[Free Solved] 7 Ways to Recover Deleted Files from SD Card on Mac & PC

Connie Wisley
July 11, 2023 Preview 24.5K Preview 3
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SD Card is designed to extend memory capacity for portable and mobile devices, such as digital video camcorders, digital cameras, audio players, mobile phones...Therefore, SD cards are widely used and it is much likely that anyone of us just have an SD card inserted in our device.

We use SD card so often that it becomes common when we lost files from SD card due to various reasons. Whatever the reason, there is no need to panic. With a range of solutions available, we are here to help you recover deleted files, including photos, from your SD Card on Mac or Windows.

Best SD Card Recovery Software for Mac/PC

We all hope it never happens, but we just got the SD card files mistakenly deleted on Mac/Windows and lost them. You might have tried to find back the deleted files from Mac Trash/Windows Recycle Bin but found nothing, because deleted SD card files won’t be moved to Trash/Recycle Bin like the way deleted files on computer start up drive are moved there and can be put back later. We need a professional data recovery tool to restore the deleted files from SD card.

Luckily, there are so many tools available and Cisdem Data Recovery is the best from a definitive list of top data recovery programs. 

Cisdem Data Recovery makes data recovery easy, combing quick scan and deep scan to find the most deleted files from both internal and external storage device, with a full set of features, like video repair, file filter, file preview, recover to cloud, etc. to speed up and simplify the overall recovery process.

It offers the most comprehensive data recovery solution for all kinds of data loss scenarios: deleting, formatting, system crash, macOS upgrade or downgrade, partition or repartition, virus attack and other known or unknown reasons. It supports recovering 1000+ types of files, including videos, audios, images, documents, emails, archives or others from Mac/Windows, external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, media player and so on.

How to Recover Deleted Files (Photos Included) from SD Card on Mac/Windows?

  1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery.
    Free Download macOS 10.11 or later Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7
  2. Connect the SD Card to your computer using a card reader.
  3. Run Cisdem Data Recovery and choose the SD Card to start scanning.recover sd card mac cisdem 01
  4. All the found files will be listed. To recover deleted files from SD card, you can go to Type and choose the specific file folder, search by file name and double click on the file to preview it before recovery.recover sd card mac cisdem 02
  5. Select all the files you want to restore and click on Recover to get them back to local drive or to cloud.recover sd card mac cisdem 03

How to Recover Deleted Files from SD Card for Free on Mac/Windows?

Many SD card users are seeking avenues to recover deleted files from SD card for free. Here we will dig out several free SD card recovery tips that are potentially working for Mac and PC.

A. Free SD Card Recovery on Mac

1# Recover Files from SD Card's Trash Folder on Mac

As mentioned earlier, files deleted from SD card won’t go into Mac Trash. However, a fact few people know is that Mac can create a hidden Trash folder for external storage media. You’re able to access this Trash folder once your SD card was connected with Mac during file deletion.

How to Recover Deleted Files from SD Card’s Trash Folder on Mac?
  1. Go to Finder > your SD card’s root folder.
  2. Press Command + Shift + > to reveal hidden files, and Trashes folder might show up.sd card trash folder
  3. Open the Trashes folder, find your deleted file, select and restore it back to the SD card.

If you can’t find the Trashes folder of your SD card, just proceed to other methods as following.

2# Recover Files from SD Card on Mac Using Terminal

Speaking of recovering files with Terminal, you may be wondering if it works. Actually, with Terminal alone, you can recover deleted files from Mac Trash only, you won’t be able to recover deleted files from an SD Card. But with the help of PhotoRec, we will be able to do this.

PhotoRec is an open source data recovery program for Mac users, it uses command line to recover more than 400 types of files, ranging from photo, video, archive to documents. It is not easy to use, even though you don’t have to know much about command lines, you need to input and move between the codes carefully, any errors will lead to failed recovery.

How to Recover Deleted Files from SD Card Free on Mac with Terminal?
  1. Download and install PhotoRec on your Mac.
  2. Insert the SD Card to your Mac or connect them with a card reader.
  3. Launch the program with Terminal, you need to enter Mac password to continue. recover sd card mac free 01
  4. Select the SD Card where you want to restore deleted files on Mac, press Enter. recover sd card mac free 02
  5. Choose Partition type and press Enter.
  6. Choose File System and press Enter.
  7. Choose the output folder to save the restored files from SD card and press C to start the process. Then check the folder to view the recovered SD Card photos or other files.recover sd card mac free 03

3# Recover Files from SD Card on Mac with iCloud Backup

If you have a good habit of backing up files regularly, it should be pointed out that we can recover deleted files from SD Card with backup, so that you don’t have to download any extra apps and get SD card files back without software. 

Cloud services are nowadays favored by a majority of people for uploading and backing up their folders and files, which can greatly save storage space of their local devices. Mostly, Mac users will prefer iCloud. If you have done this, please refer to the following steps to do free SD card data recovery on Mac.

