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How to Recover Mac Files from SD Card

How to Recover Mac Files from SD Card

There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing that important files on your SD card have been accidentally deleted or corrupted. Whether it’s precious photos, crucial work documents, or other vital data, it can feel like all hope is lost. But don’t worry! With the right tools and methods, you can recover those files effectively and efficiently. In this detailed guide, I’ll walk you through the steps of how to recover Mac files from SD card using various methods, starting with the highly recommended Disk Drill.


Common Scenarios:

Accidentally Deleted Files 🗑

  • It happens to the best of us. You’re sorting through files on your SD card and accidentally delete the wrong ones.
  • These could be crucial work documents, memorable photos, or other important data.
  • Fortunately, there are ways to recover deleted files, ensuring that nothing truly valuable is lost forever.

Corrupted SD Card 😰

  • An SD card can become corrupted due to various reasons such as removal without proper ejection, exposure to water, or even age.
  • This corruption can lead to inaccessibility of the stored data, making it seem like the files are lost.
  • Various recovery methods and tools can help you retrieve the data from a corrupted SD card.

Formatted SD Card 📁

  • Sometimes, formatting is done by mistake, or the SD card requires formatting due to corruption or errors.
  • Even after formatting, the files are not necessarily gone forever and can often be recovered with the right approach.
  • Methods like using recovery software can bring back your seemingly lost files.

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Recover Mac Files From SD Card:

Method 1: Disk Drill 💽

  • First, download and install Disk Drill from its official website.
  • Insert your SD card into the Mac using an appropriate card reader.
  • Open Disk Drill and select the SD card from the list of available drives.
  • Click on ‘Recover’ and let Disk Drill scan the SD card for recoverable files.
  • Once the scan is complete, review the found files and choose which ones to recover. Save them to a different location than the SD card.
  • For a detailed guide on using Disk Drill, you can visit the Disk Drill official website.

Note: Disk Drill offers both free and paid versions with different levels of functionality.

Conclusion: Disk Drill is an excellent tool for SD card recovery, combining ease of use with powerful recovery capabilities.

Method 2: PhotoRec 🖼

  • Download and install PhotoRec from its official website.
  • Insert your SD card into the Mac using an appropriate card reader.
  • Open PhotoRec and select the SD card from the list of available drives.
  • Choose the file types you want to recover and begin the scanning process.
  • After the scan, select the files you wish to recover and save them to a different location than the SD card.
  • For more details, check out the PhotoRec official website.

Note: PhotoRec is open-source software and free to use, making it a good choice for those who don’t want to spend money on recovery tools.

Conclusion: PhotoRec is a reliable option for those comfortable with a somewhat more technical interface.

Method 3: Data Recovery Services 🏢

  • If DIY methods fail, professional data recovery services might be your best bet.
  • Research and find a trusted data recovery service provider.
  • Send your SD card to them and explain the problem in detail.
  • They will use specialized tools and techniques to recover your lost files.

Note: Professional services can be expensive, and the cost varies based on the complexity of the recovery.

Conclusion: Data recovery services are a reliable but potentially costly method for recovering important files when other methods don’t work.

Method 4: Time Machine ⏳

  • If you have been backing up your files using Time Machine, recover your files from there.
  • Connect the Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  • Open the folder where the SD card files were stored.
  • Enter Time Machine and navigate to the date before the deletion occurred.
  • Click ‘Restore’ to retrieve the lost files.
  • Visit Apple Support for detailed instructions on using Time Machine backups.

Note: Time Machine is an excellent tool for preventing data loss but requires regular backups.

Conclusion: Time Machine is a straightforward solution if you’ve been diligent about creating backups.

Method 5: Terminal Commands 👨

  • Open Terminal on your Mac.
  • Insert the SD card into your Mac using an appropriate card reader.
  • Run the command ‘diskutil list’ to identify the SD card.
  • Use the command ‘dd if=/dev/diskX of=/path/to/save.img’, replacing diskX with the identifier of your SD card and /path/to/save.img with your desired save location.
  • Navigate to the image file you created and use additional recovery software on this file.
  • For a complete list of Terminal commands, visit SS64.

Note: Terminal commands are advanced and should be used with caution to avoid further data loss.

Conclusion: Terminal commands provide a powerful way to recover files for advanced users comfortable with command-line tools.

Method 6: R-Photo 🌷

  • Download and install R-Photo from the official website.
  • Insert your SD card into the Mac using an appropriate card reader.
  • Open R-Photo and choose the SD card from the list of available drives.
  • Click on ‘Scan’ and allow the software to locate recoverable files.
  • Review the found files and save them to a different location.
  • For more guidance, head over to the R-Photo official website.

Note: R-Photo is free but offers limited features compared to paid solutions.

