How to Format SD Cards in All Devices

You might need to format your SD card for a number of reasons. This allows your card to stay clean and operating at its best speed. It only takes a couple of taps or clicks but the procedure can vary depending on the device you are formatting your memory card on. 

This article will give you step-by-step instructions on how to format an SD card on various devices. 

how to format an sd card

When to Format An SD Card and When to Reformat It

Formatting refers to the very first time that an SD card is formatted. On the other hand, reformatting refers to the subsequent times you format the SD card. However, if you dig deep into the technicalities, the formatting procedure creates a directory structure or a file system that stores files. But, if the SD card is formatted for a second time, the same file system is used but the previous files are deleted.

Reformatting changes the SD card’s file system type. This is required when your SD card needs to be used with a device that runs on a different operating system. For instance, you need to reformat an SD card used with a Windows system to use it on a Macbook.

Reasons Behind Formatting SD Card

  • If you regularly click a lot of pictures and delete or transfer them to your computer, in that case, you can format the SD card once every month. 
  • Formatting your card keeps it operating at its peak performance and decreases the chances of your files getting corrupted. 
  • While using the SD card, if you encounter a problem, that means your SD card probably has a corrupted file system or a virus. In this case, you need to format the SD card to get rid of the virus.
  • In case you decide to hand over the SD card to someone else, you can format it to clear its memory for the new owner’s usage. You should format it twice to make sure your files can’t be recovered. 

How To Format An SD Card On Windows PC?

  1. Formatting SD Card Via Windows Explorer
  2. Formatting SD Card Via Disk Management
  3. Formatting the SD Card Through Command Prompt

Method #1. Formatting SD Card Via Windows Explorer

Step 1. Insert your SD card into the SD card reader of your computer or if you don’t have one use an external adapter.

insert your sd card into the computer's sd card reader

Step 2. Click on the “This PC” icon on your Desktop. The Windows Explorer will open up, right-click on your SD card, and then click on Format.

right click on sd card's name in windows file explorer and click format

Step 3. A pop-up will appear where you can specify the file system of your SD card. Assign a new label to your SD card. 

how to format an sd card on windows 10

Step 4. Once done, click on Start followed by OK to confirm the operation.

Note: FAT32 format is for SD cards having a memory less than 64GB and exFAT is for SD cards with a memory of more than 64GB.

Method #2. Formatting SD Card Via Disk Management

Step 1. Insert the SD card into the card reader connected to your PC or laptop.

Step 2. Right-click on “This PC” and click on “Manage.” Now, enter “Disk Management.”

right click on this pc and select manage
right-click on microsd card and select format

Step 3. Locate your SD card and right-click on it and choose “Format.”

Step 4. Click on “Yes” to proceed with the formatting. In the respective fields, enter a new label and choose a file format for your SD card: FAT32, exFAT, or NTFS. Once done, click on “OK.”

formatting an sd card using disk management

Method #3: Formatting the SD Card Through Command Prompt

Step 1. Press the Windows key + R key to open the Run dialog box.

Step 2. In the Run utility, type in “cmd” and press the Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys together from the keyboard. This will run the command prompt with administrative permissions.

Step 3. Click “Yes” if prompted whether you want to allow the Command Prompt to make changes to your computer.

Step 4. Now, type in the following commands one by one and press Enter after each to execute them:


list disk //This command lists down all the available disks

select disk 0 //Replace ‘0’ with the disk number of your SD card

formatting an sd card using command prompt


create partition primary // Creates a partition in the clean SD card

Step 5. Next, type in either of the commands given below based on the file format you want to format your SD card to:

format fs=ntfs 

OR format fs=exfat

enter the command to format sd card as per the format type you want

Step 6. The last command you need to execute is: assign letter=E

This command assigns a letter to the SD card/drive. You can set it to anything you like, just replace the ‘E’ in the command with whichever letter you want to assign to this drive.

How To Format SD Card On Your Camera?

format an sd card on your camera

Step 1. Back up the data on your card to a cloud storage device.

Step 2. Turn your camera off and insert the card into it

Step 3. Turn the camera on and navigate to Menu

Step 4. Now, in the “Camera Display” section, select Setup > Format/Format Memory Card

Step 5. Select OK and the camera will start formatting your card.

Step 6. Once the formatting is finished, turn off the camera. Now, the formatted memory card is ready for use.