  1. Go to icloud.com and sign in with your Apple account.
  2. Find and click Data Recovery section to enter.recover sd card files icloud 01
  3. Choose “Restore Files”. If you have deleted the back up files recently, select the deleted files and click Restore to recover your SD card files.recover sd card files icloud 02

B. Free SD Card Recovery on Windows

1# Recover Files from SD Card on Windows Using CMD

Similar to Terminal on Mac, Command Prompt (CMD) on Windows can also be one of solutions in data recovery from storage devices like SD memory card. Since this program involves command line as well, proceed with caution to recover deleted files from SD card by CMD.

How to Recover Deleted Files from SD Card on Windows with Command Prompt?
  1. Connect your SD card with the PC via a card reader.
  2. Type cmd into the Windows search bar > select “Run as administrator” to launch it.recover sd card files cmd 01
  3. Type the following command: attrib -h -r -s /s /d C:\*.* > press enter to execute it. C is the exampled drive letter, and you are supposed to replace it with the drive letter of your own SD card.recover sd card files cmd 02
  4. After the procedure done, restart your computer and open the SD card. You might see the deleted files again.

2# Recover Files from SD Card on Windows with OneDrive

Alternatively, as a backup solution, most PC users will choose OneDrive. In case you have back ed up the SD card data with OneDrive service, deleted files can be retrieved without effort.

  1. Log into OneDrive online.
  2. Specify the folder where your files from SD card are backed up and saved.recover sd card files onedrive
  3. Open it to find the files > download them back to your SD card again.

Which SD Card Brand You Are Using? It Has Data Recovery Software Too

Which SD Card brand you are using? It is much likely you will use one of these brands: SanDisk, Lexar, Transcend, Samsung, Sony. If your SD Card is produced by these manufactures, then you can search on their official websites and check if they offer data recovery software for lost file on your SD Card. For example, SanDisk recommends using its SanDisk Rescue for data retrieval. Here we will take SanDisk as an example to recover deleted photos from SD Card. Surely, it supports recovering other files, like documents, mails, videos, music, database, archives, etc.

How to Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card on Mac/Windows?

  1. Download and install SanDisk RescuePro Deluxe on your computer.
  2. Insert the SD Card to your computer or connect them with a card reader.
  3. Launch the program, select an action, here we choose Recover Photos. recover sd card mac sandisk 01
  4. Select the SD Card and click Start to start the scanning. recover sd card mac sandisk 02
  5. Preview the photos and put them back to your local drive or SD Card. recover sd card mac sandisk 03

FAQ about SD Card

Transfer Files Between Different SD Cards

Using the proper way to transfer files between SD cards is necessary to ensure the data in the cards. For mac users, if you’re about to do this, you should firstly prepare an SD Card slot on your Mac or a commercially available SD card reader/writer, and then follow the step-by-step instructions.

  1. Insert the SD card into the SD card slot or an SD card reader/writer and open Finder to access the card.
  2. Highlight the data and drag it to the desktop.
  3. Eject the first SD card and insert the second SD card into the slot or reader/writer.
  4. Using Finder, locate and access the SD card again.
  5. Drag the data from the desktop to the second SD card.

Backup Data in SD Card using Mac

As we all know, traditional hard drives are made up of tiny moving parts. All it takes for disaster to strike is for one of those parts to go awry and it's curtains for your documents. Therefore, in order to make a backup copy of your SD card, an easy and reliable way is to use some backup software. You can learn more about these applications in “Mac Backup Software Reviews”.

Surely, if you want to use Mac instead of any other software for the backup, it is also possible to realize by following the steps below.

  1. Insert your card into the card receiver and then click on “Applications” > “Utilities” > “Disk Utility”.
  2. Select your SD card, and click “New image”.
  3. In the next save option window, give your backup a name and location and let “Disk Utility” run. After a while, the finished .dmg (disk image) will be shown on the desktop. It can now be duplicated and saved as a backup of your SD card.

Safely Format Your SD Card on Mac

In general, the main reason for formatting an SD card specifically is to create a bootable startup disk, the one containing the OS that you run from. Macs can read and write to SD cards formatted for almost any device, but you may want to reformat an SD card, either to change its compatibility or to erase everything and start over. After you have connected your card with your Mac and backed up the important files to your Mac’s hard drive, you can then follow the steps to safely format your SD card on Mac.

  1. Click on “Applications” > “Utilities” > “Disk Utility” or use ”Shift + Command + U” from the Finder. Choose your SD card from the list of mounted drives on the left.
  2. Select ”Erase” from the options across the top of the main part of the window.
  3. Find your desired format from the drop-down menu and then click the ”Erase” button on the bottom to start the formatting.


If there is no back up for the deleted files on your SD card, the best way to restore them is using a professional data recovery program like Cisdem Data Recovery. It designs a comprehensive solution for various data loss from your SD Card, USB, media player, external hard drive and other storage devices connecting to your computer.

Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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Comments (3) Leave a Reply

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  • Gomez

    Very detailed tips. I used to format an sd card in my Cannon only to find all photos deleted without backup. Remember to back up!!!

    7 years ago Reply

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  • Stewart


    8 years ago Reply

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  • Thibault

    Brilliant article about handling on sd cards... With so many sd cards in use, it's worth for me to learn some right tips...

    8 years ago Reply

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