Table of Content
    Photo Recovery

    How To Format SD Card on Different Devices [Without Losing Data]?

    Table of Content

      Summary: This blog outlines various methods of formatting the SD card. Learn the step-by-step solutions for formatting SD card on Windows, Mac, Android, and digital cameras.

      An SD card is a portable little device for storing all kinds of data, like photos, music, videos, and documents. Sometimes, you might need to format your SD card because of compatibility issues, storage needs, or when there’s some error with the SD card. Formatting wipes everything on the card, giving you a fresh start.

      However, the steps to format an SD card can vary depending on whether you’re using a Windows PC, Mac, Android device, or digital camera, so it’s crucial to do it right to avoid any data loss situation. In this post, we’ll guide you through the process for each device.

      How To Format SD Card on Windows?

      There are three methods to successfully format an SD card on your Windows system.

      Note: Formatting the SD card will erase everything saved on it. Therefore, make sure to take proper backup of your important data.

      Method 1: Format SD Card Using Windows Explorer

      One of the easiest ways to format a memory card on Windows is to use File Explorer. To do this, follow the steps below:

      • Connect your SD card to your Windows system via a card reader.
      • Go to My Computer and select your SD card.
      How to Format SD Card on Windows PC
      • Right-click on your SD card and click Format.
      Format SD Card on Windows PC - click Format
      • A format window will appear. Specify the file system and set a volume label for your SD card. Moreover, select Format options and click Start.
      Format SD Card on Windows PC - click Start
      • Windows will start the formatting process for your SD card.

      Method 2: Format SD Card Using Disk Management

      The built-in Windows utility Disk Management can be used for managing disks and volumes on your system. It can be used to format or delete partitions, create new ones and change the sizes of partitions. Here’s how to use Disk Management to format a memory card:

      • Insert the SD card into the card reader and then connect it to your Windows system.
      • Go to This PC in the left pane, right-click on it, and select Manage.
      Format SD Card Using Disk Management
      • A Computer Management window will appear, go to Storage and click Disk Management in the left pane.
      Format SD Card Using Disk Management - click Disk Management
      • Locate your SD card, right-click on it, and choose the Format option.
      Format SD Card Using Disk Management - choose Format option
      • Next, set a new Volume label, File system, and Allocation unit size for your SD card. Then click OK to format your memory card.
      Format SD Card Using Disk Management - Allocation unit size

      Method 3: Format SD Card Using Command Prompt

      In Windows, Command Prompt is the default command line interpreter, which lets you control your system all from a single place. The Diskpart command lets you manage the disk partition and can be used to create, format, and delete partitions. Here’s how to use the Diskpart command in CMD to format the memory card:

      • Connect the SD card to your computer.
      • Type CMD in the search bar at the bottom of the Windows screen, and click the Run as Administrator option under the Command Prompt from the search result.
      open command prompt in Windows
      • Type diskpart in the command prompt and click Enter.
      disk part in command prompt
      • Next, type list disk to see all accessible disks on your computer and click Enter.
      list disk in command prompt
      • Type select disk followed by the specific disk number of your SD card i.e. select disk 1 and press Enter key.
      select disk in command prompt
      • Your SD card disk is selected. Next, type clean in the prompt and press Enter. It will delete everything from your SD card.
      clean disk in command prompt
      • Type create partition primary and hit Enter key.
      • Next, type format fs=ntfs or format fs=fat32/exfat to format your SD card disk and press Enter Key.
      • Next, wait until formatting is completed, type exit and click Enter.
      format write protected disk in cmd

      How to Format SD Card on Mac?

      You can format your SD card on Mac using – Disk Utility, Terminal or the SD Card Formatter app.

      Method 1: Format SD Card Using Disk Utility

      • Connect your SD card to your Mac either by inserting it directly into the built-in SD card slot or using the memory card reader.
      • Press Command + Space Bar and type Disk Utility into Spotlight search to open the Disk Utility App.
      Disk utility in Mac
      • Look for your SD card and select it.
      • Next, click on the Erase button at the top of the screen.
      Disk utility in Mac - click Erase
      • A pop-up will appear with a warning that erasing the SD card will delete data stored on it.
      • Here, you have the option to change the name of the SD card and select the file format from the drop-down menu.
      format sd card in Mac
      • Choose the file system format of your card from the Format drop-down menu. Hit the Erase button, all your media files stored on the card will be deleted and your SD card will be formatted to the appropriate file system.
      Disk utility in Mac - Hit Erase

      Method 2: Format SD Card Using Terminal

      This is a complex way to format the SD card and is suitable for advanced users. Here are the commands you need to use while formatting the SD card using the Terminal app:

      • Connect the SD card to Mac using a card reader.
      • Press Command + Space and type Terminal to open it.
      • Type diskutil list to know details about all disks connected to Mac.
      • Search for your SD card in the disks list.
      • Next, type sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 SDCARD MBRFormat /dev/disk4 for 32 GB or smaller SD cards. For 32 GB and larger SD cards, type sudo diskutil eraseDisk ExFAT SDCARD MBRFormat /dev/disk4.
      • If prompted, type your Mac password.
      Screenshot 11 7 2024 114236 cdn cmlep.nitrocdn 1
      • Wait for the command to finish, once done, your SD card will be ready to use after formatting.
      Screenshot 11 7 2024 114352 cdn cmlep.nitrocdn 1

      Method 3: Format SD Card Using SD Card Formatter

      You can even use the SD card formatter app developed by SD Association to format the SD card on Mac. This app is easy-to-use and can automatically detect your SD card, its size, and choose an appropriate file system. For example, if you connect a 64 GB SD card, it will detect the card easily and will only allow to format it to SDXC specification using exFAT.

