What is SD?
SD describes devices that conform to SD standards for non-volatile memory cards. See the SD Association website for details.
Are there size limitations for the cards that can be inserted into the SD slot?
Yes. The SD card specification for a memory card is 32mm by 24mm by 2.1mm. You can also use thinner cards, such as MultiMediaCards (MMC). Avoid using cards that have a thickness greater than 2.1mm, as they might damage the SD card slot if you try to insert them.
Which SD card formats work in the SD card slot?
Cards that conform to the SD 1.x, 2.x and 3.x standards should work. The SD card slot can use:
- Standard SD, 4 MB to 2 GB
- SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity), 4 GB to 32 GB
- SDXC, 4 GB to 2 TB
- MMC (MultiMediaCards)
- UHS‑II, up to 2 TB (iMac introduced in 2020 and iMac Pro only)
You can use a passive adaptor like the one shown here to make MiniSD, MicroSD and higher density formats, like MiniSDHC and MicroSDHC, conform to the width and thickness specifications listed above:
How fast can my Mac read or write to an SD card in the SD card slot?
Mac notebooks use the USB bus to communicate with the SD card slot. They have a maximum speed of up to 480Mbit/s. Mac desktops use the PCIe bus to communicate with the SD card slot. Desktops can transfer data at a faster rate.
Check the packaging that came with your SD media to determine the maximum transfer rate that your specific card uses.
To determine the maximum transfer speed of your Mac, you can use System Information. Choose Apple menu > About This Mac and then click System Report.
If you're using a Mac notebook:
- Select Hardware, then select USB.
- Select Internal Memory Card Reader and look for the Speed entry.
If you're using a Mac desktop computer:
- Select Hardware, then select Card Reader.
- Look for the Link Speed entry. Computers that use the PCIe bus express their speed as GT/s.
Does the SD slot work with cards that exceed 32 GB?
Yes. However, most media manufacturers preformat the media using common block-and-cluster sizes that don’t approach the theoretical limits of a given file system.
Most SD cards use the FAT32 file format, and preformatted FAT32 SD media is commonly available up to a capacity of 32 GB. Media that exceeds 32 GB usually uses the exFAT file system, while some smaller capacity cards use the FAT16 file format. Preformatted FAT16 media is generally available up to a capacity of 2 GB.
If you use OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5 or later, you can find out which file system you’re using:
- Insert the media into the SD card slot.
- Choose Apple menu > About This Mac.
- Click System Report.
- In the Hardware section, click Card Reader, and find the File System field.
Will the SD card slot work with SD cards that use the exFAT file system?
Yes. Any Mac that has an SD card slot and is running OS X 10.6.5 or later can use the exFAT file system.
exFAT is also supported in Boot Camp with Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 on any Mac made in 2011 or later with an SD card slot.
How do I insert media into the SD card slot?
When you insert the card, make sure the metal contacts are face down and point towards the computer. Don’t force media into the SD card slot, as this might cause damage.
How does my Mac use the media inserted into the SD card slot?
Your computer recognises a card inserted into the SD card slot as a USB storage device. You can mount, read from and write to the SD card just like you can with any other USB storage device.
I put the card in the slot, but it didn’t mount. What should I do?
Remove the card and insert it again. Sometimes the SD card won’t mount properly if you put it into the slot too slowly. If the card still won't mount, you might need to reformat your SD card.
When I try to write content to the card, I get a "cannot be modified" message. How can I fix this?
You see this message when you try to edit data on an SD card that’s locked. You need to use the lock slider to unlock the card before you can edit the data.
To eject the card, drag the icon that represents the card to the Bin. After the icon has disappeared from the desktop, you can remove the card from the computer. Adjust the lock slider tab to unlock the card, then reinsert the card into the slot. See the manufacturer’s instructions for the location of the slider tab.
Can I use Disc Utility to reformat an SD card?
You can use Disc Utility to partition and format an SD device as FAT32 (using the MS-DOS FAT setting) or Mac OS Extended. The Mac OS Extended format can be used only on Macintosh systems. Non-Apple systems won’t recognise cards formatted to Mac OS Extended.
You might have to format a card that’s larger than 32 GB with exFAT if you want to use it with a digital camera, GPS or another device. When in doubt, format the card in the device that you intend to use it with. Formatting a card permanently deletes all of its files. Before continuing, make sure you have a backup of any files you want to keep on the SD card.
Can I install macOS on an SD storage device and use it as a startup volume?
Use Disc Utility to change the default partition table to GUID. Then format the card to use the Mac OS Extended file format.
How do I remove a card from the SD card slot?
Before removing the card, allow any data transfer to SD media to finish. To eject the card, drag the icon that represents the card to the Bin. After the icon has disappeared from your desktop, you can remove the card from the slot.
Don't remove a card while your Mac is sleeping, as this could lead to data loss. Always wake your computer and eject the SD card before removing it from your Mac.
Can I use Secure Digital Input Output (SDIO) cards?
No. A Mac computer won’t recognise SDIO cards.
Can I use macOS to see the specifications for the interface hardware and media inserted in the SD card slot?
You can get information about the interface hardware and the media that you inserted in the slot from the System Information:
- Choose Apple menu > About This Mac.
- Click System Report.
- In the Hardware section of System Information, select USB.
- In the list of USB devices, select Internal Memory Card Reader to access information about the interface hardware and the media inserted into the SD card slot.
Can I use the SD card slot while running Windows using Boot Camp?
The SD card slot works with Boot Camp in all supported versions of Windows. You’ll need to download and install the Windows Support Software to use the SD card slot with Windows.
Learn more about using Windows on a Mac.
Can I use an SDXC card on my Mac with Windows?
You can use an SDXC card in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 with these Mac computers:
- MacBook Pro (Early 2011 and later)
MacBook Pro models from 2016 and later don't have a built-in SD card slot. You can use a USB-C card reader, or a combination of a USB-C to USB Adaptor and a USB card reader.
- MacBook Air (Mid 2011 and later)
- Mac mini (Mid 2011 and later)
Mac mini (Mid 2010) doesn't support SDXC cards.
- iMac (Mid 2011 and later)
iMac (Mid 2010) doesn't support SDXC cards.
Can I use an SD, SDHC or SDXC card to install Windows on my Mac?
No. You can’t use SD, SDHC or SDXC cards with Boot Camp to install Windows software on Mac computers.