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How to Fix Corrupted SD Card on Mac and Recover Files

How to Fix Corrupted SD Card on Mac and Recover Files

Encountering a corrupted SD card on your Mac can be a frustrating experience, especially when you’ve got important photos, videos, or files stored on it. This article will walk you through various ways to fix a corrupted SD card on your Mac and recover those precious files. Using real-world scenarios based on personal experiences, we’ll explore a combination of built-in macOS utilities and third-party applications to restore your data. By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to handle this issue quickly and efficiently.


Common Scenarios:

Accidentally Removing the SD Card 🛑

  • You were transferring files and accidentally removed the SD card from your Mac without ejecting it properly, resulting in corrupted files.
  • This can cause the system to display errors or even make the SD card unreadable.
  • Sensitive data may become inaccessible, adding to the frustration.

Using the SD Card Across Multiple Devices 📸

  • Regularly using the same SD card in different devices like cameras, smartphones, and computers.
  • This frequent switching can sometimes lead to file system errors and eventual corruption of the SD card.
  • Files saved in various formats may become inconsistent or unreadable on your Mac.

SD Card Not Recognized After a macOS Update 🔄

  • After updating your macOS, the SD card is no longer recognized.
  • This can be due to driver incompatibilities or file system errors introduced during the update.
  • You may receive error messages or see a blank SD card in Finder.

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Fix Corrupted SD Card On Mac And Recover Files:

Method 1: Using Disk Utility 🛠

  • Insert the corrupted SD card into your Mac.
  • Open Disk Utility. You can find it in Applications > Utilities.
  • Select the SD card from the list on the left sidebar.
  • Click on First Aid, then click Run to start the repair process. Follow any on-screen instructions.
  • If the repair is successful, check your SD card to see if your files are now accessible. More details can be found on the Apple Support page.

Note: This method may not work if the SD card is severely damaged or if there are hardware issues.

Conclusion: Disk Utility is a built-in tool that can be highly effective for fixing minor corruptions and errors.

Method 2: Using Terminal Command 💻

  • Insert the SD card into your Mac.
  • Open Terminal. You can find it in Applications > Utilities.
  • Type diskutil list and press Enter to view a list of all drives.
  • Identify your SD card from the list and note its identifier (e.g., disk2).
  • Type diskutil repairDisk [identifier] and press Enter to start the repair process. Follow any on-screen instructions.

Note: Using Terminal requires some familiarity with command-line operations. Incorrect commands can cause further issues.

Conclusion: Terminal offers a more hands-on approach for those comfortable with command-line interfaces, potentially fixing what Disk Utility cannot.

Method 3: Using Third-Party Software 🖥

  • Download and install Disk Drill or another reliable data recovery software on your Mac. Refer to the Disk Drill guide for more details.
  • Insert the corrupted SD card and launch the software.
  • Select the SD card from the list of available drives.
  • Start the scan process to locate lost or corrupted files.
  • Recover the files to a new location on your Mac. Do not save them back to the SD card.

Note: Ensure you’re using a reputable data recovery software and avoid overwriting any existing data on the card.

Conclusion: Third-party software can be particularly effective for deeply corrupted cards and offers robust data recovery options.

Method 4: Reformatting the SD Card 🔄

  • Insert the corrupted SD card into your Mac.
  • Open Disk Utility and select the SD card.
  • Click on Erase tab. Choose the file system format (typically ExFAT or MS-DOS FAT).
  • Click Erase to format the SD card. This will delete all data on the card.
  • Once done, you can attempt to use data recovery software to retrieve lost files from the reformatted card.

Note: This method will erase all existing data on the SD card, so proceed with caution.

Conclusion: Reformatting can help fix file system errors but should be a last resort as it deletes all existing data from the card.

Method 5: Using A Different Card Reader 🔄

  • Sometimes the issue might be with your card reader rather than the SD card itself.
  • Try using a different card reader to access your SD card on your Mac.
  • Insert the SD card into the new card reader and check if it is readable.
  • If it works, copy the files to your Mac.
  • Consider replacing the old card reader if it consistently fails to read SD cards.