      Screenshot 11 7 2024 114452 cdn cmlep.nitrocdn

      How To Format SD Card on an Android Device?

      Formatting the memory card on an Android smartphone is a simple process and can be done in just a few simple steps. However, before formatting, it’s necessary to back up any important data on the card to a cloud storage or copy it on the phone’s internal storage. Here’s how to format the card in various Android versions:

      • Insert the SD card into your Android smartphone.
      • Open the Settings app, scroll down, and tap on Battery and Device Care option (in some Android, it is Battery and Storage).
      battery and device care
      • Next, select Storage from the list of available options.
      go to storage in Android
      • On the Storage screen, swipe the screen to see SD card details (in some Android phones, the SD card will appear at the bottom of the screen).
      check the storage of sd card in Android
      • Next, click on the three dots at the top and select the option of Format. (In some Android phones, click on three dots, then Advanced, select your SD card, and then choose Format option).
      choose format option in Android
      • In the pop-up window, click Format to confirm and initiate the formatting process.
      confirm to format sd card in Android

      How To Format SD Card on Camera?

      Formatting an SD card on your camera is crucial to prevent issues with saving new photos and videos. It also minimizes the risk of file corruption and helps avoid problems caused by low storage space or taking pictures when the battery is low. Here’s how to format SD cards on some popular brands of cameras, such as Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

      Method 1: Format SD Card on a Canon Camera

      • Insert your memory card into the Camera.
      • Turn on the camera, press the MENU button, and reach the ‘Wrench’ tab using the INFO button.
      click Menu to see the info in canon camera
      • Next, select the ‘SET’ button and move further to choose the ‘Format card’ option.
      click format card in canon camera
      • Now choose the option of how you want to format your memory card i.e. Low-level format or quick format.
      • Select OK and then press the SET button to initiate the formatting.
      format sd card in Canon camera

      Method 2: Format SD card on a Sony camera

      • Turn on the camera after inserting the memory card into it.
      • Press MENU and use the control wheel to select Setup, then choose Format.
      choose format option in Sony camera
      • Chose which memory card you want to format.
      select the memory card in Sony camera
      • Use the control wheel to click Enter to start the formatting.
      format the sd card in Sony camera

      Method 3: Format SD card on a Nikon camera.

      • Insert the memory card into the Nikon camera.
      • Press the MENU button on the top-right of the camera.
      • Move the wrench icon to the Setup menu item.
      • Now, select the Format Memory Card option and choose whether you want to format the SD card or the Compact Flash card.
      choose format memory card option in NIkon camera
      • Confirm your choice by pressing Yes.
      click Yes to format sd card in Nikon camera

      How To Recover Media Files from the SD Card Before Formatting It?

      When you are about to format an SD card, your first step should be to recover the photos, videos, and audio files stored on it. Recovering the data before formatting the memory card ensures that you don’t have to face a data loss scenario. Use a reliable SD card recovery software like Stellar Photo Recovery to restore all your data before formatting.

      The software can recover lost or deleted media files from corrupted/ damaged/ inaccessible SD cards (Mini, Micro, SDHC, SDXC) memory cards, compact flash, CF cards, and more. Follow the step-by-step method to recover media files from the SD Card using Stellar Photo Recovery:

      Step 1: Connect the SD card to your computer using an SD card reader.

      Step 2: Download, install, and launch Stellar Photo Recovery software on your PC.

      Stellar Photo Recovery

      Step 3: From the home screen, select the SD card from which you want to recover your files and click Scan.

      Select the SD card and click Scan

      Step 4: The scanning will start and once completed, you can Preview the recoverable files.

      select files to recover

      Step 5: Select the media files you want to restore and click Recover to save them at a desired location.

      start saving


      Formatting an SD card is a straightforward process, whether you’re doing it on Windows, Mac, Android, or a digital camera. However, it’s important to remember that formatting an SD card will erase all data on the card, so it’s crucial to back up any important data before proceeding forward.

      By following the methods outlined in this blog post, you should be able to format your SD card easily, regardless of the device you’re using.


      1. How to fix the “SD card won’t format” error?

      There can be various reasons why SD card format errors occur, such as a corrupt card, bad sectors or virus infection. To resolve the SD card won’t format error, you can refer to this blog.

      2. What are the signs that show my SD is corrupted?

      Your SD card is corrupted if you see the following signs:

      • Photos on your SD cards are missing.
      • Your SD card is not accessible.
      • Unable to see the stored photos or videos.
      • Unable to add, delete, or copy anything on SD card.

      3. How to fix the error ‘SD card is blank’?

      You can try the following methods to fix the SD card is blank error:

      • Run CHKDSK on SD card.
      • Restart your device.
      • Connect your card to any other machines.
      • Format your SD card.

      4. How to recover photos from a formatted SD card?

      You can recover photos from the formatted SD card until you have overwritten them.

      Was this article helpful?

      No NO

      About The Author

      Vishakha Singh linkdin

      Vishakha Singh is a Senior Writer at Stellar Data Recovery with half a decade of experience in writing content in diverse verticals. She's a tech enthusiast who loves creating photo/video recovery & repair tutorials. Vishakha also specializes in writing full-blown iPhone and Android guides.


      1. Formatting on camera is different on my camera. As the steps are different. I have Nikon coolpix p950 and its not showing what you have mentioned.

        1. Hi Harman,
          Sometimes, steps may differ on different cameras or camera brands. Please visit this Nikon guide to know how to format SD card on Nikon P950.

      Leave a comment

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

      Image Captcha
      Refresh Image Captcha

      Enter Captcha Here :

      Related Posts


      Why Choose Stellar?

      • 0M+


      • 0+

        Years of Excellence

      • 0+

        R&D Engineers

      • 0+


      • 0+


      • 0+

        Awards Received