SD Card is not Showing up or Being Recognized on Mac [Easy Fixes]

Updated on January 1, 2023

If you’re trying to access an SD card on your Mac and it’s not showing up, reading, or being recognized, it can be frustrating. In this article, we’ll explore some of the common reasons for an SD card not showing up on Mac and provide ten solutions for fixing the issue. Additionally, we will examine preventive measures to avoid similar issues in the future.

Part 1. Some Typical Reasons Why an SD Card Isn’t Working on Mac

There are multiple potential causes of an SD card malfunction on a Mac. Some of the most common include:

– Inoperative or damaged USB port

If the USB port through which the SD card reader is connected is defective or damaged, it could be the source of the problem. This can be resolved by attempting to use a different USB port or testing the port with an alternative device to assess its functionality.

– Defective SD card reader

If the SD card reader itself is faulty, it may be unable to read or recognize the SD card. In this instance, you may need to replace the card reader or try a different one.

– Incorrect SD card formatting

If the file system on the SD card is incompatible with macOS, the Mac may not recognize it. This issue can be resolved by formatting the SD card using a compatible file system.

– Outdated SD card reader driver

If the driver for the SD card reader is outdated, it may be unable to recognize the SD card. Updating the driver might resolve the issue.

– Logically corrupted SD card

If the SD card has experienced logical corruption, the Mac may not recognize it. In this case, you may need to utilize a data recovery tool to attempt to recover the data on the card and then reformat the card.

– Physically damaged SD card

If the SD card has sustained physical damage, the Mac may not recognize it. In this instance, you may need to send the card to a professional for repair or replacement.

Part 2. Ten Solutions to Fix SD Card not Showing up, Reading, or Recognized on Mac

There are several potential solutions to address an SD card not showing up, reading, or being recognized on a Mac. The following are ten approaches that you can try:

Solution 1: Verify connections and restart Mac

One initial step is to confirm the connections between the Mac, the SD card reader, and the SD card are secure and not loose. If the connections are functioning properly, consider restarting the Mac to determine if that resolves the issue.

Solution 2: Examine Finder and desktop preferences

If the SD card is not appearing on the Mac desktop, it could be because Finder preferences are set to hide external drives. To confirm this, navigate to Finder > Preferences and ensure “External disks” is selected under “Show these items on the desktop.”

C:\Users\Alice Yang\Desktop\01-finder.jpg

Solution 3: Confirm SD card lock status and assess for damage

If the SD card has a physical lock switch, ensure it is not in the locked position. If the SD card is damaged, it may not be recognized by the Mac. In this instance, professional repair or replacement may be necessary.

Solution 4: Test SD card reader functionality

If the SD card reader itself is not operational, it could be causing issues with the SD card. To test this, try using a different SD card reader or connect the SD card directly to the Mac using a USB-C to SD card reader adapter. To verify that the SD card reader is recognized by the system, you can follow these steps:

  • Open the “About This Mac” window by clicking the Apple menu and selecting “About This Mac.” Click the “System Report” button.
  • In the System Report window, expand the “Hardware” section in the left-hand pane.
  • Under the Hardware list, click “Card Reader.” (If the SD card reader is recognized by the system, you should see its vendor ID and other product information in the right-hand pane.)
C:\Users\Alice Yang\Desktop\02-card-reader-mac.jpg

Solution 5: Mount SD card in Disk Utility

If the SD card is not appearing in Finder, it might be mounted in Disk Utility. To do this, navigate to Applications > Utilities and open Disk Utility. From there, select the SD card from the left sidebar and click “Mount” at the top of the window.

C:\Users\Alice Yang\Desktop\03-disk-utilty.jpg

Solution 6: Reset NVRAM/PRAM

NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory) and PRAM (Parameter RAM) are types of memory that store specific settings on the Mac. If these settings are corrupted, it can cause issues with the SD card. To reset NVRAM/PRAM, shut down the Mac and power it back on while holding down the Option, Command, P, and R keys. Continue holding these keys until the startup sound is heard a second time.

Solution 7: Repair SD card via First Aid

If the SD card is appearing in Disk Utility but is not functioning correctly, it can be repaired using the First Aid feature. To do this, select the SD card in Disk Utility and click “First Aid” on the top of the window. Follow the prompts to repair the SD card.

C:\Users\Alice Yang\Desktop\04-first-aid.jpg

Then, you can try to mount the SD card again to see if the SD card can get recognized. If you cannot repair the SD card with the First Aid tool, you may need file recovery tools to get back important data from the SD card and then reformat the SD card to make it work again.

Solution 8: Retrieve data and reformat this SD card

To retrieve data from a damaged or unreadable SD card on a Mac, specialized data recovery software is required. One such option is iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, which supports the recovery of files from unmounted, corrupted, unreadable, and inaccessible internal and external storage devices, including SD cards, memory cards, and USB drives. The following is a step-by-step guide to using iBoysoft Data Recovery for SD card data recovery:

Step 1. Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your iMac, MacBook or MacBook Air.

Step 2. Connect the unreadable SD card to your computer and launch the Mac data recovery software.

Step 3. Select the SD card from the drive list and click “Search for Lost Data.”

Step 4. Wait for the scan to complete, then you can preview all the recoverable files on the SD card.

C:\Users\Alice Yang\Desktop\recover-sd-card-data.jpg

Step 5. Click “Recover” to save your important files to a different location.

Once the data has been recovered, you can proceed to reformat the SD card using Disk Utility on a Mac:

  • In the Disk Utility window, select the SD card from the list of available drives in the left-hand sidebar.
  • Click “Erase” at the top of the window, in the erase dialog, enter a new name for the SD card, select a file system and scheme, and then click the “Erase” button to begin the formatting process.

Solution 9: Update SD card drivers on Mac

If the issue pertains to the drivers that the Mac uses to communicate with the SD card reader, updating them may be necessary. To do this, access the Apple menu and select “About This Mac.” From there, click the “System Report” button and choose “USB” from the sidebar. Search for the SD card reader in the list and determine if a newer version of the driver is available. If so, update the driver and attempt to use the SD card again.

Solution 10: Send SD card to expert for repair

If none of the previous solutions have been successful and issues with the SD card persist, it may be advisable to send it to an expert for repair or replacement. Look for a reputable computer repair shop or contact the manufacturer of the SD card for assistance.

Part 3. Strategies to Avoid ‘SD Card Not Showing Up, Reading or Being Recognized’ Issues in the Future

To avoid future issues with SD cards not being recognized on Macs, you can try the following:

  1. Use a high-quality SD card reader that is specifically designed for Macs.
  2. Avoid using an SD card reader that has visible damage or loose connections.
  3. Don’t use an SD card that shows signs of physical damage, such as scratches or bends.
  4. Keep your Mac’s operating system and drivers up-to-date to ensure compatibility with the SD card reader and SD card.
  5. Set up a reliable data backup system to reduce the risk of losing important data on the SD card.
  6. Properly eject the SD card through the operating system before removing it to prevent interrupting data transfer.
  7. Protect the SD card from exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, and magnetic fields.
  8. If you encounter future issues with an SD card, consider using a reputable SD card repair or recovery service.
Article by:
Kenny Trinh
While he’s not editing articles on the latest tech trends, he likes to discuss business and entrepreneur. His writing has been featured in national publications such as Forbes, RD, Yahoo Finance, HackerNoon among others.

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