How to Recover Deleted Files from an SD Card on Mac

Disk Drill is an effective and reliable app to recover files from an SD card on macOS 10.15+ and supports macOS Ventura. It can recover deleted files on all types of SD cards on Mac OS X including SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD, CompactFlash Cards, XD Cards, Sony Memory Sticks, MMC Cards, and virtually any other card your Mac can read. In this article, we will show you how to use Disk Drill as well as other methods to recover lost data from an SD card on Mac.


Disk Drill can recover Mac data from your memory card even if it was formatted 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 for example when you need to recover photos from SD card on Mac, Disk Drill can 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 SD 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. Get Disk Drill for Mac

Download and install the free version of Disk Drill for Mac. Since you will be recovering data from an external SD card, it’s safe to install the software on your computer’s main disk. Be prepared to provide your administrator’s password during the installation.

  • recover deleted files mac

    Download Disk Drill

  • how to recover deleted files mac

    Drag to Applications Folder

  • is it possible to recover deleted files on mac

    Launch Disk Drill

2. Connect the SD card to your Mac

You can use your computer’s built-in card reader, an external reader, or connect your machine directly to the device that contains the card.

3. Launch Disk Drill and choose the SD card

Launch Disk Drill and select the SD card from the disk list presented in the application’s main window.

sd card recovery mac

4. Scan Your Memory Card

Click the Recover button to start Disk Drill’s scanning algorithms. The software will search the specified disk and return a list of recoverable files. You can pause the scan at any time and recover files before the scan completes.

iPhone data recovery software for Mac

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5. Preview lost files

Preview the files that Disk Drill has found and that can be recovered. You can determine if the software can restore the files you need. At this point, if you wish to perform the recovery you will need to upgrade to Disk Drill for Mac Pro.

Recover Android files and data on Mac OS X

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6. Choose the files for recovery

Select the files you want to retrieve and designate a storage location where they will be saved. Do not save the files to the SD card that is being used for recovery to avoid overwriting or corrupting data as it is recovered.

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7. Recover the deleted Mac data from your SD card

Click the Recover button a second time to perform the recovery. When the process completes, your recovered data will be found in the location you specified in the previous step.

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Considerations for Mac SD Card Recovery

Keep in mind, the less you use the memory card you are going to recover your data from, the higher the chance of SD or CF card recover on Mac. Most cameras don't wipe pictures completely from your camera memory card upon 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.


You can recover formatted SD card on Mac OS X even if it 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.

Reasons for Data Loss on SD Cards

There are multiple reasons that you might experience data loss on an SD card. Here are some of the most common causes of lost files on your memory card.

Accidental File Deletion

Accidental File Deletion

Accidentally deleting files from an SD card is very easy to do. All it takes is a second and a misplaced command or incorrect click and you can lose a lot of valuable data quickly.

Formatted SD Card

Formatted SD Card

Performing a format or reformat on one of your SD can lead to a large data loss if you inadvertently use the wrong card. Labeling cards may make it less likely that this mistake is made.

Malware Infection

Malware Infection

Infection with malware or a virus can lead to data loss and SD card corruption. Exposing your SD cards to strange devices or computers increases the probability that you will pick up an infection that potentially compromises your data.

Physical Damage

Physical Damage

Physical damage to an SD card can result in the loss of all of the files that were on the storage device. Cards can easily be damaged by being crushed in the bottom of a bag or by too much heat or moisture.

SD Card Corruption

SD Card Corruption

A corrupted SD card can exhibit data loss. Corruption can be caused by removing the card while files are transferring, from a virus infection, or from using the card with multiple devices.

Power Failures

Power Failures

A power failure that occurs while you are reading or writing to the card can result in files being lost or corrupted. Make sure you have enough battery power in your device before using it to transfer data.

Recover Deleted Mac Data From any Memory Card

Disk Drill is compatible with any type of memory card from all manufacturers such as SanDisk, Lexar, and Olympus. If you can connect the device to your Mac, Disk Drill can scan it and recover its lost files. Easily restore photos, videos, and other data from SD cards in digital cameras, smartphones, and other types of digital devices.

SD Card
SD Card

SanDisk®, Sony®, Lexar®


PNY®, Genuine SanDisk®, Lexar®

microSD/miniSD Card
microSD/miniSD Card

Delkin®, Verbatim®, Silicon Power®

MMC Card
MMC Card

Transcend®, Johnziny®, Canon®

xD Picture Card
xD Picture Card

Olympus®, xD-Picture®, Fujifilm®

CF Card
CF Card

MyMemory®, EgoDisk®, Delkin®

Tip: To recover data from a damaged SD card that cannot be accessed by your computer, contact Cleverfiles Data Recovery Center.

Files Types Supported for SD Card Recovery

Disk Drill recognizes and can reconstruct and recover over 400 different file signatures when performing a deep scan. This means that virtually any type of file can be recovered with this flexible recovery application. Below we have listed just some of the filetypes that can be recovered with Disk Drill.

