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Fix SD Card Not Showing Up, Recognizing on Mac [15 Ways]

Home > HowTos Updated by Nancy on July 17, 2024 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

Why is my SD card not showing up on Mac? Don't worry; this common issue has some simple fixes. In this guide, we'll walk you through why your SD card might be invisible and how to get it working again.

Why Your Memory Card Might Be Invisible

Understanding why your Mac won't recognize the SD card is the first step to troubleshooting the issue effectively. Here are some common reasons:

  • 💢 Connection Issues
  • A poor connection might be the culprit. Dust or debris in the card slot can prevent contact between the memory card and your Mac.
  • ⚙️ Incorrect settings
  • Accidentally changing specific macOS settings, like hardware configuration, NVRAM, or PRAM, can cause your MacBook not to read the SD card.
  • ⚠️ Memory Card Failure
  • Improper ejection, failed initialization, or incomplete formatting can corrupt your memory card's file system, making it not show up on Mac.
  • 🚫 Software Conflicts
  • If your Mac operating system or applications are outdated or the drivers are faulty, the SD card may not appear.
  • 🧩 Physical Damage
  • This is the most serious problem. If your card is dropped or exposed to extreme conditions, then its firmware may be corrupted and cannot be detected by Mac.

Initial Checks Before Troubleshooting

Before we discuss more in-depth solutions, let's perform some basic checks. These simple measures can sometimes solve the problem of the iMac or MacBook SD card not showing up without further troubleshooting.

  1. Check the SD Card Slot

    The first step is inspecting the card slot for dust or debris. You can try to clear out the particles that are blocking the connection to make it work properly.

  2. Ensure Proper Insertion

    Align the card correctly and push it in until it clicks into place. Sometimes, it's just a matter of a slight misalignment.

  3. Try Another Memory Card

    If possible, test another card on your Mac. This can help determine whether the issue is with the SD card or the Mac. Alternatively, you can use another computer.

When basic detection fails to resolve Mac not recognizing SD card, you can proceed to more specific troubleshooting.

How to Fix SD Card Not Showing Up on Mac Desktop/Finder But In Disk Utility

Incorrect settings or memory card logic errors often cause this issue. Fortunately, fixing it is quick and easy. However, to avoid data corruption during the repair process, back up or use the following free tool to retrieve them.

  • Free File Recovery Software for Mac

    Recover data from your SD card for free, even if it does not show up, is corrupted, and more.

  • Download

Method 1: Check the physical switch of the SD card (if Any)

Certain memory cards come with a physical switch that protects your data. If the status is locked, your Mac won't recognize the SD card. To fix this, unplug the card and check if the switch is unlocked.

Method 2: Safely Eject and Restart Your Mac

Sometimes, restarting you Maccan resolve this issue. After safely ejecting the SD card, click the "Apple" icon in the top left corner and select "Restart." This can often fix minor software glitches that might be causing the issue.

Method 3: Check Finder Preferences

SD card does not show up on Mac, which may be caused by accidentally changing this setting. To fix this, you can do the following:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on "Finder" in the top menu bar, then select "Settings/Preferences."

  3. In the "General" tab, ensure "External disks" are checked.

  4. Switch to the "Sidebar" and ensure it is checked.

This ensures that your SD card will appear in Finder and Desktop when connected.

Method 4: Use Disk Utility

It is a powerful tool for managing drives that allows you to view the status of your memory card and fix related errors.

A. Use the Mount Option

If your SD card is greyed out, try the following steps to mount it manually.

  1. Open Disk Utility from Applications > Utilities.

  2. Look for your SD card in the left sidebar and select it.
  3. Click "Mount" from the top menu.

B. Run First Aid

If your SD card shows up in Disk Utility but isn't functioning correctly, use the First Aid feature to check for errors:

  1. Select the SD card in Disk Utility.
  2. Click the "First Aid" button.

  3. Click "Run" and follow the on-screen instructions.

Method 5: Try Terminal Commands

When your SD card not showing up on Mac, using Terminal can be an effective way to diagnose and fix the issue. Here are steps:

  1. Go to 'Applications' > 'Utilities' > 'Terminal.'
  2. Open this app and type the following command.

    "diskutil list" and press Enter. Look for your SD card in the list. It will typically appear as "/dev/disk2 or 3."
    "sudo diskutil mountDisk /dev/disk#" (replace "/dev/diskdisk#" with the correct identifier) and press Enter.
    To check for errors, type "diskutil verifyDisk /dev/disk#"
    If errors are found, type "sudo diskutil repairDisk /dev/disk#" to attempt repairs.

Tip: The above method is also effective on how to speed up USB transfer on Mac.

Method 6: Reformat Your Card

If all the methods to fix a Mac not recognizing an SD card have failed, then you can only format it. However, this will erase all the stored data, so before you start, use the following method to recover them.

