Which iMac has an SD card slot?

When looking to purchase an iMac, one feature that may be important to consider is whether the model has an SD card slot. An SD card slot allows you to easily transfer photos and videos from a camera’s memory card onto the iMac for editing, storage, and sharing. However, not all iMac models are equipped with this media card reader, so it’s important to research which ones have it before deciding on a specific model to buy.

What is an SD card slot?

An SD card slot is a built-in media reader that allows you to insert SD memory cards and access their contents. SD cards are commonly used in digital cameras and camcorders to store photos, videos, and other media files. The SD card slot gives you a quick and convenient way to pull this content off the card and onto your iMac. The media reader supports standard SD, SDHC, and SDXC card formats.

Why would you want an SD card slot on an iMac?

Here are some of the main reasons an SD card slot can be beneficial on an iMac:

  • Quickly transfer photos/videos from camera – You can directly import files to apps like Photos or Preview.
  • View and edit media files immediately – The ability to access cards makes it easy to view, edit and work with your media after shooting.
  • Free up storage on camera memory cards – Once files are transferred over, you can clear the cards to reuse for future photos/recordings.
  • Convenient backup of important media – Photos and videos can be backed up to the iMac’s storage for safekeeping.
  • No need for external USB card reader device – The built-in slot eliminates the need for a separate media card reader accessory.

Having the ability to easily plug media cards directly into the iMac makes it much more convenient for managing, viewing, editing, and backing up photo, video, and media files from cameras and other devices. For anyone who regularly works with these types of files, the integrated SD card reader can be extremely useful.

iMac Models with SD Card Slot

Unfortunately, not all iMacs come equipped with a built-in SDXC card slot. This interface was first added to the iMac lineup in 2010. Since then, Apple has only included it on certain models. Here are the iMacs that contain SD card readers:

iMac Model SD Card Slot
iMac G3 & G4 (1998 – 2004) No
iMac G5 (2004 – 2006) No
iMac (Mid 2007) No
iMac (Early 2009) No
iMac (Late 2009) Yes
iMac (Mid 2010) Yes
iMac (Mid 2011) Yes
iMac (Late 2012) Yes
iMac (Late 2013) Yes
iMac with Retina 5K Display (Late 2014 – Current) No

As the table illustrates, SD card slots were first added to the 27-inch iMac line with the Late 2009 model. They continued to be included in subsequent 27-inch iMac releases from 2010 to 2013. However, in 2014 Apple discontinued the interface with the introduction of the ultra thin iMac with Retina 5K display.

Since then, none of the current iMacs are offered with SD card readers. So if you require an SD slot, your only options are to purchase an older 27-inch iMac produced between 2009 and 2013 that includes the feature, or get an external USB media card reader device.

External USB Card Reader Options

If you decide to go the external media reader route, there are many compact and affordable options available. Here are some of the best SD card readers for iMacs:

  • Apple USB-C to SD Card Reader – $39 – Official Apple accessory ideal for new Macs with USB-C ports.
  • Anker USB 3.0 SD Card Reader – $14 – Supports USB 3.0 transfer speeds up to 5Gbps.
  • ProGrade USB-C Dual Slot Reader – $30 – Reads SD and CF cards, made for creative pros.
  • Satechi USB-C SD Card Reader – $25 – Sleek aluminum design, designed for Macs.
  • Belkin USB-C Media Reader – $30 – Supports SD, microSD, CF, and more.

These handy options plug into your iMac’s USB port and provide quick access to any media card. Most card readers are small enough to throw in your bag and require no external power, making them easy to take on the go.

Chooser Adapter for Older iMacs

If you have an older 27-inch iMac from 2009-2012 that has an SDXC card slot, but with the larger full-size SD interface, you can purchase a passive “chooser” adapter to allow you to use the newer smaller SD cards. These adapters convert the SD slot to microSD. Brands like HyperDrive and Uni makeChooser adapters that enable full compatibility.

Wireless Media Card Readers

Another alternative if your iMac lacks a built-in media card reader is to get a wireless memory card reader. These devices create their own Wi-Fi network that allows you to wirelessly transfer files from the card to your iMac or iOS devices. Some popular options include:

  • WD My Passport Wireless Pro
  • TeraDak Flash Drive
  • Eyoyo Dual Band Wireless Reader
  • RAVPower FileHub Media Streamer

Wireless readers provide more flexibility allowing you to access the contents from anywhere within Wi-Fi range. However they are more expensive than standard wired readers.


In summary, the 27-inch iMac models sold between late 2009 and late 2013 are the only current iMacs that contain SD card slots. All other iMacs require using an external USB media card reader or wireless reader to be able to access SD card content. For professional photographers, videographers, and creative pros who regularly need to offload media cards, having the built-in SD card reader on the older 27-inch iMacs is a big advantage.

However external USB 3.0 card readers offer pretty fast transfer speeds and are inexpensive accessories. Wireless media readers also provide more flexibility for accessing cards from anywhere, but are pricier. So there are good options available if you have your heart set on a current iMac model. But for the absolute most convenience, the older 27-inch iMacs with integrated SDXC slots allow directly plugging in media cards to quickly import and manage photos, videos, and files.

Hopefully this overview gives you a better understanding of which iMac models contain SD card readers. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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