Fix SD Card Not Showing Up on Mac (Big Sur)

Updated to Troubleshooting Tips by William on Dec 18, 2023 | Approved by Jennifer Allen

Why is my SD card not showing up on my Mac computer? This question has given many Mac users a hard time. SD cards are used for storing documents, videos, and pictures among others. To access these files, you need to plug them into a computer and preview them through the PC. Unfortunately, you may find yourself in a situation where the SD card not showing up Mac (Big Sur).

When this happens, the next step is to look for how to fix the issue. The first thing to understand is that older Mac computers have an SD card slot. However, the newer versions require that you have an external reader to access the SD card.

Either way, it is possible to have a situation where SD card files not showing up on Mac. In this post, we will look at how to resolve the issue you might have with your SD card not showing on your PC and how to recover data from your SD card.

How to Fix SD Card not showing up on Mac

Solution 1. Check the Connection

When the SD card is inserted into your Mac PC, it may not show up immediately. Sometimes, it requires a while for it to show up. Therefore, you should give it a couple of minutes. If it does not show up still, you need to check if the SD card is properly connected to your Mac PC.

  1. Pull out the SD card and reboot your macOS.
  2. Reinsert the SD card properly and wait for a few minutes for your computer to find the card.

If the problem is with the connection, this should answer the question of why is my SD card not showing up on Mac?

Solution 2. Check Finder and Desktop Preferences

If the first solution does not work, the next step is to try to find the SD card in the Finder or desktop. You can make your SD card show up on your Mac through Finder.

  1. Click to open ‘Finder
  2. Locate and click on ‘Finder Preferences
  3. Check the top menu and select the Sidebar tab. Next, locate ‘External Disks’ under ‘Devices
  4. From here, launch ‘Finder’ and search for the SD card on the ‘Finder’ sidebar.

You can also check the SD card using Desktop preference. Usually, the SD card should show up on your desktop by default. If this does not happen, follow the steps below to locate it.

  1. Open the ‘Finder’ app
  2. Locate the ‘General’ tab and set the ‘Preferences to show ‘External Disks’ on the desktop.
  3. This should show the SD card on your desktop.

If these two solutions do not work and you still have the issue of the SD card adapter not showing up on Mac, you can try the next solution.

Solution 3. Unlock SD Card Physically

Some SD card has a lock/unlock part. You or someone else may have mistakenly locked the card. When this happens, you will experience the problem of SD card photos not showing up on Mac. Until you unlock it, you will be unable to access the SD card on any computer system. Follow the steps to unlock your SD card physically.

  1. Unplug the SD card from your Mac computer
  2. Check the sides of the SD card to locate the lock/unlock button.
  3. Manually switch the button to unlock it and insert the SD card into your computer again.

If the problem is because the SD card is physically locked, these steps should resolve it. If the problem is still not solved, move to the next solution.

Solution 4. Mount SD Card in Disk Utility

If you have tried the above solutions and your SD card is still unreadable, you should consider mounting the card through Disk Utility to resolve the issue.

  1. Type ‘Disk Utility’ in the search box to access the feature. You can also use ‘Command + Space’.
  2. Choose the memory card at the left pane and wait for the details to be displayed on the right pane.
  3. At the top of the pane, locate and click on ‘Mount’ to mount the SD card.

With this, you should be able to view the SD card on your PC. If you are still unable to see the card or the files on the SD card not showing up Mac issue persists, use the next solution option.

Solution 5. Reset NVRAM/PRAM

Non-volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM) and Parameter RAM (PRAM) are memory levels used by Mac to store and easily access some settings. Resetting both are the same. When you can’t see files on an SD card in Mac, it may be that the startup disk selection is not working appropriately. If this is the case, then you can reset NVRAM/PRAM.

  1. Shut down the Mac computer and turn it on. Press and hold ‘Option + Command + P + R’ together immediately after turning on the computer.
  2. Release the keys after twenty seconds and wait for your Mac to restart
  3. After the startup process, click to open ‘System Preferences’ and adjust the settings for disk selection.
  4. Insert your SD card again to view it.

Solution 6. Repair SD Card via First Aid

The reason you are experiencing ‘SD card not showing up in Disk Utility’ can be because the card is corrupted. You do not have to worry though. You can carry out a first aid check on Disk Utility to resolve the issue.

  1. Launch ‘Disk Utility’ and select ‘SD Card’ from the left pane.
  2. Click on ‘First Aid’ and wait for Utility to perform the check and verify the content of the SD card.
  3. Click ‘Repair at the bottom right to start the repair process for the ‘SD card’

If the SD card is completely damaged, the Disk Utility may not repair the damage. If this is the case, it will prompt you to backup data on your card and format the SD card. If you Mac files show zero bytes error, you can also try this solution.

Solution 7. Format SD Card to Fix File System Contradiction

Step 1. If the SD card is displayed in Disk Utility while you can't access it, then it may be caused by the file system incompatibility. In this case, you need to format the SD card and choose the right file system which is compatible with macOS. Please note that formatting will cause all files on the SD card removed. So, you should recover data from the card before you format it to avoid losing data. Here, we recommend the iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac. It is a 100% safe and secure free Mac SD card data recovery tool that is designed to restore deleted or lost data completely from different storage devices, such as notebooks, desktops SD cards, USB drives, etc.

  1. Download and install the software. Next, click the Start button.
  2. Select the your SD card and click ‘Scan’.
  3. After the scan, click ‘Recover’ to save the find files to Mac or another drive.

Step 2. When you are done with the recovery process, you can proceed to format the SD card to a macOS-compatible file system. This will resolve the issue of photos not showing up on Mac from the SD card. Here are the steps to format your USB flash drive.

  1. Navigate to the Disk Utility menu and select ‘Drive
  2. Click on the ‘Erase’ icon at the top. This will bring a list of options. Here, you can selet MS-DOS(FAT), ExFAT, APFS, etc file system and rename your drive name.
  3. Next, click the ‘Erase’ botton and wait for a few seconds or minutes to completely format the SD card. The size of the content will determine how fast it will take to format.

This post has looked at different ways you can fix the issue of an SD card or external hard drive not showing up on Mac. Whatever is the reason you are experiencing the issue, one of the methods highlighted above should solve the problem. With this, you would not have to worry about the camera SD card not showing up on Mac again.