How to Fix SD Card Won't Read on Computer or Phone

Summary:This post provides 11 different methods to fix 'SD card won't read' error or 'card not getting detected on Windows, Mac, and phone' issue. It provides several ways to restore photos and videos which are lost due to such errors.

Are you coming across any of the below mentioned issues while trying to access the SD card?

  • Error 'Read/ Write error on SD card.'
  • Error 'Unable to read memory card.'
  • Can't view SD card files
  • SD card drive letter is missing
  • Phone not detecting SD card
  • Error 'The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer.'
  • Error 'SD card is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.'

The issue of SD card causing unreadable or failed to be detected may occur on any device, your PC, camera, Android phone etc. Resultantly, you won't be able to open your photos, videos, or other files on SD card.

There can be several reasons behind the matter, some of the probable reasons are:

  • Physically damaged SD card
  • Faulty card reader or USB port
  • Damaged SD card
  • Virus-infected system
  • Write-protected SD card
  • SD card drivers not updated

Now, the question is how to overcome the error 'SD card won't read' errors. Related to this problem, certain methods are shared here which can fix SD card cannot read errors on Windows, Mac, or Android phone.

These methods can be applied on SDSC, SDHC, SDXC, miniSD, microSD, and several other memory cards used on camera, phone, and other devices.

How to fix SD card won't read error?

  • Troubleshoot the 'SD card not detected' problem by checking the hardware connections like card reader, USB cable, etc.
  • If you find that hardware connections are functioning appropriately, then fix the software-related issues like reboot, drivers update, formatting, and others.
  • It is thus very important to fix the error. Recover the inaccessible data when the SD card becomes unreadable. This requires a professional SD Recovery software that restores lost data, photos, etc.

Here are some common methods to fix 'SD card cannot read' error on Windows, Mac, & Android

  • Check your SD card reader
  • Try to use a different USB Port
  • Turn off write protection of SD card
  • Restart your PC
  • You can put your computer or phone into an idle state
  • Get done with the formatting of the SD card to fix SD card read/write error
  • Recover data from SD card data that shows 'cannot read error'

Here are some methods to fix 'SD card cannot read' error on Windows PC

  • Upgrade the drivers
  • Allott a new drive letter to SD card

Methods to fix 'SD card cannot read' error on Mac

  • You may set the Finder preference to show SD card on Mac
  • Move your SD card in Disk Utility

Method 1 - Check your SD card reader

May the problem is with your external card reader. Many times, even the in-built card reader in laptop or desktop PCs needs to be repaired. To check the damage in the card reader, try the given below workarounds:

  • Use another external card reader and check if Windows PC or Mac can read the SD card.
  • Attempt to access the SD card on another computer's in-built card reader.

If you successfully fix the 'SD card won't read' error with this method that means your card reader is faulty and need to be changed.

Method 2: Use a different USB Port

  • Maybe it is a USB port issue. Many laptops have more than one USB port, try to access the SD card by changing the slots. You may also use another computer's USB port.
  • In many stances, changing the USB port help in fixing the The 'SD card won't read' error.

Method 3: Turn off write protection of SD card

  • If the write-protection is enabled on your SD card, then you won't be able to perform editing, opening, or saving any file on media. However, you can view the files on your SD card.
  • Ensure you slide the switch up to unlock position in case it is locked.
  • Try to access SD card on your computer or phone. This is a helpful method that can fix SD card cannot read write error.

Method 4: Restart the device

  • Try to restart or reboot the device. This may help to sort out SD card won't read error on phone, PC or Mac.
  • For this method, you need to unplug the SD card reader from your phone or computer. After that restart and connect the SD card via card reader. Now, check, if your phone or computer can read the SD card.

Method 5: Put your computer or phone in to idle state

  • If you find that SD card is not recognized or it is not displayed in the drive list under 'This PC' or 'My Computer', it could be possible because of the computer's low memory.
  • To carry out this process, first, close all programs on your PC or laptop. After this, leave your system in an idle state for few minutes. After this, connect the SD card. The drive letter will now become visible.
  • Use the same steps for your mobile phone also.

