SD cards are often used as an extension of your electronic device’s internal storage. These small, external memory cards greatly expand your capacity to take and store numerous digital photos and videos. Swapping cards in and out can allow you to create extensive libraries of photographs to be viewed at your convenience. They afford users great flexibility in the amount of storage space they carry on their device and therefore the number of photos and videos that they can store.

Why Would I Need to Recover Deleted Photos From an SD Card?

As with all digital storage media, there is the possibility that at some time in your use of a digital camera, phone or other camera-equipped devices you will need to recover photos from an SD card:

  • ✅ You might need to enact an SD card photo recovery due to accidentally deleted photos or a simple mistaken click.
  • ☑️ Your SD card may have been formatted inadvertently or corrupted, making it impossible to access your photos. If these photos are important to you, these situations can be quite stressful.

selecting storage device to scan on mac

5 Ways to Recover Deleted Photos From an SD Card

Way 1: Recovering from Your Device’s Internal Memory or Storage

The first place to look for photos that you have deleted from an SD card is at your device’s internal memory or temporary storage on Mac or Windows PC. When you delete a photo on your device, it is logically deleted and its storage space is freed up for future use. It is not immediately physically removed from your SD card.

Depending on the type of device you have, accessing the memory card or area where recently lost photos are made available for recovery will differ. For example, if you were using an SD card on your Mac and you deleted some pictures, you would check either the Recently Deleted folder in the Photos app or your Trash can for the files.

Once you’ve opened the Photos app, navigate to the Recently Deleted folder and see if there are any photos. If so, you can move them back to the album of your choice. They will stay here for around 30 days which gives you time if you realize that you want something back.

recently deleted photos

A similar procedure can be used on Android devices and many other digital cameras and mobile devices. Technology is pretty smart and helps us out a lot. 🙂

Way 2: Recovering from a Backup

An SD card can be used for long-term storage of digital photos or for expanded capacity on a photographic device. If you have just taken a photo and then deleted it there was probably no time to have taken a backup of your photos. On the other hand, if it’s a card you use for transferring photos to be viewed on different devices and the pictures have been resident on the card for some time, it would be best for you to create a backup of those photos.

sd card

The manner in which you choose to back up the photos that live on your SD card are totally up to you. You might use Time Machine or iCloud to protect SD cards used with your iOS devices. However, I would strongly recommend that you use iCloud as it’s wireless and you don’t have to remember to back up your device.

When you plug your iPhone in to charge and it’s connected to Wi-Fi, it will start backing up on its own. You don’t even have to remember to initiate the backup process.

Apple has a create walkthrough on how to use Time Machine as well which you can view here.

Whatever way you choose to use, making backups of your data is not something that is restricted to desktop and laptop machines. You should be backing up the data on your mobile devices and that includes any photos that you may have imported to them from an SD card.

time machine

Again, your exact procedure will vary based on the type of backups that you perform. Whether you have backed up to the cloud or an external storage device, there is a secure feeling that comes with knowing that you can recover all of your precious memories at any time.

Way 3: Recovering from a Cloud Backup

Android users have it great because they can not only tell their smartphones to store photos on a removable SD card, but they can also take advantage of apps like OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Photos to back up everything to the cloud.

If that’s your case, then you should be able to recover each and every deleted photo just by downloading it from your cloud storage service of choice. Best of all, you can do so from anywhere and on any device, so this method can save you even if your original device has become stolen or lost.

Recovering from a Cloud Backup

Use the following links to see official guides on how to download files from popular cloud storage services:

Do you use a different cloud backup app and are not sure how to download your deleted photos from it? Then we recommend you consult Google and look for a suitable guide.

Way 4: Recovering Using an Android Data Recovery App

If you need to recover deleted photos from an SD card that was used to expand the storage space of your Android smartphone or tablet, then you can use an Android data recovery app like DiskDigger photo recovery.

To recover deleted photos with DiskDigger:

  1. Download the app from the Play Store.
  2. Launch it and scan your SD card (usually appears as “/mnt/sdcard” or something similar).select storage device
  3. Specify the file types you would like to search for and tap file types
  4. Choose the files you want to files for recover
  5. Tap the Recover button to save them to your recover destination

For the best results, your device should be rooted, and you should use DiskDigger Pro instead of the free version. Still, don’t expect to find as many deleted photos as with desktop data recovery software like Disk Drill, which we describe next.

Way 5: Recovering with the use of data recovery software

Sometimes, neither of the above solutions are appropriate for your situation. In this case, we can now use Disk Drill to recover the photos from our SD Card.

Disk Drill is a data recovery app that will help us get back the deleted pictures from our SD card. Disk Drill can recover almost any file format, including RAW images as well!

Let’s take a look at how easy it is to use this data recovery tool to recover deleted photos from an SD card.

How to recover deleted pictures from an SD card on Windows

Users of the Windows operating system should first opt for the free download of Disk Drill. The free version allows you to preview recoverable files and actually recover up to 500MBs for free, without upgrading to the Pro version.

Follow these steps to recover deleted photos from SD card on Windows:

  1. Download and install the Disk Drill onto your Windows machine.
    Disk Drill
    Data recovery for free
    Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery
  2. Attach the device containing the SD Card to your Windows PC.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select your SD card from the list of available disks. Once you’ve selected the SD Card, click on Search for lost data.
  4. Wait for the scan process to complete.scan in progress
  5. Once the scan has finished, you can then browse the files that Disk Drill was able to find. Click on the Preview icon to look at the file before you choose to recover it.previewing files in disk drill on windows
  6. Check the files that you would like to recover and then click on the Recover button.

How to recover deleted photos from an SD card on Mac

Mac users can download a free version of Disk Drill that allows them to preview the files that it can recover before any financial investment is required. If the files you need are recoverable, you can opt to purchase the Pro version of Disk Drill and perform the actual data recovery.

Follow these steps to recover deleted photos from SD card on Mac:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill onto your Mac.
    Disk Drill
    Data recovery for free
    Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery
  2. Attach the device containing the SD card that held the deleted photos to your Mac.
  3. Select the SD card from the list of disks presented by Disk Drill. In this case, we’re going to select our SD card but it could be any storage card in disk drill
  4. Wait for the scan process to complete. This can take some time depending on how much data you have to scan.scan in progress
  5. Now that the scan is done, review the items that Disk Drill was able to recover from your SD card. You can browse your files, use the search box to find something, and also use the Preview function to look at something before recovering it.
  6. Look through the files that you want to recover from your SD card and then checkmark the box to select them for recovery. Now, click on the blue Recover button to recover the files and put them back onto your Mac. selecting files for recovery in disk drill


As you can see there are a variety of options available to you if you accidentally deleted some photos from an SD card on Mac or Windows PC. Depending on how long ago they were deleted and the availability of a backup, it might be a simple or more complex procedure.


Joel Lockard

Joel Lockard has had a love for technology his whole life. He works as an Airline Pilot and when not flying spends his time tinkering with technology especially Apple-related tech and Mac apps. He is always looking to mak...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.