Why can’t I see my SD card on my Mac?

If you’re trying to access files on an SD card using your Mac but can’t see the SD card, there are a few potential reasons and solutions to try.

Quick Fixes to Try

Here are some quick things to check if your SD card is not showing up on your Mac:

  • Make sure the SD card is properly inserted into the SD card slot on your Mac. It should click into place.
  • Try removing and reinserting the SD card to make sure it’s making proper contact.
  • Inspect the SD card slot for any obstructions like dust or dirt and clean it out with compressed air if needed.
  • Use a different SD card if you have one available to test if the issue is with a specific card.
  • Try your SD card in a different device like a camera or phone to see if the card is recognized there.
  • Restart your Mac to reset any software issues that could be preventing access to the SD card.

Check Disk Utility

The next step is to open Disk Utility on your Mac and check if the SD card shows up there. Disk Utility lists all connected drives so if your SD card shows up, you know your Mac recognizes it.

To open Disk Utility:

  1. Click on the Apple menu and select “Disk Utility”.
  2. Look in the left sidebar for your SD card listed under External Drives.
  3. If you see it, try mounting the SD drive by clicking the Mount button.

If your SD card is listed in Disk Utility but just isn’t mounted, mounting it should make it accessible in the Finder so you can view the contents.

Try Manually Mounting the SD Card

If your SD card isn’t showing up in Disk Utility, try manually mounting it using the command line:

  1. Open the Terminal app (under Applications > Utilities).
  2. Type diskutil list and press Return to list all connected drives.
  3. Look for your SD card listed. It will likely have a disk identifier like /dev/disk2.
  4. Type sudo diskutil mountDisk /dev/diskX replacing “diskX” with your SD card’s disk number.
  5. Enter your admin password when prompted.

This should attempt to mount your SD card. If successful, you should then see it in the Finder and be able to access the files.

Reset NVRAM to Detect SD Card

Resetting your Mac’s NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) can sometimes resolve issues with external drives not being detected:

  1. Shut down your Mac completely.
  2. Turn it back on and immediately press and hold Command + Option + P + R.
  3. Keep holding down the keys until you hear the startup chime a second time.
  4. Let go and allow your Mac to finish booting up.

Now when you insert the SD card, your Mac should detect it and mount it automatically.

Enable External Drive Access

If your SD card shows up in Disk Utility but remains unmountable, the issue may be related to external drive access settings.

To enable full Disk Utility access:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy tab.
  2. Click the lock icon in the bottom left corner and enter your password.
  3. Under Full Disk Access, click the + icon.
  4. Select Disk Utility from the applications list.
  5. Also add Terminal to the full disk access list if not already added.

This grants Disk Utility the access it needs to be able to mount and interact fully with external drives including SD cards.

Check Finder Preferences

Finder is the default app used to access mounted drives on your Mac. If Finder runs into issues or has incorrect preferences set, it could potentially fail to recognize your connected SD card.

To check your Finder settings:

  1. Go to Finder > Preferences.
  2. Under General, make sure that “External disks” is checked to show on the desktop.
  3. Click on Sidebar and confirm that “External disks” is checked.
  4. Remove and reinsert your SD card to see if it now shows up.

You can also try toggling the Finder settings related to external drives off and on again to reset them.

Check System Information

The System Information app provides detailed hardware and peripheral connectivity information for your Mac.

To see if your Mac is detecting the SD card here:

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > System Information.
  2. Click on USB in the sidebar to view info on connected devices.
  3. Insert your SD card and see if it shows up in the USB device list.

If you don’t see it listed, your Mac isn’t recognizing the SD card hardware. If it is listed, that points to a software issue instead.

Inspect SD Card in Another Device

At this point, it’s a good idea to try your SD card in another device like a camera, phone, or different computer. This helps you rule out any issues with the card itself.

If the card works fine and is detected in other devices, then the problem lies with your Mac. If the card has issues being detected elsewhere, it’s likely a corrupted card.

On Windows PCs, you can run the Error Checking tool to scan for and repair any corruption on the SD card. On Macs, you can use Disk Utility’s First Aid feature for troubleshooting.