Method 6: Format SD card to fix SD card read/write error

Another method that you can try to format the unreadable SD card. This method will also help to make the storage media reusable.

Here are the steps to format SD card on PC:

  • First connect SD card to PC.
  • After this, Open This PC.
  • Next, right-click your SD card letter under Devices and drives and choose Format.
  • Go to the Format window and click the File System box, choose any one option from the three options - NTFS, FAT32, exFAT.
  • Click Start.

You can also format the applications to format your SD card.

Here are the steps to format SD card on Mac:

  • First, connect the SD card to Mac.
  • Then, Launch Finder.
  • After this, go to the Applications folder.
  • Double-click to enter Utilities Disk Utility.
  • After this, select your SD card on left panel and click Erase.
  • Then, erase SD card option on Mac
sd card
  • Now, name the SD card in the dialog box. Select exFat format from the drop-down menu and click Erase.

Format SD card on Android phone

You can select to format your phone microSD card to fix SD card cannot read error on the mobile phone. This can be easily done by navigating to the Settings Storage your SD card choose Format/ Erase SD card.

The path will be different for various Android phone versions.

How to recover photos on Mac or PC from SD card after formatting?

Formatting will help to fix the read/write error in SD card. In addition to this, it will also remove all the photos and videos saved in the SD card. You can recover deleted photos, videos, and audio files a useful solution.

Method 7: Recover data from SD card data that shows 'cannot read error'

The 'SD card won't read' error may lead to cause data loss situation because media becomes inaccessible. Still the recovery from such SD cards is possible.

Method 8: Update the drivers (for Windows and Mac)

  • The SD card drivers permit the external device to interact with the computer Operating System. Windows fail to recognize SD card when SD card drivers are not up to date. These drivers can be damaged, out-of-date or not installed aptly.
  • To overcome the problem, first, ensure that the drivers are updated.
  • Most drivers are upgraded with Windows update. USB card reader manufacturers bring in their updates to fix bugs. Now, check your card reader manufacturer website for the available updates. Install and check if errors are fixed or not.
  • To update SD card drivers on Mac, update your Mac Operating System. This will update the system drivers.

Method 9: Assign a new drive letter to SD card (for Windows)

If you don't see the SD card drive letter in the drive list of your computer, it clearly implies that your SD card is not detected. If you want to fix the 'SD card not detected by PC' issue, then assign a new drive letter to your SD card.

Know how to assign a new drive letter to SD card:

  • First Connect the SD card to PC.
  • After that, Press Windows + R key to open the Run dialogue box.
  • Now, Type compmgmt.msc and hit Enter button.
  • Choose Disk Management.
  • Then, right-click the drive you want to assign a letter.
  • Select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
Change drive letter path win
  • A dialog box will appear, click Change.
  • Then, check-in Assign following drive letter.
  • Select the letter which you want to assign from the drop-down menu and click OK.
change drive letter
  • Now, close the Computer Management window and restart your PC installed with Windows OS.
  • The SD card drive letter should now be visible in the drive list.

Method 10. Set Finder preference to show SD card (for Mac)

Even after all the hardware connections connected to SD card, slot or USB reader being in place, if you fail to view the SD card on Mac, then it is the time to check the Finder preferences for desktop. There is a possibility that the external disks are not permitted to display on Mac desktop.

Here is the step-by-step process to show SD card on desktop on Mac:

  • First, navigate to Finder Preferences General
  • Check for the External disks option.
  • After this, click Sidebar
finder preferences
  • Now, check-in External disks under Devices to display SD card in Finder.

You can now see SD card on Mac.

Method 11: Mount your SD card in Disk Utility (for Mac)

In case, SD card is not mounted appropriately, it can result in causing 'SD card not readable' error. Therefore, first, mount SD card via Disk Utility and then check.

Here are easy steps to mount SD card on Mac:

  • Start with typing the Disk Utility on the search box.
  • Go to the Disk Utility window and choose SD card on the left side.
  • Then, click the Mount button on the top.
  • Now, close the window. Your SD card should be readable and visible on the Mac desktop.


Now, you must know how to fix SD card won't read on phone, Mac or Windows PC. While recovering the lost data from the error message, you may try using a professional software tool.