How to Recover Deleted Photos from an SD Card on Mac

SD cards are universally used to store photos, videos, music, etc. These SD cards are not immune to problems in Mac; problems such as SD card not working on Mac, SD card not recognized after macOS update, unmounting repeatedly, files missing, or SD card error, etc.. Mac users often find it hard to deal with such SD card problems that occur on their system, eventually leading to file loss.

The situation can be frustrating as you are worried about the loss of stored photos and video files on your SD card.

Here we bring the 7 best methods to fix SD card problems and recover lost or deleted photos and videos on your macOS.

You can apply these methods on any macOS version including Catalina, Mojave, and High Sierra. They are applicable for SD cards used in any Mac device like MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Pro, Mac mini, iMac Pro and others.

How to recover lost video and photos from SD card on Mac

There are two aspects of SD card recovery on Mac - 

  • Fix the SD card corruption or other problems on macOS and access its data.
  • Recover SD card photo, video and other files, irrespective of whether SD card corruption is fixed or not.

To fix corruption, unreadability or unminting problem of drives and external media, Mac provides repair functions in Disk Utility for its users.

While to recover lost data, there's Time Machine, Trash, and Mac SD card recovery software, which you can trust in case of files lost.

So here we share the 7 best ways to fix and recover SD card on Mac.

Hardware checks on Mac before troubleshooting SD corruption and recovery

Sometimes SD card is not readable or may not show up in connected drive list on Mac due to improper connection, faulty card reader or card slot. Your SD card might be write-protected also. So to rule out any hardware issue, do the following:

  • Connect your SD card to another computer to see if it's readable.
  • Connect with a different card reader.
  • Check and disable SD card write-protection. Slide upward the switch on side of SD card.

If still SD card is not readable, go along the methods to fix corruption and recover photos and videos files from it.

Recover SD Card on Mac

Methods to Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card on Mac

Method 1: Restart your Mac

Restart fixes problems related to operating system, software, drivers etc. that may interfere with the external device connection. So restart your Mac.

Click on the Apple icon and select Restart from drop down. Next, insert your SD card again. The problem might get resolved.

Method 2: Recover with Mac SD card recovery software

Get an effective SD card recovery for Mac software such as Stellar Photo Recovery Mac for your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, Mac Pro, and others. The software can restore lost and deleted photos, videos, and audio files from SD cards of all class and capacities on Mac system.

With customized recovery options, you can quickly recover hundreds of photos and videos with original file name and date timestamp on Mac. The Mac software is easy to use and effective in various loss cases from SD card.

Stellar Photo Recovery for Mac is compatible with Mac Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and rest of the below macOS versions.

Note: Don't use the SD card from which you want to retrieve files as this may overwrite its data and reduce the chances of recovery.

When to use Stellar software for SD card recovery on Mac:

  • Deleted photos, videos and audio files from SD card
  • Photos lost during transfer from SD card to Mac
  • Formatted SD card
  • Corrupt, virus infected or inaccessible card
  • SD card opens but shows empty
  • SD card not showing up or reading on Mac
  • SD card not mounting on Mac
  • SD card errors on Mac such as 'Read/Write error on SD card', 'SD card is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted or unreadable,' etc.
Free Download for Mac

In steps: How to Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card on Mac

  • Connect your SD card to Mac
  • Download & launch Stellar Photo Recovery for Mac software. Select Photo, Video or Audio that you want to recover.
Stellar Photo Recovery for Mac
  • On select location screen, select your SD card and click Scan.

Stellar Photo Recovery for Mac - click scan
  • After the scan process finishes, Preview the found photo and video files.
  • Select the required file and click Recover.
Stellar Photo Recovery for Mac - Preview

  • Click Browse to choose location for saving the multimedia file. Click Save.

Method 3: Recover SD card on Mac from Time Machine backup

If Time Machine is enabled on your Mac, it automatically creates backups of photos, videos, music, etc. Recover deleted or lost photos and video files of SD card from Time Machine backup.

Steps to recover deleted SD card files with Time Machine:

  • Open System Preferences in Apple menu.
  • Click to open Time Machine.
  • Look for the SD card files and click Restore.

You can also check for SD card photos and videos from other backup folders, in case you have created backup on Cloud utilities such as Google One, iCloud, Dropbox, or other.

Method 4: Recover SD card Photos from Trash

When you delete SD card photos on your Mac system, they remain in the Trash for 30 days until you empty the folder. Find and restore photos and videos from here.

Method 5: Mount your SD card in Disk Utility

If your SD card is not visible on Mac desktop, it indicates SD card is not mounted. You can mount SD card via Disk Utility.

Steps to mount SD card through Disk Utility:

  • Type Disk Utility on the search box.
  • In the Disk Utility window, select your SD card visible on the left pane.

Mount your SD card in Disk Utility
  • In the right pane, on the top, click on Mount. If your SD card is already mounted, you will see Unmount option. Next, close the window.

SD card recovery on Mac

Now your SD card should be readable by Mac.

Method 6: Repair corrupt SD card with First Aid

First Aid in Disk Utility can fix disk problems such as when SD card doesn't work properly, unreadable, or repeatedly unmounts. The feature checks the partitions and volumes on the SD card, verifies all its files and fixes issues, if any.

Steps to run First Aid in Disk Utility on Mac:

  • Open the Disk Utility app on your Mac.
  • Choose View > Show All Devices.
  • In the sidebar, select your SD card. Click the First Aid button.

First Aid button
  • Click Run.
  • As the First Aid process completes, click Done.

recover deleted files from sd card on mac

Note: If a message appears that the 'disk is about to fail, back up your data and replace the disk', Disk Utility can't repair it.

Method 7: Format your SD card on Mac

If your SD card is still inaccessible or doesn't mount on Mac after following the above fixes, formatting is the only option left. Formatting fixes corrupt SD card and rebuilds it as new. You can now reuse your SD card without any error.

Steps to format SD card on Mac:

  • Connect your SD card.
  • Launch Finder from the dock.
  • Go to the Applications folder.
  • Double-click Utilities and launch Disk Utility.
  • Select the SD card from the side panel. Click Erase on top
  • Name the SD card in the dialog box. Select the Format of file system. Usually ExFat format is preferred for SD cards.

recover deleted photos from sd card on mac
  • Click Erase.
  • Click Done when erase process finishes.
As formatting removes all the files, use SD card recovery software for Mac — Stellar Photo from the formatted SD card. Recovery to recover lost photos and videos from the formatted SD card.


There are various SD card recovery methods for Mac that you can apply in different loss scenarios — photo and video files deletion, corruption, formatting, SD card errors, unreadable or unmounting SD card, and others.

Irrespective of the file loss situation, the recommended Stellar Photo Recovery for Mac has proved to be successful in retrieving videos, photos, and audio files from SD card. Even when you format the SD card to fix corruption, the software ensures photo and video files recovery.

Get the free trial on Mac here and view the recoverable photos, videos, and audio files from your problem SD card.

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Nishat Paiker linkdin Icon

A passionate content creator with over 8 years’ of experience.

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