How to Quickly Format SD Card on Mac.
Mac users are often creative, including photographers and videographers. This means that you probably have a whole bunch of SD cards lying around or inside your cameras and other devices. From time to time, SD cards can fail and need to be formatted.
Fortunately, this is something you can do on your Mac, but it may not be entirely obvious how. Let’s walk through the process of formatting an SD card on a Mac and everything you need to know to safely complete this task.
Warning! Formatting Erases All Data!
Yes, you probably already know that. But it must be said. If you didn’t know, formatting will erase all data on the SD card. So if you have the opportunity and the data on the card matters, make a backup somewhere.
Also, double check that you are actually formatting the SD card and not another drive such as a USB stick or external hard drive. Make sure you select the correct drive letter!
When to Format an SD Card
Formatting a disk, which includes an SD card, changes the structure of the disk so that devices know how to store, retrieve, and delete data. It’s a bit like building library shelves before filling them with books.
This is quite a lot of work and also means that all data on the disk will be lost. So the first situation in which you will format your SD card is when you don’t care about the data that is on the card. Either because you have already created a backup, it is corrupted or you no longer need it.
Data corruption on the SD card means that the problem is with the card or device. It can also happen as a result of a crash or accident. For example, power loss when writing to a card.
If the SD card is still physically ok, you can format it and keep using it. If the card is defective, formatting usually fails. Make it a quick indicator of disk status.
You will also want to format the SD card when you need to use it on a device that requires a different format than the card is currently using. There are different types of formats, each with their own pros and cons. The main thing to consider is whether the device with which you are going to use the SD card can read this format or not. So now we will take a look at which format is best for an SD card.
Which Format Should You Use?
There are various formats you can use for SD cards, but in most cases, either FAT32 or exFAT is the right choice. Most devices and computer operating systems can read any of these formats. The advantage of exFAT is that it supports files larger than 4 GB. Check the manual for the device for which the SD card is intended to make sure you have selected the optimal format.
Do not select any of the macOS journaling formats. They are only suitable for internal Mac drives and external drives that will only be used with Macs where data integrity is also important.
What You Need to Format an SD Card on Mac
If you have a recent MacBook, you probably know that your computer has no ports other than two or four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. Older MacBooks have built-in SD card slots, so using an SD card on these machines is easy. …
If your Mac doesn’t have an SD card slot, you’ll need to buy a USB SD card reader or a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 dock that has one of the ports. Card readers themselves are fairly inexpensive, but docking stations can be quite expensive. So only take the more expensive route if you were going to buy a dock anyway. If you already have a docking station with USB A ports, then a standard USB SD card reader will work fine.
How to Format an SD Card on Mac Using the Disk Utility
The standard method to format an SD card on Mac is to use the built-in Disk Utility. This is quick and easy to do, especially if you know which settings to choose:
- Plug in your SD card reader and insert the SD card into the appropriate slot.
- Open Spotlight Search (Command + Space) and find Disk Utility. Open the app.
- In the left pane, under External, find your SD card. Select it, making sure it is the correct drive.
- Now click on the drive one by one and select “Erase” …
- Give the disk a volume name if you like.
- Select a format, in most cases we recommend exFAT.
- Select your security options and select the level of erasure protection. Higher settings make the data harder to recover, but take longer to format.
- Select “Delete” and wait for the process to complete.
Now you can use the SD card again, provided it is not damaged in any way. If you are unsure, read this article about SD card corruption.
Formatting an SD Card With the Official SD Alliance Application
SD cards are manufactured in accordance with the standards set by the SD Card Alliance. These standards also include a way to format cards for maximum performance and reliability.
Therefore, whether you are using a Windows or Mac computer, Alliance recommends using their formatting application.
- Download and install the application
- Open the application
- Make sure the correct drive letter is selected.
- Select the overwrite format unless you only want to scratch the disk
- Optionally select a volume label
- Choose a format and then continue
You may need to provide an administrator password and confirm multiple permissions before formatting begins. After that, your SD card should be ready to use.
After formatting the SD card, you can reinsert it into the device. Whether it’s your phone, Nintendo Switch, DSLR, surveillance camera, or anything else. Be aware that many of these devices have their own formatting utility built in.
In most cases, it is best to format your card using these built-in utilities. However, if something goes wrong, the initial formatting on your Mac can be a good way to get the card in shape so the device can read and format it.
If after formatting the card still does not work, do not worry. SD cards are great storage devices, but they wear out relatively quickly and can be a little fragile. Never use them permanently. Remember to back up irreplaceable files such as photos to a different location. Cloud storage services like Google Drive or iCloud are probably the safest and most convenient options.
How to Quickly Format SD Card on Mac
How to Quickly Format SD Card on Mac