SUMMARY: In this write-up, you will get to know about troubleshooting methods that will fix the “Mac not reading SD card” or "SD card not showing up on Mac" issue. However, if you have tried methods like changing Finder Preferences or Disk Utility settings but still ended up formatting your SD card to fix the “SD card not showing up on Mac” error, you can make use of Remo SD card recovery software for Mac to recover the lost files.
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Whenever you insert the SD card in the Mac system, it should be detected and shown in Finder and Disk Utility so that you can access its files on Mac. But sometimes, Mac won’t read the SD card or is unable to recognize the SD card. You are unable to locate it anywhere on a Mac desktop or Disk Utility.
Considering, SD cards are widely used on cameras, or as a portable storage drive, the data existing on SD cards are more personal and even crucial. Also, there are multiple use cases where this error was encountered and users have completely lost access to the data existing on the SD cards. However, no need to panic as in this article you will get solutions to fix the SD card that is not mounting on Mac and will also know how to regain access to an unmountable SD card.
Why is the SD card not showing on Mac?
Firstly, in this situation any of the following 3 devices can be at fault:
- SD card
- Card reader or SD card adapter
- Mac or MacBook
Hence follow the next segment to verify, troubleshoot, and fix the device to access your SD card on Mac. Other than that there can be a few other reasons behind this; virus infection, SD card corruption, or wrong system settings that can hide external drive or result in an unreadable SD card on Mac.
How to Fix Mac Not Reading or Recognizing SD Card?
If your SD card is not showing up on your Mac, there are a few fixes that can solve the problem. Follow the solutions one by one, you will get detailed step-by-step instructions for each.
When an SD card or any drive is not showing up on Mac the thumb rule to be followed before trying various methods to fix the SD card won’t show up on Mac is to “clean the SD card contact points”. It might be basic but it's definitely worth a try. Because, in the long run, your SD card or Mac might have developed a small layer of dust on the contact points resulting in this error.
Along with cleaning the SD card contact points also blow a gust of air into the card reader to clear out any existing dust. After cleaning the SD card and card reader insert it again to check whether your Mac is recognizing your SD card. If your Mac does not recognize the SD card, the error might be critical. Please follow through with the rest of the article to fix the error.
Warning: Under any circumstances, if you feel that the SD card is corrupted, your first priority should be to recover data from the SD card.
If Mac is not recognizing the SD card it can be because the SD card is damaged or it might have encountered some error. The best way to make sure that the SD card is functional is by connecting the SD card to another Mac or Windows computer and troubleshooting it. (Make sure you also check the card reader along with the SD card)
Additionally, while troubleshooting the SD card on another computer, check for a few unusual errors that signify that the SD card is damaged.
For example, an SD card not formatting error is one such issue that will not allow Mac to mount the SD card. Next, the “disk utility can’t repair this drive error” is also an error that signifies that the SD card is completely damaged. So, look out for such error messages while the SD card is connected to another Mac.
If both SD card and card reader are working on another computer, then the error might be on Mac. If the SD card is not working on another computer, then remove the SD card and connect the card reader separately and check if it is working or not.
- Open Finder.
- Click on the Finder option at the top menu of your Mac and choose Preferences.
- Click on the tab.
- Check the External Disks box.
After this, you will be able to see the SD card on the Mac desktop. If not refer to the next solution.
- Open Finder.
- Click on the Finder Option at the upper left of your Mac and select Preferences
- Click on the Sidebar tab.
- Check the External Disks box under Locations so that you can locate the SD card on Mac's Finder.
- Next, launch the Finder again and check if you can see the SD card showing up in the Finder sidebar.
If still, the SD card is not working on Mac, follow the next troubleshooting.
- Connect the SD card again to your Mac, wait a second so that Mac can recognize the SD card.
- Next, open Finder by clicking the smiley face on your desktop.
- Search for Locations in the left sidebar. If no storage device is listed here, then probably the SD card is hidden in the Finder.
- Select Locations, and then click on Show. Then if your SD card was hidden it will show up.
Hopefully, this will make the SD card visible in the Finder. But if you still cannot see it on the desktop and in the Finder, then you can check if the SD card is showing up in Disk Utility. If the SD card is visible in Disk Utility but is greyed out then the problem is that the SD card is not mounting.
Actually, there is a difference between the errors SD card not showing up on Mac and SD can mount on Mac. The difference is the SD card won’t show up means the Mac is just not displaying the SD card in the disk utility.
