Which iMac has an SD card slot?

Apple’s iMac is an all-in-one desktop computer that combines the monitor, processor, graphics card, storage, memory and more into a single, sleek device. Over the years, Apple has released many different models of the iMac, each with varying features and specifications.

One feature that some iMac models have included is an SD card slot. This allows users to easily insert SD memory cards from cameras and other devices to transfer photos, videos and other files to the iMac. However, not all iMacs have come equipped with a built-in SD card slot.

iMac Models with an SD Card Slot

Here are the iMac models that include an SD card slot:

  • iMac G5 (2005)
  • iMac (Mid 2007)
  • iMac (Early 2009)
  • iMac (Late 2009)
  • iMac (Mid 2010)
  • iMac (Mid 2011)
  • iMac (Late 2012)
  • iMac (Late 2013)
  • iMac with Retina 5K display (2014)
  • iMac with Retina 4K display (2015)

The original iMac G5, released in 2005, was the first model to include an SD card slot. Apple continued to include SD card slots on new iMac releases through 2015.

iMac Models without an SD Card Slot

Here are some of the iMac models that do not have an SD card slot:

  • iMac G3 (1998-2003)
  • iMac G4 (2002-2004)
  • iMac (Early 2006)
  • iMac (Mid 2006)
  • iMac (Early 2008)
  • iMac (Early 2013)
  • iMac with Retina 4K display (2017-present)

Apple stopped including SD card slots starting with the 2017 iMac redesign. The current iMac lineup, with 21.5-inch and 27-inch 4K and 5K Retina displays, no longer has an SD card slot. This was removed as part of Apple’s transition towards USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Why Did Apple Remove the SD Card Slot?

There are a few reasons why Apple may have decided to drop the SD card slot from the iMac starting in 2017:

  • Declining usage – With the rise of smartphones, cloud storage, wireless transfers, and adapters, SD card slots became less necessary for many users.
  • Space savings – Removing the slot allowed for a slimmer iMac profile and more room for other components.
  • Encourage USB-C adoption – The USB-C ports on the new iMacs allow for easy adapters to SD cards when needed.
  • Simplify manufacturing – Removing the slot reduced complexity and costs associated with including it.

While the omission is inconvenient for some photographers and other users who still rely on SD cards, Apple felt the benefits outweighed keeping the aging slot. The USB-C ports allow users to connect SD card readers when the slot is needed.

Workarounds for the Lack of SD Card Slot

For those with an iMac lacking an SD card slot, there are a few options to transfer photos and files from SD cards:

  • USB card reader – An inexpensive USB-C or USB 3.0 card reader can be plugged into the iMac’s USB ports.
  • External drive – Use an external USB hard drive or SSD with a built-in SD card reader.
  • Wireless transfer – Use a wireless technology like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to transfer files from the SD card to the iMac.
  • Cloud storage – Upload files from the SD card to cloud storage like iCloud or Dropbox to retrieve on the iMac.
  • MacBook Pro – Use a MacBook Pro with SD slot to transfer files temporarily.

While not as convenient as a built-in SD slot, these options provide alternative ways to get photos and files from an SD card onto a new iMac. Picking up a basic USB-C SD card reader is quick, easy, and inexpensive.

SD Card Slot Unlikely to Return

Given that Apple has removed the SD card slot from all of its current Mac lineup, including both iMacs and MacBooks, it unfortunately seems unlikely that it will return in future models.

Apple is continuing to promote USB-C and wireless connectivity options instead. An SD card slot takes up precious internal space that Apple is using for larger batteries, improved cooling, and other components.

Unless there is a major shift back towards local photo and file storage on SD cards, Apple will probably keep the SD slot off its desktop and laptop computers going forward.

For now, anyone needing SD card access on a new iMac will have to utilize one of the workarounds mentioned above. While less convenient, they do provide alternative ways to transfer photos and files.


In summary, the last iMac model to include an SD card slot was the 2015 iMac with 4K Retina display. Starting with the 2017 redesign, Apple removed the SD card slot from all iMacs.

Older iMacs from 2005 to 2015 equipped SD card slots for easy photo and file transfers. But with the rise of wireless technology and USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, Apple decided the legacy slot was no longer needed.

While inconvenient for some users, inexpensive USB card readers, wireless transfers, external drives and other workarounds exist to bridge the gap. Unless wireless and cloud storage see a major reversal, it’s likely the SD card slot will remain a relic of the past on the iMac.

For the best combination of design, performance, and modern connectivity, the current 24-inch and 27-inch iMacs are excellent choices. Just be prepared to utilize adapters or external readers when needing access to SD cards.

iMac Model SD Card Slot
iMac G3 (1998-2003) No
iMac G4 (2002-2004) No
iMac G5 (2005) Yes
iMac (Early 2006) No
iMac (Mid 2007) Yes
iMac (Early 2008) No
iMac (Early 2009) Yes
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 (2014) Yes
iMac with Retina 4K display (2015) Yes
iMac with Retina 4K display (2017-present) No

This table summarizes which iMac models, both older and newer, have included an SD card slot and which have not. As you can see, SD card slots were common on iMacs from 2005-2015 but then were removed from 2016 onward.

For photographers and others needing access to SD cards, having an SD slot built right into an all-in-one iMac is very convenient. But with their removal, users now need to utilize wireless transfers, cloud storage, or USB adapters to migrate files and photos.

Apple’s focus on sleeker design, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, and wireless connectivity led them to discard the SD card slot starting with the 2017 iMac redesign. And it appears highly unlikely to return in future models unless Apple has a major change of plans.

So for now, owners of the latest iMacs need to adapt to this missing feature. Thankfully there are enough workarounds to access SD cards and transfer files when needed, even if an integrated slot would be preferred.

Going forward, Apple may eventually replace the SD card slot on MacBooks and iMacs with something new entirely, like UFS card readers. But SD itself looks to be a legacy feature Apple has moved on from, for better or worse.

The iconic all-in-one iMac will surely continue to evolve with cutting edge designs, processors, GPUs and screen technology. But the days of built-in SD card access now appear relegated to older Macs. For a new iMac, an external USB-C SD reader will be required.

So for creatives and photographers still reliant on SD cards, purchasing the right adapter or reader is now essential when buying a new iMac. But thankfully there are quality and reliable options available to transfer photos and files via USB-C or USB 3.0 with fast speeds.

With elegant design and best-in-class performance, the iMac remains an excellent choice for many home and office needs. Lacking an SD card slot is an adjustment, but a minor inconvenience compared to all the power and capabilities packed into the stunning all-in-one form factor.

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