Recover Files From an SD Card on Mac in 5 Simple Steps (Proven)

Jeff Cochin
Written by
N. Lankevitch for pandorarecovery

recover files from sd card mac

Many Mac users take a lot of photos with digital cameras and mobile devices. Quite often, they make use of an SD card to take more pictures by extending the equipment’s storage capacity. While this is a good strategy, there is always the chance that something could happen which requires you to recover files from an SD card on your Mac. We are going to show you a five-step process that can recover lost data from an SD card.

How to Recover Deleted Files from an SD Card on Mac

Step 1: Learn the Basics

The first step is the most critical one if you want to have a reasonable chance of recovering files from a corrupt or formatted SD card. macOS doesn’t erase a file when you delete it, but merely marks its space as available for use. Therefore, you need to stop using the compact storage device immediately to avoid files being overwritten. Failure to follow this recommendation will greatly reduce the probability that you can rescue any data from the card. Once a file has been overwritten, you will not be able to recover it with a software solution.

Step 2: Install Disk Drill

Next, you need to get the Disk Drill data recovery software on your Mac. You might have searched for how to recover deleted files from an SD card on Mac for free and found references to the tool. It will review the files you can recover at no cost so you know your chances of success in advance.
Download the tool from the CleverFiles website and install it on your computer. You will be prompted to provide your Administrator’s password to allow the app to make changes to your computer. You can safely provide the credentials. Disk Drill does not make any changes when you instruct it to recover lost or deleted data.
install disk drill for mac

Step 3: Connect Your SD Card to a Computer

The next step is to attach the SD card to your computer. This can be done by connecting the device that contains the card directly to your machine or by using a card reader such as the one built into your Mac or MacBook. Once the connection is made, launch Disk Drill and select the card from the list of disks that the application recognizes.
start scan your device

Step 4: Scan Your Memory Card using Disk Drill

After selecting the card from the disk list presented by Disk Drill, you are ready to scan it for recoverable data. Simply click the Recover button to begin scanning the corrupted card. You can allow the software to use all of its scanning methods or restrict it to a quick scan to minimize the time required to complete the procedure. When the scan finishes, you can preview the files that can be recovered before proceeding with the full recovery.
preview founded files

Step 5: Perform Data Recovery

Choose the files that you want to restore from the preview list provided by Disk Drill. You will also select a new storage location where the recovered data will be stored. Do not use the SD card to save the data. This could lead to data corruption or files being overwritten before they are recovered. Save the files to a location on your main drive or a different external disk. Click Recover a second time to complete the recovery process.
complete recover your files

Wrapping Up

By following the steps described above, you stand a good chance of recovering lost data from a memory card. Here is a summary.

To recover deleted files from SD card on Mac you need to:

  1. Stop using the card to preserve its data.
  2. Download and install Disk Drill.
  3. Connect the SD card and launch the application.
  4. Scan the card to determine which files can be recovered.
  5. Perform the recovery to get back the lost data.
free data recovery software Disk Drill for Windows & macOS Free Download

By following these simple steps you can recover your deleted photos and files from a memory card.

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Have you lost or accidentally deleted files from your SD card? Don’t despair! In this article, we explain how you can get them back in a matter of minutes.

Why You Should Go With Disk Drill

You will find several choices when searching for ways to recover files from an SD card on Mac for free. Disk Drill offers advantages over the other applications that make it your best choice in data recovery software. It can recover deleted data from any disk-based storage media from flash drives to your Mac’s main internal disk. The application features an intuitive interface that is suitable for users of any experience level.

recover files from sd card mac with disk drill

A great reason to use Disk Drill to recover deleted files from an SD card on Mac is the free data recovery tools included with the application. Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery offer enhanced protection for your valuable files. Disk Drill’s advanced scanning algorithms can recover data in over 400 formats. It’s a robust data recovery application that currently offers both Windows and Mac solutions for the price of a single license.

Let’s take a look at possible Disk Drill alternatives on Mac:

There are alternatives to Disk Drill. None of them have the free data protection tools and advanced features of Disk Drill. Here is a quick look at some other applications that can also recover deleted data from a memory card.

1. Easeus Data Recovery Wizard for Mac

recover photos from sd card mac by easeus

This data recovery tool has versions available for both the Mac and Windows platforms. It can help you recover data from SD cards as well as other types of storage media.


  • Expensive yearly subscription model
  • Lack of free data protection tools
  • Windows and Mac tools need to be purchased separately

2. Stellar Mac Data Recovery Professional

recover deleted files from sd card mac via stellar

Here is another serviceable alternative to DiskDrill that can get lost data back from SD cards, emptied Trash bins, and many other disk-based storage devices.


  • Lack of free data protection tools
  • Can only be activated on one computer
  • Windows and Mac tools need to be purchased separately

3. Wondershare Data Recovery for Mac

recover files from sd card mac by wondershare

The last alternative we will mention is Wondershare Data Recovery. It offers users a data recovery tool that will address most of the data loss scenarios they will encounter with their Mac.


  • Lack of free data protection tools

Most Common Memory Card Data Loss Causes

You can lose data from an SD card for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes of losing an important file or video from a memory card are:

  • Human error – Accidentally deleting files or formatting the wrong card are the primary reasons for lost data across all types of storage media, including SD cards. It’s easy to click the wrong button on a digital camera and delete all of your images. The cards are small and can easily get lost if you are careless.
  • Viruses and Malware – Destructive malware and virus attacks can also result in the need to undelete files from a corrupted SD card.
  • Physical damage – SD cards are not indestructible and are subject to physical damage if not handled carefully. The connections can be damaged by forcing a card into a slot.

Protect your SD Card From Accidental Data Loss

Here are a few tips to protect your SD card from accidental data loss.

  • Label the cards to minimize the chances that you will format the wrong one.
  • Don’t connect the card to strange devices or computers to reduce the possibility of malware infection.
  • Consider carrying the cards in a case rather than your pocket to limit physical damage.
  • Take care when inserting and removing the card to avoid damaging the contacts.

Did You Know?

CPRM – Content Protection for Recordable Media – provides the method of copyright protection for the content on SD cards. Not all cards have this technology implemented. Attempting to use a non-CPRM compliant card in a device expecting a CPRM card will often result in error messages and the inability to record on the media. The messages differ for the SD-Video, SD-Binding, and SD-Audio standards.


Jeff Cochin
Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery professional, who has been with Pandorarecovery for nine years and has always been an essential part of the team. Jeff also works as a technical writer at Macgasm, being a first hand in testing, trying and writing about big and small tech software.
N. Lankevitch for pandorarecovery
Approved by
Over 15 years strong experience in various fields and platform includes Disaster Recovery, Windows XP/7. System analysis, design, application (Inter/Intranet) development and testing. Provided technical supports on desktop and laptops on Win-XP and Macintosh for about 2000 employees.