Note: Ensure the new card reader is compatible with your Mac and the SD card format.

Conclusion: Often overlooked, a faulty card reader can be the root cause of the problem. This easy fix can save you a lot of hassle.

Method 6: Professional Data Recovery Services 🛠

  • If all else fails, consider using a professional data recovery service.
  • Search for a reputable data recovery service in your area or online.
  • Contact them to discuss the issue and get a quote.
  • Send in or drop off your SD card for a professional evaluation and recovery.
  • While this can be expensive, it may be the only option for seriously damaged cards.

Note: Be sure to read reviews and select a reputable service to avoid scams.

Conclusion: For severely corrupted SD cards, professional services can offer the highest chance of successful data recovery.


Precautions and Tips:

Preventive Tips 🛡

  • Always use the eject option before removing your SD card from your Mac to avoid file system corruption.
  • Regularly back up data on your SD card to prevent data loss in case of corruption.
  • Use high-quality SD cards and avoid purchasing from unverified vendors to reduce the risk of hardware failure.
  • Avoid frequently switching the SD card between multiple devices to prevent file system errors.
  • Maintain your macOS and card reader firmware up to date to ensure compatibility with your SD card.

Maintenance Habits 🔧

  • Periodically format your SD card after backing up data to keep it free from file system errors.
  • Avoid filling your SD card to its full capacity to prevent file corruption.
  • Regularly clean your SD card and card reader’s contacts to ensure consistent electrical connections.
  • Store your SD cards in protective cases to guard against physical damage.
  • Consider using high-speed, reliable card readers to ensure quick and safe data transfers.

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more detailed information on how to handle corrupted SD cards, these resources can be incredibly useful. The macOS official website offers extensive documentation and support for disk utility tools. You can also find additional recovery software recommendations from TechRadar and other trusted tech websites.

For a more community-driven approach, consider exploring forums such as Apple Discussions where users share their experiences and solutions for fixing corrupted SD cards. Another comprehensive guide, specifically for Mac users, can be found on the MacRumors support page.

Various data recovery software reviews can also be found on CNET, offering in-depth analysis on their effectiveness and value. By using a mix of these resources, you can ensure a well-rounded approach to fixing your SD card.


Fixing a corrupted SD card on a Mac and recovering your files may seem daunting initially, but with the right tools and techniques, it is entirely feasible. From using built-in utilities like Disk Utility and Terminal to employing robust third-party software and professional services, there are multiple ways to tackle this issue. Preventative measures and maintenance habits can also go a long way in minimizing the risk of corruption in the future.

For a complete recovery guide of different scenarios, you might want to check this Linkedin article which offers step-by-step instructions to recover files deleted from an SD card. Being proactive and understanding these procedures can save you a lot of stress and data loss down the line.


Connect the SD card to your Mac and open Disk Utility. Select the card and check for issues under the First Aid option to identify corruption.

Open Disk Utility and select the corrupted SD card. Click on First Aid and then Run to let the utility resolve minor disk issues.

Sometimes, inserting the SD card into another device or using the First Aid option in Disk Utility on Mac might recover files without additional software.

Tools like Disk Drill or EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard are effective for recovering files from corrupted SD cards on Mac.

Download and install Disk Drill. Select the corrupted SD card and click on Search for lost data. Follow the prompted steps to recover your files.

The Terminal command fsck can fix filesystem issues. Use the command sudo fsck_msdos -fy /dev/disk2, replacing /dev/disk2 with your SD card identifier.

Use Disk Utility to check the health. Select the card, click on Info, and review the information displayed for any potential signs of trouble.

Yes, reformatting can fix a corrupted SD card. Use Disk Utility, select the card, click on Erase, choose the format, and confirm.

Always use the eject function before removing the SD card. Avoid using the card in multiple devices frequently and ensure you have reliable backups.

Signs include inability to read/write data, error messages during operation, disappearing files, or the card not showing up in Finder or Disk Utility.For safe navigation to more solutions, please visit Apple or Apple Support.