD card

Step 3. Click Search for Lost Data and the data recovery software will scan the SD card for files.

Step 4. Browse through the found files and preview the files you want to recover.

Found files from SD card

Step 5.  Checkbox the files you want to recover and click Recover.

Did iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac help you recover your important files? If it did, help others with their lost files too.


6 ways - fix SD card not readable by Mac error

We've gathered a set of proven troubleshooting solutions based on potential reasons to help address the issue.

Fix 1. Verify the SD card reader

If your SD card functions properly when connected to the camera, phone, or another device, but fails to be recognized by your Mac computer, it suggests there may be an issue with the computer's card reader.

SD card reader

Use another card reader and see if the "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer" error message disappears. 

Fix. Change the USB port

If your computer has both front and back USB ports, consider connecting the card reader to a different USB port. Alternatively, test the port with another device to check its functionality.

Insert the SD card reader firmly into the USB port to a secure connection as well. A loose connection can hinder the Mac from communicating with the card properly, resulting in the SD card not being readable on the Mac.

Fix 3. Disconnect the SD card and restart your Mac computer

A simple restart of your Mac can often do wonders. Give it a try: disconnect your unreadable SD card, go to the Apple menu, and select Restart. After the restart, reconnect the SD card to the Mac's USB port. This can sometimes reset the connection, enabling your Mac to read the SD card properly.

Fix 4. Check the SD card format

The issue may arise when the inserted drive is either unformatted or formatted with a file system unsupported by macOS, like EXT or an encrypted file system. To verify the memory card's format, use the Disk Utility app on your Mac.

Step 1. Open Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

Step 2. Select the SD card in the left sidebar.

Step 3. View the file system format under the card name in the right pane.

check the SD card format

macOS can read HFS+ (Mac OS Extended), APFS, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFSX, and HFS (Mac OS Standard) file systems. If the format appears as something else or is listed as unknown, consider connecting the SD card to a system that can read it, or reformat the SD card using a compatible file system.

Fix 5. Repair the unreadable SD card with Disk Utility

macOS has a handy built-in tool called First Aid in Disk Utility, designed to fix minor disk problems like partition table damages and file system errors. It can be used when you encounter other SD card problems such as an SD card not mounting on Mac.

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

Step 2: Select the SD card that is not readable by Mac from the left sidebar.

Step 3: Click First Aid from the toolbar at the top.

Run First Aid on SD card

Step 4. Click Run on the pop-up and click Done when the First Aid finishes.

Then you can reopen the SD card to see if you can bypass the 'The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer" error message on your Mac SD card.

If one of the methods resolved your SD card not readable by Mac issue, share which one it is. 


Fix 6. Initialize or format the unreadable SD card

When your SD memory card becomes unreadable on Mac, the best solution is to erase and format the SD card on Mac for compatibility. However, be aware that this approach erases all data on the card. Before proceeding, use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to retrieve important files from the card.

Step 1. Open Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Or click the Initialize button on the alert window. 

Step 2. Select the card and click on the Erase button at the top toolbar.

Step 3. Assign a name, select FAT or exFAT as the format, and keep the default scheme option if any.

how to format SD card on Mac

Step 4. Click on the Erase button and wait until the formatting process is complete. 


This post focuses on how to fix an SD card not readable by Mac error as well as to recover data from an unreadable SD card. Resolving the problem is not complicated using the mentioned methods. If you value the information stored on the SD card and lack backups, you should prioritize data recovery from the unreadable SD card with the help of iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

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