JP2, BMP, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PSP, DNG (Digital Negative), CDR (CorelDRAW), VSD (Visio Drawing file). Mac OS X Icon: ICNS. Polaroid/Sigma: X3F. Adobe: AI, IDML, INDB, INDD, PSD and more
FLV (Flash video), M4V (iTunes video), MOV (Apple QuickTime movie), OGM (OGG Media), M4P (iTunes Music Store audio), MP4 (MPEG-4 video), MPG (MPEG video), SWF (Flash movie) and more
AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), CAF (Core Audio File), MP3 (MPEG Audio Stream, Layer III), ALP (Ableton Live Pack), M4A (Apple Lossless Audio), WAV (DTS-WAV), VOC (Creative Labs Voice) and more
ZIP (Extended Zip File), JAR (Java Archive), DMG (Mac OS X Disk Image), RAR (WinRAR Compressed Archive), ISO (ISO-9660 CD Disc Image), MBX (Apple Mail mailbox file), 7Z (7-Zip Compressed) and more
PDF (Portable Document Format), EMLX (Apple Mail Message), FMP12 (FileMaker Pro 12), APK (Android Package), IPA (iPhone or iPod Touch Application), DOCX (Microsoft Word) and more
Other Files
Other Files
DD (Forensic DD images), ISO (Uncompressed disk images), ACCDB (Microsoft Database), OTF (OpenType Font), SQL (bundled SQL queries), BIN (Generic disk images), VMDK (Virtual VMWare disks) and more

Methods for Recovering Deleted Files from an SD Card on a Mac without Software

There are several ways to recover lost files from an SD card without using data recovery software. Here are three methods that you can try.


Recover from your Mac’s Trash

If the SD card was attached to your Mac when the files were deleted, you may be able to retrieve them from the Trash Can. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Trash by clicking its icon.
  2. Locate the file you want to recover.
  3. Right-click on the item and select Put Back.
restore files from sd card mac

Recover with a Time Machine backup

Your Mac comes equipped with a backup and recovery tool called Time Machine. If you use it to back up your data, and you should, here is how to recover it.

  1. Connect the storage media containing the Time Machine backup to your Mac.
  2. Open a Finder window displaying the folder which last contained the deleted file.
  3. Open Time Machine by clicking on the clock icon on Mac’s menu bar and select Enter Time Machine.
  4. Find the items you want to restore from within Time Machine. You may be able to choose from multiple versions of detailed files.
  5. Select an item to recover and press the Spacebar to preview the file.
  6. Click Restore to perform the recovery
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Restore from other backup solutions

You may choose to use another backup solution to protect the data on your SD cards. There are many options available that range from simply copying the files from an SD card to an external storage device to using a backup solution offered by a cloud provider. You can use these backups to recover your lost files if you have taken the time to back them up.

Restore from other backup solutions

Recover lost files by fixing file system issues

Your SD card files may appear to be deleted due to file system corruption, which may occur as a result of improper removal, random read/write errors, or excessive wear. Fortunately, your Mac comes with a capable file system repair tool, called First Aid. To use it:

  1. Connect your SD card to your Mac.
  2. Launch Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility).
  3. Select your SD card from the list of storage devices on the left.
  4. Click the First Aid button in the toolbar.
  5. Confirm your decision to check the SD card and repair errors by clicking the Run button.
Recover lost files by fixing file system issues

Tips to Maximize the Chance of Successful Data Recovery

Here are some tips that can help you reduce the probability that you will lose data from an SD card. Following these recommendations will also make it more likely that you can perform a successful recovery with data recovery software.

Stop using the card

Stop using the card

Stop using the card as soon as you suspect that data loss has occurred. Continued use of the device exposes its contents to being overwritten or corrupted.

Backup your data

Backup your data

Backing up your data is the best defense against any type of data loss scenario. You should make it a regular habit to create a backup of all of your valuable data.

Use a high-quality card

Use a high-quality card

Use high-quality SD cards from reputable manufacturers such as SanDisk. Saving a little money can come back to bite you when the card fails and you lose data.

Steer clear of viruses

Steer clear of viruses

Try to keep your SD cards free of virus infection by limiting the number of unverified devices you connect it to and using antivirus software on your Mac.

Handle the card gently

Handle the card gently

Take good care of your SD cards and they will last longer and keep your data safe. Keep them away from excessive heat and moisture and protect them in a case.

Allow data transfers to finish

Allow data transfers to finish

Removing the card while data is being transferred can cause corruption and result in the loss of data. Make sure the process is complete before taking out the card.

cleverfiles PROTECT

Protecting Your Data in Advance is the Best Solution

Disk Drill for Mac offers users more than just excellent data recovery functionality. The application provides two free features that are designed to protect your data and make accidentally deleted files immediately available for recovery. Guaranteed Recovery creates an invisible copy of every file sent to your Mac’s Trash and makes them available for a fast recovery. Recovery Vault retains metadata from designated deleted files and folders so Disk Drill can locate and restore them more quickly.

recover deleted files from sd card mac

Technical Specifications for Disk Drill for Mac

OS support
OS support:

Versions of Disk Drill are available for all versions of macOS from 10.5 through the newest version macOS 12 Monterey.

