How to Format an SD Card on Your Mac

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Key Takeaways

  • SD cards are still useful for video crippled consoles, integer cameras, and mobile phones, contempt nan convenience of unreality storage.
  • You tin format an SD paper connected your Mac utilizing either a built-in SD paper slot aliases an SD paper scholar plugged into a USB port.
  • When formatting an SD card, take nan due record strategy format based connected nan instrumentality you will beryllium utilizing it with, and see utilizing a instrumentality for illustration SD Card Formatter aliases Disk Utility for a user-friendly experience.

SD cards are not nan astir convenient intends of transferring data, particularly pinch unreality retention arsenic an alternative. However, they still person their uses, including pinch video crippled consoles, integer cameras, and mobile phones.

You tin often format an SD paper pinch immoderate instrumentality you're utilizing it in. However, it tin beryllium quicker to usage a computer, and you mightiness want to usage it only pinch a machine anyway. Here's really to grip your card-formatting needs connected macOS.

Connecting an SD Card to Your Mac

First, you’ll request to plug successful your SD card. The attack you return will dangle connected your Mac’s capabilities and your card’s format.

Plugging In an SD Card

First, location are 2 main methods of reference an SD paper pinch a Mac. The easiest and astir convenient method is to insert nan paper into a built-in SD paper slot. However, this is not disposable connected each model.

Over time, Apple has flip-flopped its SD paper support crossed its full line. Whether you person a Mac mini, an iMac, aliases a MacBook Pro, it whitethorn person an SD slot, aliases it whitethorn not; it each depends connected your model’s age.

You should beryllium capable to find your Mac’s SD paper slot if it has one, but if you want to check, Apple’s support page has a database of models that see a beingness slot.

The modular replacement to an SD paper slot is an SD paper reader, which typically plugs into either a USB-A aliases USB-C port. Many USB-C hubs see an SD paper slot, and general-purpose multi-card readers often grip SD cards alongside different types.

Understanding Different SD Card Formats

There are galore types of SD card, ranging successful beingness size and capacity format. The miniSD and microSD formats are physically smaller cards that Mac SD slots do not support natively. But you tin still usage them pinch a passive adapter: a paper that’s nan aforesaid size arsenic a afloat SD card, pinch a slot to location smaller formats.

The SDHC, SDXC, and SDUC formats supply larger capacities for some SD and microSD sizes. Additionally, nan modular SD and nan little celebrated miniSD sizes support SDIO. Although these specifications are mostly unimportant, you should beryllium alert of what existent capacity (e.g. 32 GB) your paper is if you intend to wholly reformat it.

Using Disk Utility to Format an SD Card

Disk Utility is an app shipped pinch macOS. It should beryllium coming successful your /Applications/Utilities folder. You tin use Disk Utility for galore different disk-related tasks, connected some soul and outer retention devices.

The macOS Disk Utility app showing specifications of an SD paper including its capacity and type

Begin by selecting your SD paper from nan database connected nan left-hand side. If you’re utilizing a Mac pinch a built-in SD paper slot, it should show up successful nan Internal section. An SD paper plugged into an outer scholar will show successful nan External section. Make judge you prime nan paper itself, by name, alternatively than nan beingness device. It’s easier to do this if you prime Show Only Volumes from nan View paper successful nan apical left.

Once you person nan paper selected, corroborate that it’s nan 1 that you want to format. You tin cheque nan capacity and utilized space, for example. Then click nan Erase fastener astatine nan apical of nan window. You tin specify a Name for nan paper and its Format.

The macOS Disk Utility app prompting to erase each information connected a disk pinch options to prime nan sanction and format

Selecting a File System Format

Choosing an due record strategy format is important arsenic it whitethorn impact compatibility pinch different devices.

If you’re formatting nan SD paper to usage it successful different device, specified arsenic a integer camera, you should debar immoderate Mac OS formats and prime either MS-DOS (FAT) aliases ExFAT. Use FAT if nan paper is 32 GB aliases less, arsenic each SD and SDHC cards are. Use ExFAT if nan paper is greater than 32 GB, specified arsenic an SDXC aliases SDUC card.

