How to Recover Locked SD Card Pictures/Files?

Summary: Worried about losing photos from a locked SD card or photos disappearing from a locked SD card? This post guides you on how to recover pictures from a locked SD card on Android, PC, and Mac. Further, learn 5 secure methods to unlock SD cards of any type and brand. Before reading further, you may download the locked SD card recovery software — Stellar Photo Recovery from here.

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Locked SD card doesn’t let you access photos and other files saved on it. If your SD card is inaccessible and not opening, this means either it is write-protected, password-locked, corrupted, or physically damaged.

You cannot open, format, view, copy, edit, or save important photos and other files from such locked memory cards. There’s also a risk of losing all images while trying to fix a locked SD card in a camera or an Android phone.

If you’re worried about how to safely retrieve photos from locked SD card, read this post further. It will guide you on how to recover pictures from a locked SD card and other storage media on Android, PC, and Mac. Further, it shares various safe methods to unlock all types of SD cards to recover the photos.

How to Recover Photos from Locked SD Card — Android, PC, and Mac

To recover photos from a locked SD card of Android, camera, or other devices, the storage media should be accessible. So first try to unlock the SD card by:

  • Removing the write-protection or;
  • Decrypting the SD card or;
  • Removing password protection of your SD card

You can try the below methods to unlock an SD card and recover pictures from it:

  1. Unlock the SD Card by removing write-protection
  2. Unlock SD card in Windows using CMD
  3. Unlock BitLocker-encrypted SD card on PC
  4. Unlock Android SD card using phone Settings
  5. Recover forgotten SD card password using File Manager on Android

Once the SD card is unlocked and accessible by using above methods, recover the missing or deleted photos using Stellar SD card recovery software — Stellar Photo Recovery on Windows or Mac computer.

The advanced photo recovery tool can restore photos from all types of memory cards, irrespective of their size, capacity, and brand. It supports recovery from BitLocker-encrypted SD cards as well.

The software is advanced enough to recover pictures and videos and audio files lost due to formatting, virus attack, corruption or damage in the storage card.

Steps to recover deleted photos from locked SD card:

Step 1: Download Stellar Photo Recovery on your Mac or Windows computer.

Photo Recovery Photo Recovery Mac

Step 2: Connect the unlocked SD card to the computer.

Step 3: In the software interface, select the memory card and click Scan. For an encrypted SD card, the software will ask for the password. Enter the password to begin scanning.

Stellar photo recovery select USB drive screen1
Figure: Scan camera SD card or drive

Step 4: Preview the found photos after scanning and click Recover.

Preview photos in Stellar Photo Recovery
Figure: Preview photos in Stellar Photo Recovery

Step 5: Click Browse to select a location to save the recovered deleted photos from the locked SD card.

Methods to Unlock SD Card to Recover Pictures

You can remove the write-protection, decrypt SD card, or choose to remove the password protection to restore locked SD card pictures using the following methods:

Note: Force unlocking the SD card by formatting would delete photos permanently. So if you want to format a locked SD card, first restore the photos and other files from it, using the SD card recovery software.

Method 1: Unlock SD Card by removing write-protection

Write protected SD card won’t format
Figure: Write protected SD card won’t format

If you receive the ‘disk is write-protected’ message, unlock the switch on the side of the memory card. Just slide the switch up. This will remove the write-protection of the SD card. Now you can open, view, copy, edit, or save the photos in your SD card without any problem.

If you are looking for how to unlock an SD card without a switch, in cases where the lock switch is faulty, broken or loose, try the next method.

Method 2: Unlock SD card in Windows using CMD

You can unlock the camera or Android SD card on your Windows PC using CMD. This method will remove the write protection of the SD card.

Steps to unlock memory card using CMD:

Command lines in CMD window
Figure: Command lines in CMD window
  1. Connect the locked memory card to your PC via card reader.
  2. Press Windows + R key to open the Run dialog box.
  3. Type CMD, click OK to open the CMD window.
  4. Type Diskpart. Hit Enter.
  5. Type List disk. Hit Enter.
  6. Type Select disk X (where X is the SD card number). Hit Enter.
  7. Type Attributes disk clear readonly. Hit Enter.
  8. Exit the command prompt.

Now check, if you can open and recover photos from the locked SD card.

In case, the SD card gives “SD Card is Damaged, Try Reformatting it” error, know how to fix it.

Method 3: Unlock BitLocker-encrypted SD card

When you have forgotten the BitLocker password, open your locked SD card by using BitLocker Recovery Key. It is your 48-digit password generated at the time of BitLocker encryption activation. The Recovery Key may be saved at a location you chose during encryption — in your Microsoft account/ in a file/ or as a print-out.

Steps to unlock BitLocker-protected SD card using Recovery Key:

  1. Double-click on the password-locked memory card on PC.
  2. Click More options.
BitLocker window of sd card
Figure: BitLocker window

3. Click Enter recovery key.

Figure: Recovery Key option in BitLocker
Figure: Recovery Key option in BitLocker

4. Enter the 48-digit recovery key. Click Unlock.

Unlock SD card with Recovery key
Figure: Unlock SD card with Recovery key

You can now recover locked SD card pictures.

Method 4: Unlock Android SD card using Settings

If you want to recover pictures from locked SD card of your Android device, decrypt it using your mobile settings.

Steps to unlock SD card on Android (Steps may vary with Android model)

  1. Insert the memory card in your Android.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Click to navigate to Lock screen and security > Decrypt SD card.
  4. Enter the password/ PIN/ pattern and wait till the process finishes. You can now access the photos in your Android SD card.

Method 5: Recover forgotten SD card password using File Manager on Android

If you don’t remember your Android SD card password, recover it through File Manager application on your phone. Once you get the password, use it to unlock the SD card on Android and recover the lost photos.

Steps to recover locked SD card password on Android:

  1. Go to File Manager on your Android.
  2. Open System Folders.
  3. Search for the file named, mmcstore and transfer it to your computer via Bluetooth or USB.
  4. Rename this file as mmcstore.txt on your PC and open it in Notepad. You may see the password in the Notepad file.

Now insert the locked SD card in the smartphone and enter the password to access its photos and other files.

Conclusion

First, remove the write-protection or password-encryption from the locked SD card. This post shares the best secure methods to unlock the SD card.

Next, recover missing or deleted photos from the SD card using Stellar Photo Recovery software. The software can safely restore pictures from locked SD cards used in Android phones, digital cameras, and other devices.

It is recommended to try the free demo of Stellar Photo Recovery software for locked SD cards.

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