Conclusion: R-Photo is a user-friendly tool for recovering photos and other multimedia files from SD cards.

Method 7: iBoysoft Data Recovery 🧑

  • Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery from its official website.
  • Insert your SD card into the Mac using an appropriate card reader.
  • Open iBoysoft and select the SD card from the list of available drives.
  • Click ‘Next’ and allow the program to scan for recoverable files.
  • Once the scan is complete, choose the files you want to recover and save them to a different location.
  • Detailed instructions can be found on the iBoysoft Data Recovery official website.

Note: iBoysoft offers a free trial with limited functionality, and a paid version with full features.

Conclusion: iBoysoft Data Recovery combines user-friendliness with efficient file recovery, making it a great option.

Method 8: Stellar Data Recovery 🌟

  • Download and install Stellar Data Recovery from the official website.
  • Insert your SD card into the Mac using an appropriate card reader.
  • Open Stellar and select the SD card from the list of available drives.
  • Run the scan and wait for it to identify recoverable files.
  • Review the results and save your desired files to a different location.
  • Check the Stellar Data Recovery official website for more tips and instructions.

Note: Stellar offers both free and premium versions with varying levels of features.

Conclusion: Stellar Data Recovery is a robust solution with a user-friendly interface and strong recovery capabilities.


Watch on Youtube: How to Recover Mac Files from SD Card


Precautions and Tips:

Prevent Data Loss in the Future with These Tips 💡

  • Regularly back up important files to avoid permanent loss.
  • Handle SD cards with care to avoid physical damage.
  • Ensure proper ejection of SD cards from devices to prevent data corruption.
  • Use reputable antivirus software to protect your SD card from malware.
  • Consider using cloud storage for additional backup.

Extended Recovery Insights

When dealing with the recovery of lost files from an SD card on a Mac, it’s essential to be aware of a few critical factors that may influence the recovery process. First and foremost, the sooner you attempt to recover the files after noticing their absence, the higher the chances of success. This is because new data written to the SD card can overwrite the deleted files, making them irrecoverable.

Secondly, always ensure you use a reliable SD card reader. A faulty reader can cause issues in recognizing the card or even risk further data corruption. For more detailed guidance on selecting the correct reader, you can refer to TechRadar’s guide on the best SD card readers.

Furthermore, users might consider using encrypted SD cards for critical data. This can add an extra layer of security, ensuring that even if the card falls into the wrong hands, the data remains protected. Encrypted SD cards require specific software for access and recovery, and for more information, you can check out Lifewire’s list of the best encryption software.

Last but not least, software updates play an integral role in the functionality and effectiveness of recovery tools. Always ensure that the recovery software you are using is up-to-date. Software developers frequently release updates that fix bugs, enhance performance, and add support for new file systems. To stay informed about the latest updates and software recommendations, visiting forums like Reddit’s Data Recovery page can be beneficial.


Recovering files from an SD card on a Mac doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With the right tools and methods, most lost files can be recovered quickly and efficiently. This guide explored a variety of methods from professional data recovery software like Disk Drill and PhotoRec to using built-in solutions like Time Machine and advanced techniques such as Terminal commands. Additionally, we provided some essential tips to prevent data loss in the future.

For an in-depth exploration about Mac file recovery, you can refer to this detailed SD Card Recovery on Mac (Article on Medium). Ensuring regular backups and handling your SD cards with care can save you from a lot of trouble.

In conclusion, whether you’re facing accidentally deleted files, a corrupted SD card, or a formatted card, there’s a solution out there for you. Always remember the importance of acting quickly to maximize your chances of a successful recovery.


Begin by connecting the SD card to your Mac using an adapter or card reader. Once connected, verify it appears in your Finder or Disk Utility.

First, confirm your card reader's connection. If the problem persists, try restarting your Mac or using a different card reader to test the SD card.

Yes, but primarily for repairing the SD card. Open Disk Utility, select the card, and pick First Aid to check and repair possible errors.

Several recovery software options are available, like Disk Drill or EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, which are compatible with macOS. These tools scan and recover lost files.

Yes, if you have a backup. Using Time Machine or another backup solution allows you to restore from previous backups instead of using recovery software.

Connect your backup drive and enter Time Machine using the icon in the menu bar. Browse the timeline and restore your files from the backup.

Physical damage may necessitate professional help. Services specializing in data recovery can help recover data from physically damaged SD cards. Check local data recovery services for assistance.

Create regular backups using Time Machine or other backup utilities. Additionally, handle SD cards carefully to avoid physical and data corruption.

Yes, incorrect file permissions can hinder access. Use Disk Utility to verify and repair disk permissions on your SD card if needed.

For more detailed guides, visit EaseUS or Disk Drill for comprehensive resources on recovering Mac files from SD cards.