File Systems Supported
File Systems Supported:

FAT/FAT32/exFAT, NTFS, HFS & HFS+, APFS, EXT3/EXT4 and any RAW disk

Hardware Requirements
Hardware Requirements:

Disk Space: 150 MB minimum free space
CPU: at least with x86
RAM: at least 128MB

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How to recover files from an SD card on Mac OS X?

To recover deleted files from an SD card on Mac:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Connect the SD card to your Mac.
  3. Launch Disk Drill SD card recovery software for Mac.
  4. Choose the SD card from the list of available disks.
  5. Click Recover to initiate the scanning process.
  6. Preview the files that Disk Drill can retrieve.
  7. Select the items to restore and click Recover.

How can I recover corrupted SD cards on Mac?

Follow these steps to recover files from a corrupted SD card on a Mac.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Connect the SD card to your Mac.
  3. Launch the program and select the SD card.
  4. Scan for deleted files and preview the found items.
  5. Perform the recovery and get your files back.

How can I recover deleted files from SD Card on Mac for free?

To recover deleted files from your SD card without spending any money:

  1. Open Finder and display the content of your SD card.
  2. Reveal hidden files by pressing CMD + Shift + >.
  3. Navigate to the .Trashes folder and open the Trash folder inside.
  4. Select the files you want to recover.
  5. Move the selected files to a safe location.

How can I recover a formatted SD card on Mac?

If you accidentally format a partition or complete SD card on your Mac, Disk Drill recovery software is the best way to recover the lost data. Just use these simple steps:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Connect the SD card to your computer.
  3. Start the app and select the SD card.
  4. Scan for deleted data and preview the found files.
  5. Perform the recovery to restore your data.

How can I format an SD card on Mac?

Follow this procedure to format an SD card on your Mac.

  1. Connect the card to your Mac with an external card reader.
  2. Open the Disk Utility application.
  3. Locate the SD card in the left window pane. It may appear with no name.
  4. Click the ERASE tab in the middle of the window.
  5. Click the Format dropdown menu. Select MS-DOS (FAT) if the card is 32 GB or smaller. For larger cards, use the ExFAT format.
  6. Respond to the verification prompt by clicking erase.

How can I recognize memory card corruption?

Here are some of the signs that indicate your memory card has experienced some form of corruption.

  • Missing files.
  • Strange error messages.
  • Black screen on your camera or mobile device.
  • Read and write failures.
  • The SD card is not recognized by your computer.
  • The card displays no files.

How can I open an SD card on Mac?

You can use an external card reader or the one built into your Mac. Follow these steps.

  1. Carefully insert the card into the card reader. Ensure that the metal tabs on the edge of the card are facing down.
  2. The SD card will appear on your Mac’s desktop and in a Finder window.
  3. Make sure to eject the card before removing it from your computer to prevent possible corruption.

How can I recover deleted files from a MicroSD card on Mac?

Follow these steps to recover deleted files from a MicroSD card.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Start the program and choose the MicroSD card from the disk list.
  3. Click Recover to scan for lost files.
  4. Preview the recoverable files identified by Disk Drill and choose those you want to restore.
  5. Click Recover again to restore the selected items.

How can I recover deleted files from an SDHC card?

The same procedure outlined above to recover data from a MicroSD card applies to an SDHC card. Follow those steps to restore your deleted files.

How to recover deleted photos from an SD card on Mac?

Deleted photos can be restored from an SD card with this procedure:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Connect the device with the SD card to your Mac.
  3. Launch the app and select the SD card.
  4. Hit the Recover button to start scanning for deleted pictures.
  5. Select the photos from the list of recoverable files.
  6. Click Recover to restore your images.

How can I recover deleted videos from my memory card for free?

You have two options to try and recover deleted videos from a memory card for free. They are:

  1. Restore the files by using the Recently Deleted folder if it exists on the device which contains the card. Not all mobile devices offer this useful feature.
  2. Use a previously made backup of your data to retrieve the deleted videos.

What is the best SD card recovery software for Mac in 2023?

Best 8 Free SD Card Recovery Software for Mac OS X in 2023:

  1. Disk Drill for Mac
  2. PhotoRec Recovery for Mac
  3. iSkysoft Data Recover
  4. TestDisk for Mac
  5. M3 Mac Data Recovery
  6. Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery
  7. Exif Untrasher
  8. Remo Recover Media

How do I fix an unreadable SD card on my Mac?

You have several options to try with an unreadable SD card including:

  1. Inserting the card into a different device or slot in a card reader;
  2. Using a card reader and attempting to assign it a new drive letter;
  3. Running the macOS Disk Utility and performing First Aid on the card;
  4. Rebooting your computer and trying to reconnect the SD card.
  5. Clean the SD card contacts to free them from dust.
Disk Drill 5
Can one also recover SD card on Windows? With Disk Drill for Windows, you can!

More How To's on file recovery on Mac OS X

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