How to Recover Memory Card Data in Mac OS X

Disk Drill is memory card recovery software for Mac OS 10.5+. It can perform memory card data recovery for CompactFlash Cards, SD Cards (SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD), XD Cards, Sony Memory Sticks, MMC Cards - and virtually any other card your Mac can read.

Disk Drill can recover data from your memory card even if it was corrupted, reformatted or damaged. Still, as you probably know, there is a chance that your data is gone for good, since free memory card recovery for Mac depends on a lot of variables.

The good news is that Disk Drill allows you to scan a memory card and preview the recovered files for free. There is no need to upgrade to Disk Drill PRO until you are sure the files you need are recoverable. And Disk Drill will never write to your memory card during the recovery process, so it's really safe to use.

Read on for a quick overview of the steps for free memory card recovery on your Mac. For detailed tutorials, see How to Install Disk Drill and How to Recover Lost Files with Disk Drill Basic in our Knowledgebase.

#1 Things To Keep In Mind

Photo recovery from memory card: Keep in mind, the less you use the memory card you are going to recover your data from, the higher the chance of memory card recovery on your Mac are. Most cameras don't wipe pictures completely from your camera memory card on deletion or formatting. In most cases, only filenames and file properties are erased, and your photos and video data remain on the memory card until they are overwritten. If you simply erased files on your memory card right from your camera, Disk Drill has a very good chance of recovering them. However, if you took more pictures and saved them to the same card after the initial deletion, you may have overwritten your old data, making it unrecoverable.

Formatted memory card recovery: Even if your memory card can't be read by your Mac - if it's shown as having no partitions or logical structure and you get a message saying it requires formatting, try Deep Scan. It will drill down to the data sectors of your memory card on a binary level to search for remaining pictures, music or other recoverable data.

#2 Get Disk Drill

Disk Drill requires Mac OS 10.6.8 or newer to run and perform memory card data recovery. Once you've downloaded our memory card data recovery software and saved it to your Applications folder, launch it and follow these steps to complete memory card recovery with your Mac.

#3 Connect Your Camera or Card-Reader

Once your memory card is mounted to your Mac, you can start the memory card recovery process. Remember, that you have to mount your SD, compact flash, memory stick, or other card in mass storage mode. (It needs to appear as a disk in your Finder window.) If you can only communicate with the card via MTP-protocol, recovery will not be possible. Launch Disk Drill, find your mounted card in the list and select it.

#4 Scan Your Memory Card with Disk Drill

If you are new to memory card recovery on a Mac, the best option is to simply click the "Recover" button next to the name of your memory card. This will automatically go through each scanning method one by one.

But if you're an experienced user, just click the drop-down arrow on the Recover button to select the specific scan method you desire. If your memory card is formatted with an HFS+, FAT or NTFS file system, you can use Quick Scan to try and locate deleted files based on the data in your file system tables. This is fast, but won't be available for memory cards formatted in other file systems or in cases where there is more serious damage to your data than mere file erasure. If all you see is Deep Scan as an option, go for it. It will take more time to scan your memory card (especially if it's 32 GB or bigger) but it is the most comprehensive.

#5 Memory Card Recovery: Final Step!

Once the scanning is complete. You will see the list of files Disk Drill's memory card data recovery software has located. Deep Scan will be able to recognize many file formats when scanning your memory card in binary mode, including JPG, PNG, TIFF, MOV, MP4, and many RAW camera formats.

Find the files from the list that you are interested in and click the "eye" icon to preview them. Previewing them is the only way to ensure that they are not corrupt! Be sure to watch videos all the way through. When done previewing, select items you need recovered from your card, click the Recover button and follow the instructions.

That's it. You are done using our memory card recovery software for Mac. Now you are free to format your memory card and use it again, as you have all available lost data recovered!

Is memory card recovery available for Windows? Of course, here's our data recovery app for PC.

I had some .mpg files on a camcorder (Sony Handycam DCR-SR42) that had disappeared. At first Disk Drill couldn't see the files. However, the developer personally worked with me and was able to update their program so that it could detect the file! - Paul7