How to Fix It When SD Card is Not Showing up on Mac

So, your SD card doesn’t show up under Finder on Mac? It can be a very frustrating experience. The good news is that you can fix it by following a few steps like checking loose connections, changing Finder Preferences, or a simple reboot of your Mac. 

In my personal experience, I have almost always found the answer in one of the six steps that I’m going to share in this article. 

First things first, you will need to troubleshoot your problem. There has to be some reason why your SD card won’t show on your Mac. 

So, let’s look at the possible causes.

Why is Your SD Card Not Showing up On Your Mac?

Here is a list of common causes for this issue.

  • Your SD card might be damaged – After all, it is just a 32.0×24.0×2.1 mm card with a memory chip that’s even smaller. So, it is quite likely to be damaged easily. 
  • Your SD card reader may not work – If you suspect that there is an issue with your memory card reader, you can buy a new one (they’re quite cheap) to verify whether that is indeed the issue.
  • The data may be corrupted – Yes, it can happen. And in such a case, your entire SD card becomes unreadable by your device.
  • Your Mac may not support the file format – exFAT, FAT32, APFS, and HFS+ are all formats supported by the latest Mac operating systems. However, there are still many formats that are not supported.
  • Your Mac may be the problem – Yes, macOS is great. However, a malware attack can render them weaker, and that could be the beginning of some trouble for your SD card too.

What to Do When SD Card is Not Showing up on Mac 

I have put together this quick checklist that you can easily scan through and follow if your Mac is not reading your SD card at all. So, sit back and just breeze through this list. 

1. Basic Connection Check 

After you have inserted your card in the right manner (metal strip facing down in the direction of your Mac), if your SD card does not show up, then try repeating the same process with a different one.

  • Laptop or computer 
  • USB port 
  • Memory card reader 
  • Smart TV 

If that fails, then you move on to the next fix. 

2. Restart Your Mac

Sometimes, all it takes is a reboot. In fact, 8 out of 10 times, you can fix a problem, including the SD card not showing up, by restarting your Mac. 

3. Check Finder Preferences

Typically, an inserted SD card should be displayed on the desktop and on the sidebar of your Finder. If that doesn’t happen, then you might want to run through your Finder Preferences once again. 

  • Open Finder app. 
  • On the top left Menu bar, click on Finder and then Preferences.
  • Under General, ensure that you have checked External disks.
  • Repeat the same step under the Sidebar tab as well. 

If that doesn’t work either, then you can dig a little deeper. 

4. Check the Port 

If you’re using a memory card reader, then a USB is the interface that is going to help in the transfer of data from your SD card to your Mac. 

Sometimes, the USB daemon, the process which controls this interface, can stop working. That will result in your Mac not being able to read the SD card.

To fix this, you can simply restart your Mac. 

5. Check on Your SD Card Lock 

If your Mac does not recognize your SD card, it could be because it is locked. So, eject the card and ‘unlock’ it by moving the Lock switch (slider) up.

6. Check Disk Utility

If your SD card is not showing up on your Mac, you can check whether it is listed in Disk Utility. 

To access Disk Utility, go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Or just enter Command + Space and type ‘Disk Utility’ in the Spotlight search bar.

In Disk Utility, look for your card. If it is grayed out, then that means it needs to be mounted. So, go ahead and click on Mount and see whether it shows up on your Finder and Desktop. 

If your SD card is not even listed in Disk Utility, you might need to use First Aid to perform a check on your card. 

If Disk Utility alerts you of a possible failure, then you will need to back your data up and reformat your SD card.

7. Reformat Your SD Card 

If nothing else works, you will need to format your SD card wherein all data on your card is erased, and it is restored to its original state. However, a format doesn’t mean all is lost.

There are several free and reliable data recovery tools available that can help you recover data from your SD card and several other devices. 

How to Avoid SD Card Problems

At your end, make sure there is nothing wrong. So, keep these instructions in mind. 

  • Always buy a good (preferably branded) SD card. These do not use flash memory chips that generic SD cards use. 
  • Take that extra second to click on the ‘Eject’ button, when you’re done transferring data and using your SD card, and then remove your card. This will protect your card from data corruption and other problems. 
  • Physically protect your card from moisture and extreme heat or cold. Invest in a protective case if you can. 

There you have it. The next time you’re facing trouble with your SD card, simply refer to this checklist. First, understand what the problem is and if one solution doesn’t work, then try another one. 

In the worst case of your SD card needing a format, don’t worry. You can always use an SD card data recovery tool to recover the data.

So, did you fix the sd card not showing issue on your Mac? Which fix worked out? Leave a comment and let us know.

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