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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, 4MB to 2GB
  • SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity), 4GB to 32GB
  • SDXC, 4GB to 2TB
  • MMC (MultiMediaCards)
  • UHS‑II, up to 2TB (iMac Pro only)

You can use a passive adapter 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:

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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 use a Mac notebook:

  1. Select Hardware, then select USB.
  2. Select Internal Memory Card Reader and look for the Speed entry.

If you use a Mac desktop computer:

  1. Select Hardware, then select Card Reader.
  2. 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 32GB?

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 32GB. Media that exceeds 32GB 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 2GB.

If you use OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5 or later, you can find out which file system you’re using:

  1. Insert the media into the SD card slot.
  2. Choose Apple menu > About This Mac.
  3. Click System Report.
  4. 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 that the metal contacts face down and point toward 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 recognizes 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.

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 Trash. After the icon disappears 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 Disk Utility to reformat an SD card?

You can use Disk 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 recognize cards formatted to Mac OS Extended.

You might have to format a card that’s larger than 32GB 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.

Can I install macOS on an SD storage device and use it as a startup volume?

Use Disk 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 you remove the card, allow any data transfer to SD media to complete. To eject the card, drag the icon that represents the card to the Trash. After the icon disappears from your desktop, you can remove the card from the slot.

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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?

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:

  1. Choose Apple menu > About This Mac.
  2. Click System Report.
  3. In the Hardware section of System Information, select USB.
  4. 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:

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  • 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 Adapter 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.
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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.

Many a time you want to create a bootable device for your new notebook, Netbook, or laptop. Nowadays, most of the electronic devices come with compactness. This gives rise to a number of notebooks that are manufactured without a CD/DVD drive. In such devices, you have to make use of either a flash drive or a memory card with high storage capacity.

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Further here, you can learn to make bootable SD/SDHC card or USB drive for your Windows or Mac computer. Some of the SD cards or SDHC cards come with high storage sizes and are compatible with almost all the relevant devices. But many devices are only compatible with the SD card for booting.

Find out the safest way to create a bootable SD card for Mac and Windows. And also learn how to recover data lost while booting.

How to make Bootable SD/SDHC for Mac?

There are a number of simple steps to be followed to create bootable SDHC cards for your Mac OS but it requires an external application. You can also create a bootable SD card on Mac with the help of the terminal. The terminal method doesn’t need any external sources. It just requires an SD card to boot your Mac.

  1. Connect the SD/SDHC memory card to the computer.
  2. Go to Utility – you can call utility with the help of the finder option of the Launchpad on your computer.
  3. Select on the SD card and click Erase.
  4. In Format, select MSDOS FAT from the dropdown. Enter a name in the ‘Name’ field. This is optional for the user.
  5. Click Erase.
  6. Open the Terminal and go to the location of your system image – enter the appropriate location in command.
  7. In order to find all the disk drives in the Mac, type – SUDO DISKUTIL LIST – this will display all the connected disks with the Mac system.
  8. Make sure about the partitions and the identifiers like disk2, disk3, etc. Try to keep the number of partitions to be just one.
  9. To unmount the drive type; SUDO UMOUNT DISK2
  10. To unmount the subpartitions type; SUDO DISKUTIL UMOUNT DISK2p1.
  11. To make the SD card bootable type in; SUDO DD Bs=4m if= of dev/disk2

Once you perform the above steps, the command starts executing and then, makes the SD card bootable for Mac operating system.

If you have lost your important data while making the SDHC card bootable. Do not overwrite any information and try to regain all your data from the SD card. Data restoration from SDHC or USB drive is easy with the help of Remo Recover tool.

Utilize Remo Recover software (Windows/ Mac) to easily recover data lost or deleted while booting from SD card or USB drive effortlessly. This tool works with a user-friendly interface and can safely restore more than 300 file formats like photos, videos, raw-images, documents, audio files, Office files, and etc. not only from formatted or corrupted internal hard drive but also from various external devices like USB, external hard drive, SD card, SDHC card and many more. Remo Recover is compatible with all the latest versions of Windows (Windows 10) and Mac (macOS Catalina) operating system.

How to make SD/ SDHC card or USB drive Bootable for Windows?

The steps to make a bootable SD/SDHC card on Windows 10 or its previous versions comprise of some similar steps. This involves the complete formatting of the SD card and then uploading the OS files to make bootable SD card or SDHC card. Follow the below steps to make a bootable SD card or flash drive for windows;

  1. Connect the SD card or USB drive to your computer – make sure the SD card is empty and you do not have any valuable data on it.
  2. Go to Command prompt – In order to do that, go to Start menu and type cmd and hit Enter.
  3. Go to diskpart – To do that, go to start menu and type diskpart and press Enter.
  4. In the new window, type; list disk – the window should be system32/diskpart.
  5. From the list of the disks that your computer has, look for your SD/SDHC card. You can refer to the memory space of the disks to identify your SD card.
    • Type; select diskX – the name of the disk you want to use i.e. the SD card.
    • Type; Clean
    • Type; Create Partition Primary
    • Type; Active
    • Type; Format Fs= NTFS Quick
    • Type; Assign
    • Type; Exit
  6. Now, mount your ISO file of Windows – Right-click on the image and select mount.
  7. Run the following commands:
    • G: CD BOOT – G is the iso file drive letter.
    • BOOTSECT.EXE/NT 60 F – F is the SD card or the drive letter for SD/SDHC card.
  8. Copy all the files from the ISO image to the memory card.
  9. Your SD/SDHC card is now in bootable mode, you can restart your computer and test the bootable SDHC card.

NOTE: While performing any of these steps double-check what you are selecting and what command you are executing. This is because any small mistake can corrupt your SD / SDHC card file system. Sometimes, you can fix your corrupt SD card in easy ways, but not always. There are chances that your card would become useless permanently. Hence, handle your card carefully.


Hope this information on how to boot SD card or USB drive on Windows and Mac operating system is going to help you make bootable SD card. In case of any data loss, you can use the Remo Recover tool to restore data from internal or external devices with ease.

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