  1. Open Disk Utility.
  2. Select your SD card and click "Erase."
  3. Rename it and select the file system as "FAT32 or EXFAT."

  4. Finally, click "Erase" to complete the process.

Tip: Here are detailed instructions on how to format an SD card on other platforms.

How to Fix iMac/Macbook SD Card Not Showing Up in Disk Utility

If the basic and system-level checks don't resolve the issue, it might be time to dig deeper. These advanced troubleshooting steps can help identify and fix more complex problems.

Method 1: Reset SMC and PRAM/NVRAM

Resetting them can resolve various issues on your Mac, including the SD card not detected on Mac. Below are the steps for performing these resets.

A. Resetting SMC

For Macs with Apple Silicon (M1 chip and later):

There is no dedicated SMC for Macs with Apple Silicon. Please shut down your Mac and wait 30 seconds before turning it back on.

For Intel-based Macs (Desktops and Laptops)


  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Unplug the power cord.
  3. Wait for 15 seconds.
  4. Plug the power cord back in.
  5. Wait 5 seconds, then press the power button to turn on your Mac.

Laptops without a removable battery:

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Press and hold "Shift + Control + Option" on the left side and the power button simultaneously on the built-in keyboard.
  3. Hold all keys and the power button for 10 seconds.
  4. Release all keys, then press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

Laptop with a removable battery:

  1. Shut down your Mac and remove the battery.
  2. After holding the Power button for 5 seconds, then reinstalling the battery.
  3. Turn on your Mac.

B. Resetting PRAM/NVRAM

  1. After shutting down your computer, turn it on immediately.
  2. Hold "Option + Command + P + R" keys for about 20 seconds.
  3. You may hear a startup sound twice or see the Apple icon appear and disappear twice.
  4. Release the keys and allow your Mac to continue starting up.

Method 2: Reload the USB process

MacOS relies on background processes to ensure the normal operation of software and hardware. If this process crashes, your SD card does not show on your Mac. To re-run it, follow the following steps.

  1. Open the terminal.
  2. Type "sudo launchctl stop" and press Enter.
  3. Type your Mac login password.
  4. Type "sudo launchctl start" and press Enter.

Method 3: Check for Update

Sometimes, software compatibility issues can cause your Mac not to recognize the SD card. To fix this, go to "System Preferences > General > Software Update" to check updates and install them.

Method 4: Check System Information

In some cases, the SD card not reading on Mac may be caused by firmware issues. For this reason, you can check its information to troubleshoot.

  1. Click the Apple menu after holding the "Option" key.
  2. Click "System Information"
  3. Switch to "Card Reader" to view relevant information.

Tip: If no information, such as vendor ID, is displayed, the firmware may be damaged. To do this, go to the next solution.

Method 5: Seek an SD Card Provider for Help

If you have tried all the above solutions and your SD card still cannot be detected, your device may be physically damaged. In this case, you may need to seek professional help.

How to Recover Data from a Normal, Corrupted, or Not Show-Up SD Card on Mac

No matter the reason, losing or being unable to access important files on your memory card can be stressful, but don't panic! With iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac, you can retrieve them easily. Here are the detailed steps:

  1. Download and install iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac.
  2. Launch it and select your SD card from the list of drives.
  3. Click "Scan" to search for recoverable files.

  4. Review the found files and select those you wish to recover.
  5. Click "Recover" and save the files to a secure location.

How to Avoid Such Incidents from Happening Again

Once you've resolved the SD card not showing up on Mac, taking preventative measures can help avoid future problems. Here are some tips:


Having an SD card not show up on a Mac can be frustrating, but the above methods can help resolve the issue. From initial checks to advanced troubleshooting, understanding the potential causes and solutions is key. Finally, regular maintenance and proper handling of the card and Mac can prevent many common issues. Happy troubleshooting!


  • First, try inserting your SD card into another device to see if it's recognized. If it works elsewhere, the issue is likely with your Mac. Also, try another SD card to check if the card reader functions correctly.

  • There could be several reasons why your SD card is not being recognized:

    1. Faulty SD Card
    2. Dirty or Damaged Slot
    3. Formatting Issues
    4. Software Glitches
  • This might be due to your Finder preferences. Go to Finder > Preferences > General and ensure "External disks" are checked. This will make your SD card appear on your desktop when connected.

    1. Open Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility).
    2. Select your SD card from the list on the left.
    3. Click "First Aid" and follow the prompts to repair the disk.

    If that fails, click "Erase" and choose the format (usually exFAT or MS-DOS (FAT) for compatibility). Then click "Erase" to reformat.

  • You can go to Disk Utility and select your card. Then click the "Erase" button and choose a format compatible with macOS (e.g., FAT32 or ExFAT).

    WARNING: This will erase all data on your SD card, so back up any important files first.

  • Best recovery software for Mac like iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac or Disk Drill can be used.

    1. Clean the card and reader
    2. Try a different reader
    3. Test on another device