Using SD Card Formatter connected macOS

A abstracted app mightiness look unnecessary since macOS ever includes Disk Utility. However, SD Card Formatter is simply a friendlier alternative, dedicated to nan task of formatting SD cards. It handles specifications specified arsenic nan record strategy for you, and will moreover reformat an ExFat paper arsenic FAT12 if nan second is much efficient. It’s besides free to download and use.

A macOS app named SD Card Formatter shows a elemental interface pinch paper accusation and formatting options.

The app has a very elemental interface pinch fewer options. First, prime nan paper utilizing nan first dropdown menu. Typically, you’ll beryllium moving pinch 1 SD paper astatine a time, which nan app will pre-select. Check nan capacity is what you’d expect. It won’t usually beryllium nan afloat magnitude advertised connected nan card, for respective reasons, but it should beryllium astir equal.

There are 2 Formatting options available: Quick and Overwrite. Quick is nan faster action because it frees up nan abstraction without really erasing nan earthy data. The Overwrite method really wipes nan aged data, truthful you should usage it if information is simply a interest and you want to guarantee that cipher tin ever retrieve nan data.

Finally, you tin proviso a Volume label which is simply a sanction for nan SD paper to thief you admit it later. It tin beryllium useful to see nan capacity aliases nan shaper successful this name, peculiarly if you activity pinch respective different cards.

Using nan Command Line

Do not usage this action unless you are very confident!

You should person a heavy knowing of position specified arsenic record strategy format and partition earlier proceeding. You should besides admit precisely which disk you are dealing pinch erstwhile shown a measurement identifier specified arsenic disk2. Be very observant not to accidentally format nan incorrect drive!

With those caveats, nan diskutil instrumentality is nan command-line balanced of Disk Utility. Open nan Mac Terminal app and statesman by listing nan disposable drives connected your system:

diskutil list

You should beryllium capable to place which is your SD paper via its name. In nan database of drives, you will spot an identifier, typically thing for illustration disk2. You should make judge you are definite you are moving pinch nan correct instrumentality earlier continuing. To erase each contents, but support nan aforesaid underlying building (file system), usage nan reformat command, for example:

diskutil reformat disk2

If you want to alteration nan record system, usage nan pursuing precocious command:

diskutil eraseDisk "HFS+" NameOfSDCard disk2

The HFS+ is nan type of record strategy you wish to use. You tin spot which record systems your type of diskutil supports pinch nan pursuing command:

diskutil listFilesystems

The full man page gives elaborate instructions connected really to usage this analyzable but powerful tool.

Troubleshooting Problems With SD Card Formatting connected Mac

You shouldn’t tally into immoderate problems, particularly if you usage 1 of nan user-friendly GUI methods. However, if thing does spell wrong, it will astir apt person 1 of nan pursuing causes.

Trying to Format a Read-Only Card

SD cards person a beingness move fastener which you tin usage to forestall accidental information loss. If a paper is successful read-only mode, you won’t beryllium capable to format it. Under Disk Utility, you’ll get an error, but nan connection itself tin beryllium rather cryptic:

A screenshot showing a publication only correction successful Disk Utility for Mac

The SD Card Formatter app gives a friendlier “Cannot format constitute protected card” error:

A screenshot showing a read-only correction successful SD Card Formatter for Mac

To move read-only mode off, descent nan move towards nan extremity pinch nan contacts.

Formatting With an Incompatible File System

Using Disk Utility, it’s imaginable to prime a record strategy that is incompatible pinch nan SD paper you are formatting. For example, trying to format an aged 8MB paper pinch nan Mac OS Extended (Journaled) type tin consequence successful an correction arsenic shown:

A screenshot showing a size correction successful Disk Utility for Mac

With Plenty of Options, Choose nan Right One for You

A instrumentality for illustration SD Card Formatter tin simplify nan process of formatting an SD card, but Apple’s built-in Disk Utility app tin besides do nan job. Be observant to understand nan differences betwixt record systems, peculiarly erstwhile utilizing an precocious instrumentality specified arsenic diskutil connected nan bid line.

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