How to format SD cards on Mac

How to format SD cards on Mac

If you are wondering how you can format your cameras SD card or prepare storage for your Raspberry Pi mini PC operating system or similar, using your Apple Mac computer. You will know that it is very easy to format an SD card on the macOS system, especially if your Mac has an integrated SD card slot reader. This quick guide will show you how format SD card using Mac desktop or laptop computer.

Secure Digital or SD is a proprietary non-volatile flash memory card format developed by the SD Association (SDA) for use in portable devices. SD storage cards it can be used for a multitude of different applications from cameras to personal computers, offering an affordable storage solution available in a wide range of different capacities.

SD cards provide a convenient way to store and transport data, photos, media and documents, as well as quickly load different operating systems on different systems such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino microcontrollers.

Using an SD card reader, the small storage cards can be read using a spare USB port or via a hub. Apple has also included SD card slots in its new range of MacBook Pro laptops this year, making it even easier to access photos and videos from your camera or format SD cards for other applications.

Format SD cards on Mac

Whether it’s your smartphone, Raspberry Pi mini PC, Arduino project, digital camera or games console, you may need to format an SD card or micro SD card on your Mac for a variety of reasons. Preparing a card for use using your Mac computer is extremely easy. But there are some options to be aware of when formatting an SD card for the first time on a Mac. Also, don’t forget formatting the SD or micro SD card will erase all the data on your SD or micro SD card, so be careful to back up any data you may have ask to keep before formatting your SD card.

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Correct format to choose

On our Mac computer the “Disk Utilities” application provided by Apple on every Mac formatting our SD card. If you have an older iMac or MacBook laptop, you may already have an integrated 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 an SD card USB-C adapter that you can slot into a spare USB-C port. To format the smaller form factor microSD cards, you will also need an SD card size adapter into which you will insert the smaller microSD as in the image below.

Once your card has been inserted into your Mac computer, either directly or via an SD card adapter, press the ‘Order‘ and ‘Space‘ button on your Mac keyboard to open “Spotlight search” and type “Disk Utilities” to find and launch the application, as in the image above.

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Using Disk Utility

Mac SD card format

On the left side of the Disk Utility application, you will see your drives listed. Be careful to select the correct drive for the SD card you are formatting. A quick check can be done by removing and reinserting the memory card to see which drive disappears and reappears as your Mac reads the card. Right clicking on your selected SD card drive will provide a list of options with ‘Delete’ listed at the bottom of the page. ‘Erase’ is the option we will choose to format our SD card on Mac.

A popup 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 problems reading special characters used when naming SD Card names, just stick to the alphanumeric characters and you’ll be fine.

When formatting a card, you are given four ‘Format’ options on a Mac: MacOS Extended (Magazine)Mac OS Extended (Case Sensitive, Journal), MS-DOS (FAT) and ExFAT. If you are going to use the formatted SD card ONLY on computers running Apples macOS, then the Extended OS formats are your choice. The only difference between the two is the ‘Case Sensitive’ option, which takes capitalization into account, so ABC and abc are considered different names in the case sensitive option. In the case-insensitive MacOS Extended (Journal) format, they are considered the same.

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If you are going to use your SD card in a digital camera, Windows PC, Android smartphone or Raspberry Pi mini PC for example and the capacity of the SD card is more than 64 GB and you are formatting the SD card on a Mac system running modern system. macOS operating system version : you will use macOS Apple Lion and above exFAT option. For older Macs and smaller SD card sizes use the MS-DOS (FAT32) option.

SD card format instructions :

  1. Open the Disk utility app on Mac
  2. Select the correct SD card drive
  3. Name your SD card
  4. Choose your desired Format Type : ExFAT general purpose – Mac computers only : MacOS Extended (Magazine)
  5. Press the “Destruction” button
  6. Wait for the Format SD card on Mac to carry out
  7. Remove your newly formatted SD card from your computer

Filed Under: Apple, Guides

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