In case of SD card won’t mount Mac, the SD card will be displayed in the disk utility but, it will be marked as unmountable or not recognized. Many users interpret both the issues as the same.
First Mount the SD card manually. Right-click on the SD card and choose the Mount option beside it. This will help you to mount the card and access the files stored on it. If this does not resolve the issue then maybe the SD card is corrupted.
However, when the Mac is not displaying the SD card it might be because the external disks are disabled. If the external disks are disabled, then the SD card will not be showing up. Here are the details on how to fix it.
- Go to Finder > Preferences. In the preferences, window select the “General” tab where you can see the options
- Hard Disks
- External Disks
- CDs, DVDs, iPods
- Connected servers
- If the option external disks are unmarked or unchecked. Select it and make sure that option has a tick mark next to it.
Now reinsert the SD card and check whether it is showing up. If the SD card is showing in the finder app check if it is mountable or not. If the SD card mounts Mac OS, all your errors are fixed.
However, if the SD card still doesn’t mount Mac then you can fix the error with the help of the first aid utility. If you are in a hurry to access the data, you can recover deleted files from an SD card on Mac using Remo.
First aid is a streamlined tool that will troubleshoot and rectify all the errors on SD cards. The following are the instructions on how to use it to mount your SD card on Mac.
- Go to Utility > Disk Utility and select the SD card that failed to Mount Mac
- Click on the First Aid option and wait for the process to complete
- Once the process completes all your SD card-related errors must be fixed.
Hopefully, once the repairing process is finished it will solve the SD card not showing up on the Mac issue.
However, if you still cannot mount the SD card successfully, it's time to reformat it.
Steps to format SD card on Mac:
- Connect your SD card to Mac via a card reader.
- Open Finder > Applications folder.
- Double-click on Utilities.
- Launch Disk Utility.
- Select your SD card on the left panel and click Erase on top.
- In the dialog box, name the SD card. Select the Format of the file system. You can choose ExFat or some other format.
- Click Erase.
- Click Done once the formatting process completes.
Reformatting gives the corrupted SD card a chance to rebuild the disk structures. But formatting the SD card will erase all of the data stored on the SD card. So, if you have any data on the SD card that is important to you, rescue files off the SD card first.
If you have performed a regular Time Machine backup of your SD card files beforehand, you should be able to recover lost data from Time Machine.
If not, then you need to utilize trusted SD card recovery software to restore data from the SD card that is not detected or not recognized. Use Remo Recover Mac Software to restore all the video, audio, music, and photos from the SD card.
The software is compatible with macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and earlier macOS versions.
You can get back photos, videos, and audio files from all kinds of SD cards on your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Pro, etc., using the software.
By default, all disks and volumes should be visible at the left sidebar in the Disk Utility window. But if the settings are changed somehow, you won’t be able to see the SD card in Disk Utility.
Follow the below-mentioned steps to make the SD card visible in Disk Utility.
- Launch Disk Utility.
- Click on View at the top menu bar.
- Select Show All Devices.
- Check if your SD card shows up in Disk Utility.
If you still see the SD card not showing up in Disk Utility, another option is to restart your Mac. A simple restart often can fix this problem.
However, even after following these solutions still SD card not showing up on the Disk Utility, you can try to connect it to a Windows PC. Then you can check if Windows disk management can recognize it. If unfortunately, the SD card is not showing up on Windows PC either, likely, your SD card or card reader is physically damaged.
Here are the instructions to check the status of the card reader or SD card adapter. Connect the SD card reader without the SD card to Mac. Now access Apple System Profiler or ASP.
- Click on Apple menu > select About This Mac option
ASP contains details of all the hardware and software available on the Mac, such as serial numbers, version numbers, hardware details. So, if your SD card is working properly, ASP should also display details of the card reader.
Generally card reader details are displayed in the hardware section under the USB details with the title “Memory Card Reader”. If memory card reader details are displayed, everything is fine, if not, the card reader might be damaged or there is a card reader error, so switch the card reader. This concludes the troubleshooting SD card and SD card, reader. If everything with respect to SD card and SD card reader is working, the error might be due to Mac.
As mentioned earlier, if you confirm that your SD card is damaged always prioritize recovering the data before repairing the SD card. Remo is one of the best SD card recovery software, no matter how severely damaged your SD card is you can still recover the data from it. With a dedicated photo recovery option, Remo Recover Mac Pro can even detect every RAW photo format. So, check out the tool without fail.
Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.
As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.