How To Format An SD Card on an Android Phone?

Step 1. Go to Phone Settings and look for Device Care

Step 2. Choose Storage and press the Advanced option

Step 3. In the Portable storage section, choose SD card

Step 4. Tap on Format and then on Format SD card for confirmation

These steps are very general and can vary as per your phone model. The takeaway from this method is that you need to go to your phone’s Settings and find the SD card.

How To Format An SD Card on Mac OS?

Step 1. Connect your SD card to your Mac system. Do this by inserting the SD card into the slot meant for it/ data card reader/ external adapter.

Step 2. Go to Finder and click on Applications. Then, click on Utilities.

Step 3. Click on the Disk Utility app to open it.

formatting an SD card on mac os via disk utility app

Step 4. In the Disk Utility screen, look for your SD card in the External section. If the SD card has not been formatted already, name it “UNTITLED”/ “NO NAME.”

Step 5. Click on your card and select the “Erase” option from the functions section located at top of the Disk Utility window.

click erase in the toolbar of disk utility

Step 6. A pop-up window will come up, click on “Format” from the drop-down menu. 

Step 7. Now, choose the format type you want. Here, you can name your card but it is optional.

choose format type from the drop down menu

Step 8. Next, select the “Erase” function.

Step 9. The next screen will read “Unmounting.” Now, wait till the process is finished.

formatting an sd card on macbook

How To Format SD Card on Switch?

Step 1. Insert the SD card into your Nintendo Switch and then, turn on the Switch.

Step 2. Select Settings from the Home screen

Step 3. Tap on System from the bottom of the Menu

Step 4. Select Formatting Options

Step 5. Tap on Format micro SD card option

Step 6. Now, choose the Continue button and you’re done.

How to Format a Write-Protected SD Card?

If the SD card is write-protected, first remove the write-protection of the card to format it. You can do this via the given procedures:

  1. Turning Off the Physical Write-Protection Switch
  2. Via an Anti-Virus Software
  3. By running diskpart 

Method #1. Turning Off the Physical Write-Protection Switch

Step 1. Disconnect the SD card and find a small switch located towards the side or bottom of the card.

Step 2. Check if the switch is in the “On” position. If it isn’t, switch it to the “Off” position to unlock the SD card.

Method #2. Via an Anti-Virus Software

Step 1. Download an antivirus software if you already don’t have one. Open the anti-virus software on your system

Step 2. Insert the SD card into the card reader of your laptop or computer.

Step 3. Now, the anti-virus software will scan and clean your SD card. This will remove the write protection.

Method #3. By Running DiskPart

Step 1. Connect your SD card to the PC.

Step 2. Press the Windows key + X to open the Run utility. Type in cmd in the Run dialog box and click on OK.

Step 3. Type in the following commands one by one and press ‘Enter’ after each of them:

list desk

select disk X //(X denotes the disk number of your SD card)

attributes disk clear readonly

Step 4. Wait until the removal gets finished. Next, type Exit and hit the enter button

This will remove the write protection. Now, you can go to File Explorer and follow the steps given in the above subheads to format your SD card.

Final Thoughts

Now, you know how to format your SD card on your phone, camera, Windows PC, Mac OS, etc. Formatting your memory card is an easy procedure but you should also follow certain good SD card practices to make it perform better.

Firstly, choose to format over erase, always format a new card before using it, and regularly backup your card’s data so that you don’t lose anything.


Do you need to format a new SD card?

SD cards are used with a number of devices having different Operating Systems like Windows, Mac OS, etc. You never know when something unpredictable occurs with the data read/write procedure. To avoid an OS compatibility issue or data error, we recommend you format a new SD card before using it.

How do I format my SD card on my camera?

Press the camera Menu button
Press the multi-controller button and go to Camera Settings 1.
Now, using the multi-controller select the Format Card option
Press OK to start the format procedure.

How do I format my SD card for internal storage?

Navigate to your phone’s Settings and tap on Storage
Now, select the SD card and tap the three-dots followed by Settings
Tap on Format as internal and then select Erase & Format
Your SD card will get formatted as your phone’s internal storage.
Lastly, reboot your device.

Meet the Author

Abdul Rahim has been working in Information Technology for over two decades. Learn how Abdul got his start as a Tech Blogger , and why he decided to start this Software blog. If you want to send Abdul a quick message, then visit his contact page here.