Check Condition of SD Card

Damaged SD cards may fail to be detected by Macs or other devices. Here are some signs of potential SD card damage to look out for:

  • Physical cracks, dents, or bends in the card casing
  • Corrosion from water damage or oxidation
  • Burn or melt marks indicating heat damage
  • “X” displayed on camera or card reader instead of storage capacity

If you suspect physical damage, the safest course of action is to replace the damaged SD card with a new one.

Update macOS and Card Reader Software

Outdated system software can sometimes cause peripheral devices like SD cards to be undetected.

To update macOS and your SD card reader drivers:

  1. Click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  2. Click Software Update and install any macOS updates that are available.
  3. Check the support site for your Mac model for updated card reader drivers you can install.
  4. After updating, restart your computer and try your SD card again.

Keeping your system and software updated improves compatibility with SD cards and accessories.

Change SD Card Format

While Macs can read different SD card formats, in rare cases formatting conflicts can prevent detection.

If your SD card previously worked but suddenly stopped being recognized, try reformatting it:

  1. Back up any data on the card first that you need to keep.
  2. Using Disk Utility, select your SD card drive.
  3. Click Erase in the toolbar and choose a compatible format like FAT32 or exFAT.
  4. Title the card and click Erase to reformat it.

This wipes and reformats the SD card to resolve any formatting issues causing connection problems.

SD Card Tips to Prevent Issues

Following proper SD card handling and care can prevent many issues that could lead to detection problems:

  • Avoid touching the gold contacts on SD cards to prevent corrosion.
  • Insert cards carefully without forcing them into slots.
  • Disconnect from computer before removing to avoid data loss.
  • Store cards in protective cases when not in use.
  • Don’t expose cards to liquids, heat, or bending.
  • Reformat periodically to clear any developing file system issues.

Treating SD cards with care will maximize their lifespan and compatibility.

SD Card Reader Not Working

If your SD card is being detected in other devices but not your Mac, the issue may be with your Mac’s built-in SD card reader.

Some troubleshooting steps for an unresponsive card reader include:

  • Inspect reader for any debris or damage and clean with compressed air.
  • Try gently reseating the reader cable connected to the logic board.
  • Use a different reader like a USB-C or USB-A adapter.
  • On MacBooks, try reading the SD card when powered off in Target Disk Mode.
  • Test with different SD cards to isolate issues with one specific card.

If multiple cards fail to work, then the reader itself has likely failed and needs to be repaired or replaced.

SD Card Not Showing Full Capacity

On occasion, an SD card may show up on your Mac but with reduced capacity or missing files. This can happen if the file system gets corrupted.

Steps to take in this situation:

  1. Copy any data you need off the SD card immediately.
  2. Open Disk Utility and run First Aid on the card to check for errors.
  3. Use a tool like fsck in Terminal to repair any filesystem damage.
  4. Reformat the card to exFAT or FAT32 to fully reset the file system.
  5. If errors persist, the SD card may be damaged and need replacing.

This should resolve any software corruption causing missing capacity. If issues remain, hardware damage is likely at fault.

Contact Apple Support

If you still cannot get your SD card to appear on your Mac after trying the troubleshooting steps above, contacting Apple Support is recommended as a next course of action:

  • Use Apple Support app on device to message or call for assistance.
  • Visit Get Support on Apple’s website and select SD card issue.
  • Book a Genius Bar appointment at Apple Store for hands-on help.
  • Provide accurate details on troubleshooting done and error messages.

Apple Support can run diagnostics, test hardware, and suggest replacement parts if needed. They have additional tools and resources for resolving detection issues with SD cards and other peripherals.


While SD cards not appearing on a Mac can be frustrating, the issue can typically be resolved through systematic troubleshooting. Check card seating, try different readers, inspect for damage, update software, reformat, and contact Apple Support if the problem persists. Proper handling and care of your SD cards also helps minimize connectivity problems over time. With the right steps, you can get your SD card showing up properly again on your Mac.