May 18, 2022

How to Format SD Cards on Your Mac

SD cards provide an affordable way to store and transport data, photographs, media and documents, and load different operating systems. SD cards are supported by a wide range of different devices, from canners to Raspberry Pi mini PCs. This quick guide will show you How to Format an SD Card with a Mac desktop or laptop computer. Using a SD card readersmall storage cards can be read using a spare USB port.

Format cards on Mac

You may need to format an SD card or a micro SD card for several reasons on your Mac, whether it’s for your smartphone, your Raspberry Pi mini PC, your Arduino project, your digital camera or your game console. Preparing a card for use with your Mac computer is extremely easy. But there are a few options to consider when formatting an SD card on Mac for the first time. Also remember that formatting the SD or micro SD card will delete all data on your SD card or micro SD card, so be sure to back up any data you want to keep before formatting your SD card.

Right type of format to choose

On our Mac computer will use the “disk utility” app provided by Apple on all Macs format our SD card. If you have an older iMac or MacBook laptop, you might already have a built-in SD card slot that you can use to easily read and write to your card. If you have a modern MacBook or MacBook Air without an SD card slot, you’ll need a USB-C SD card adapter that you can insert into a spare USB-C port. To format smaller form factor microSD cards, you will also need an SD card sized adapter into which you will insert the smaller microSD, as in the image below.

Once your card is inserted into your Mac computer, either directly or via an SD card adapter, press the ‘Order‘ and ‘Space out‘ on your Mac keyboard to open a “Spotlight search” and type “disk utilityto locate and launch the app, as in the image above.

Using Disk Utility with SD Cards

format sd card on mac

On the left side of the Disk Utility app, you’ll see your drives listed. Be sure to select the correct drive for the SD card you are formatting. A quick check can be done by simply removing the memory card and reinserting it to see which drive disappears and reappears when your Mac reads the card. Right clicking on the SD card reader you have chosen will provide a list of options with “Erase” listed at the bottom. “Erase” is the option we will select to format our SD card on Mac.

A dialog box will then appear allowing you to rename the SD card, keep it simple and don’t use any weird keyboard characters as some operating systems have issues reading the special characters used when naming SD card names , just stick to alphanumeric characters and you’ll be fine.

When formatting a card, four ‘Format’ options are displayed on a Mac: MacOS Extended (Journaled)mac Extended operating system (case sensitive, journaled), MS-DOS (FAT) and ExFAT. If you plan to use the formatted SD card ONLY on computers running Apples macOS, the Extended operating system formats are the choice for you. The only difference between the two is the “case sensitive” option, which takes case into consideration, so ABC and abc are considered different names in the case sensitive option. In MacOS Extended (Journaled) format, which is not case-sensitive, they are considered the same.

If you are going to use your SD card in a digital camera, a Windows PC, an Android smartphone or a Raspberry Pi mini PC for example and the capacity of the SD card is greater than 64 GB and you format the SD card on a Mac system running an operating system version of macOS: apple lion macOS and above you will use the ExFAT option. For older Macs and smaller SD cards, use the MS-DOS (FAT32) option.

Summary quick format:

  1. Open the Disk Utility app on Mac
  2. Select the good SD card reader
  3. Name your SD card
  4. Select your Format type : General Purpose ExFAT – Mac computers only : MacOS Extended (Journaled)
  5. Press the “To erase” button
  6. wait for it Format SD Card on Mac complete
  7. Remove your newly formatted SD card from your computer

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