How to Unformat SD Card on Windows, Mac, Android (Freeware Included)

Peter William
time December 21, 2021 Preview 6.0K
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Sometimes we just mistakenly hit the Format button or not properly format a SD Card after getting the message “You need to format the disk in drive XXX before you can use it.”, and then we lost all important files stored on the SD Card, like family photos, confidential documents, precious videos, etc. There is no function to directly reverse or undo the SD Card formatting, but we can still unformat a SD Card by recovering data from formatted SD card with tools. 

Now, let’s see how to unformat SD card on Mac, Windows, Android, there is freeware available for this task.

Can We Unformat A SD Card without Losing Data?

Most people think formatting SD card on computes, phones, camera, etc. would remove all the data from it instantly. But actually, your files won’t disappear immediately, the formatting just restores your memory card to default setting and marked the SD Card as blank.

In other words, the formatted SD Card will write the boot sector and the empty file system to the partition, and will be filled with new data until all previous formatted files are overwritten. Your file has not yet been completely deleted and you still have the chance to unformat SD card. Any operation might overwrite the existing data, which gives rise to permanent data loss. Before unformatting SD card, please stop using it.

How to Unformat SD Card on Mac?

Here we will recommend 2 programs to unformat SD Card on Mac, using Cisdem Data Recovery, the most reliable formatted SD Card recovery program and using Photorec, the freeware for restoring data from SD card. You can choose the one meeting your needs the most.

Using Cisdem Data Recovery

With the aid of Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac, you can carry on SD card unformatting yourself, without asking an expert. As the best unformat memory card software, it can recover files from internal and external hard disk, SD cards, USB flash drive, mobile photos, game console, whatever be the device that connect to your Mac.

It offers quick and deep data recovery modes dedicated to different data loss scenario: deletion, formatting, partition loss, repartition, virus attack, system crash, macOS update or downgrade, etc. Cisdem allows preview recoverable items before recovery too, saving your time and space to recover unwanted files.

How to Unformat SD Card on Mac Using Cisdem?

  1. Connect the SD Card to your Mac with a card reader.
  2. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on your Mac.
    Free Download
  3. Select a location.
    Go to Disk Data Recovery and choose SD Card that you have formatted.unformat sd card cisdem 01
  4. Start scanning the card.
    Click on Scan to start the process. Go to Type and check files in a specific folder, or you can use the filter tool to quickly search files.unformat sd card cisdem 02
  5. Preview and recover files to get SD card unformatted.
    You can double click on the file to preview. Then select the files you want to recover and click on Recover button to restore formatted sd card data on Mac.unformat sd card cisdem 03

Using PhotoRec

PhotoRec is an open source data recovery program developed for recovering lost files from hard disks, memory cards, CD-ROM. It works in Windows, macOS, Linux ecosystem and supports virtually all file systems: FAT, NTFS, exFAT, HFS+…

Though PhotoRec uses read-only principle to read the drive and card which makes it is safe to use, it uses commands to recover files, users will have to use the arrows keys to make options when the commands run in Terminal app. It is not user friendly, but useful to get the files back from a formatted sd card.

How to Unformat SD Card on Mac Using Freeware PhotoRec?

  1. Connect the SD Card to your Mac with a card reader.
  2. Download and install PhotoRec on your Mac.
  3. Open the program and enter your user password to run PhotoRec on your Mac. unformat sd card mac free01
  4. Select sd card from the disk list and press Enter to continue. unformat sd card mac free 02
  5. Select the Partition and press Enter to continue. unformat sd card mac free 03
  6. Select file system and press Enter to continue. unformat sd card mac free 04
  7. Then select the destination to save recovered files and press C to launch the PhotoRec recovery process. Check the recovered files in the destination folder.

How to Unformat an SD Card on Windows?

Just like the solutions to unformat SD Card on Mac, here we recommend 2 tools to unformat SD Card on Windows too. One is using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, the best-in-class Windows data recovery program, and another is using Recuva, the best freeware for Windows data recovery.

Using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is an easy, approachable program that can be utilized by any novices. It can unformat SD card on Windows 11, 10, 8, etc. Besides SD card, it’s capable of unformatting hard drives, SSD, USB drives, removable media. It supports recovering data from BitLocker encrypted drives too. No matter your lost files are photos, videos, documents, emails or other critical files, EaseUS can get them back. In addition, EaseUs offers bootable media version, which can create a bootable USB for data recovery when the system won't start or just crashes.

How to Unformat SD Card on Windows Using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro?

  1. Insert the SD Card to the proper card slot or via card adapter to your Windows PC.
  2. Download and install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your Windows PC.
  3. Choose the SD Card.easeus windows 01
  4. Scan SD Card to find the formatted files on Windows.easeus windows 02
  5. Preview the found files and select them to Recover.easeus windows 03

Using Recuva

Unformating SD Card on Windows with freeware is another way to go if you want to get the formatted files back for free. By far, the best free SD Card unformat tool is Recuva from Piriform Software. It helps recover deleted and formatted files from Windows drive, recycle bin, digital camera card, media player and so on. Beside the free version, Recuva offers Pro version too, with extra features like virtual hard drive support, automatic updates and premium support. You can also check the full review on Recuva and decide if it is necessary to upgrade to the Pro version.

How to Unformat SD Card on Windows Using Freeware Recuva?

  1. Insert the SD Card to the proper card slot or via card adapter to your Windows PC.
  2. Download and install Recuva free version to your Windows.
  3. Choose the file type and location to recover files from your SD Card and click Start to start scanning. unformat sd card free windows 01
  4. Select files that you want to recover from formatted SD Card.
  5. Click on Recover to restore the formatted data from your SD Card. unformat sd card free windows 02

How to Unformat SD Card on Android Phone without Computer?

On Android phones, you can directly unformat the SD Card without computer, with the help of a Android SD Card recovery application. There are many options available in Google Play, we tested several high-ranking apps and pick the best for you: Photo Recovery developed by Daniel Braga.

The program can undelete photos, SMS, videos, documents and other files from both Android SD Card & internal storage, no rooting will be required and your files are still safe on your Android phone.

Unformat SD Card on Android without Computer

  1. In Google Play, install SD Card Recovery app to your Android phone.
  2. Tap the Scan button to start finding formatted files on your Android sd card.unformat sd card android 01
  3. Check the found files and select them, them click Restore to unformat Android sd card.unformat android sd card 02

Tips: How to Fix Memory Card Unformat Error?

Unformat error is one of the common errors, which doesn’t delete files from SD card but disables you to read or write the data. Consequently, to fix the memory card unformatted error, some measures should be taken.

  1. Try another devices. That because the type of the memory chip may be inconsistent with or misread by your device.
  2. SD card might be infected with the virus. It is wise to download a powerful anti-virus program to scan the memory card.
  3. You can check if your SD card is write-protected. If so, remove the write protection, as it can also cause the memory card unformatted error.
  4. Make quite sure all drivers on your computer are compatible with the memory card. If not, update them.
  5. For phone users, simply reboot the phone and attempt to boot the phone to Safe Mode.
  6. Check it over for bad sectors. If your SD card contains bad sector, you are unable to access the data.
  7. Memory card unformatted error keeps you from acquiring the file on SD card. Data recovery software can act as the go-between, fixing and recovering the files on your card.
  8. For serious physical damage, you can only contact with manufacturer or purchase a brand new memory card.


Backup is always the best solution for all kinds of data loss. Thus, we should keep good habit of backup by copying your important files to multi-devices, even to cloud devices.

Peter William
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Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.

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