How to format SD card

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Aina Prat Blasi
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There are several ways to format an SD card. You can format an SD card using Windows, Mac and Android devices and probably your digital camera as well. Formatting an SD card means that everything on it will be erased, including junk or damaged files that you usually can't see.
If it is impossible for you to format the SD card properly, please make sure the write protect switch is not activated.


If you've ever used an SD card before, you may have been asked to "format" it before using it. But what does this mean?



Put simply, formatting an SD card is to erase all files on it, including internal files that are usually hidden. This is the best way to restore or erase an SD card and should be the first step when using a new card. Here are four ways to format an SD card, depending on the type of device available.

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Important: the Formatting an SD card is permanent. Once an SD card is deleted, deleted files cannot be recovered. Therefore, be sure to back up any data you want to keep before formatting.


How to Format SD Card on Windows PC

If you are using a Windows desktop or laptop computer, you will use File Explorer to format the SD card. Before you begin, back up any data you want to keep. And if you're using a laptop, make sure it's plugged in or has enough battery to last some time.



  1. Insert the SD card into your computer's SD card reader or an external USB reader. Not all computers will have an SD card reader.
  2. Once the SD card is inserted, open File Explorer (in other words, open any folder). In the left column, click "This PC" or "My Computer" - they have the same function, but appear under different names in different versions of Windows.
  3. Click on the SD card in the device list. This will open it on your computer.
  4. At the top of the File Explorer window, click the "Manage" tab, then click "Format". A pop-up window will appear. After selecting the SD card, click on the "Manage" tab, followed by "Format".
  5. In the pop-up window, click on the drop-down menu under “File System”. Here you will see some options: if you plan to use this card only on a Windows computer, choose “NFTS”. If you intend to use it on multiple types of devices, please click "FAT32". FAT32 is usually the best format to choose.
  6. If you are formatting your SD card for the first time, make sure the checkbox next to “Quick Format” remains unchecked. If you have already formatted this particular SD card before, the Quick Format checkbox can remain checked.
  7. When you are ready to start formatting, click "Start".
  8. One or two other pop-up windows will appear. Click "OK" in each of these to proceed. Click "OK" to reassure Windows that you know exactly what you are doing.
  9. At the end process, you can eject the SD card and then remove it from the SD card reader.

How to format SD card on Mac

On a Mac, you'll use the Finder to format your SD card. Make sure you've backed up and saved any data you want to keep from the card, and if you're using a laptop, plug it in.



  1. If you haven't already, insert the SD card into your Mac's SD card slot or USB card reader and start your computer.
  2. Open "Finder", then click the "Go" tab. In its submenu, click on “Utilities”.
  3. In the window that appears, double-click on “Disk Utility”. A new window will open. Open the Disk Utility app.
  4. In the left column, click on the SD card. It should appear under the “External” heading.
  5. At the top of the window, click the "Delete" button. You can format an SD card from the Disk Utility app on your Mac.
  6. Click "Format" to open a drop-down menu. If your SD card is 64GB or more, please select “ExFAT”. If it is 32GB or less, select “MS-DOS (FAT)”.
  7. Click "Erase" to format the SD card.

How to format SD card on Android

It might surprise you, but many Android phones and tablets can also format SD cards. In fact, many Android come with an included microSD card. After backing up the data you want to save and loading your Android, here's how to format a Micro SD.


  1. With the SD card inserted in your Android device, open “Settings”.
  2. Select the "Memory" or "SD Card" option from the menu. Each Android version may have a different name related to this section. As a general rule, look for a menu item that contains the word "Memory".
  3. Then tap "Advanced".
  4. Look for your SD card under the heading “Portable storage”. Once the SD card is located, tap on it.
  5. Tap "Format". In the pop-up that appears, tap “Format SD card”.

How to format SD card using a DSLR camera

If you have a DSLR camera, there's a good chance you can format the SD card directly from the camera itself. Note that the specific steps vary depending on what type of camera you have, but this guide more or less describes the general process. Again, make sure your camera is charged and that you have backed up any files you want to save.



  1. With the camera turned off, insert the SD card into the designated slot. Once the SD card is secure, turn on the camera.
  2. Using a button or option on the camera screen, open the menu.
  3. From the menu, go to “Configuration”. Look for an option that includes the word "Format". Once located, select this option.
  4. Select "OK" to start the formatting process. Wait patiently while it does this, as it may take a few minutes.
  5. Al finished formatting the SD card, turn off the camera to complete the process.

What to do if it is impossible to format SD card?

When inserting the SD card into the reader, the device may not read it. In this case, it is likely that the write protect switch is activated.

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This switch ensures that nothing on the SD card can be changed. It's fine to protect your data, but it's bad if you want to format. To turn it off, simply take the SD card out of the reader and push the switch towards the end inserted into your computer or card reader.


In the worst case, you still can't format the SD card, insert it first on another PC, if it doesn't work, it could be that your SD card is damaged.

Further Reading:

  • How to format SD card using Diskpart on Windows 10/8/7
  • How to save drivers before formatting Windows 10
  • How to format WBFS, easy guide
  • This PC can't be upgraded to Windows 10? Here is the solution!
  • How to save PC data before formatting
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