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How To Recover Deleted Photos From SD Card on Windows PC and Mac

Eleanor Reed
Eleanor Reed Originally published Aug 04, 23, updated May 14, 24
"I lost photos on the SD card. They are really meaningful to me. Does anyone know how to retrieve deleted pictures from SD card?"

An SD card is an excellent storage option for securely preserving essential data and photos, particularly for digital cameras, video cameras, DVRs, mobile phones, and other mobile devices. However, they are quite delicate and can lead to unexpected data loss.

Losing precious photos from your vacations stored on an SD card can be quite distressing. So, if you accidentally delete pictures from a SD Card, can you fully recover them? Today we'll talk about SD card photo recovery and help with the exact steps to take.

In this article
    1. Way 1. Use the Undo Option Right Away
    2. Way 2. Restore Deleted Photos From Your Trash/Recycle Bin
    3. Way 3. Recover Deleted SD Card Photos From Your Backup (If You Had One)
    1. Way 1. Undelete Photos From SD Card Using a Data Recovery Software (Windows & Mac)
    2. Way 2. Use the Terminal/Command Prompt to Recover Deleted Photos From SD Card

Reasons for SD Card Photo Loss

There are many reasons you could lose your SD card photos. Luckily, no matter the cause of deleting your photos, you can use the methods we will share today to get your files back. Here are the most common reasons people lose photos:

Causes Description
🗑 Photos Are Deleted by Accident Some people have tons of images and want valuable space. In the process, they accidentally delete the photos they actually need. On the other hand, managing photos can sometimes be challenging when moving thousands of files, and it's easy to lose focus and delete the wrong files.
📛 Corrupt Partition Every SD card needs a file system partition like FAT32 to store data. If your partition table gets corrupted, you won't be able to access your photos. There are tools that can repair the partition, and sometimes, you can simply use a file recovery tool to extract data.
💾 Formatted SD Card Users often format their cards without checking the information they have on them. Formatting means deleting all of the data stored on the card. However, if you act quickly, you can recover the deleted files using recovery software.
🔨 SD Card Is Physically Damaged SD cards can get damaged like all hardware components resulting in malfunction and physical damage. For example, you can lose data if you damage the plastic protection layer over the chip or bend the connector pins. Sometimes, you can recover these files at home using data recovery software, but the damage is too significant, and you'll need a professional recovery service.

Things You Must Do Before You Recover Deleted Photos From an SD Card

Can you recover deleted photos from SD card?

The answer is Yes. When you lose or delete a photo from an SD card, the data is not immediately removed, but rather, its space is marked as available for new data. As long as the deleted photo's data hasn't been overwritten by new data, there is a good chance of recovering it.

But before attempting to recover images from an SD card, there are several essential steps you need to follow to increase the chances of successful recovery:

  1. Stop using the SD card immediately: As soon as you realize that you have accidentally deleted photos or lost data, stop using the SD card right away. This will prevent any new data from being written on the card, which could potentially overwrite the deleted files.
  2. Remove the SD card from the device: Safely eject the SD card from the camera, mobile phone, or any other device it is connected to. This will help avoid any further accidental deletion or corruption.
  3. Make a backup of your SD card: Before attempting any recovery process, create a backup of the remaining data on your SD card. This will ensure that you have a copy of your data in case anything goes wrong during the recovery process.
  4. Check for physical damage: Inspect the SD card for any visible signs of physical damage, such as cracks or bent pins. If you find any damage, you may need to seek professional help for data recovery.
  5. Install a reputable photo recovery software: Choose a reliable and efficient photo recovery software to help you recover deleted photos from the SD card. There are several free and paid options available, so read reviews and choose the software that best suits your needs.
  6. Do not save recovered photos on the same SD card: When you recover deleted photos, make sure to save them on a different storage device, such as a computer hard drive or an external hard drive. Saving recovered photos on the same SD card can lead to overwriting of data and make the recovery process more difficult.

By following these steps, you can increase the chances of successfully recovering your deleted photos from an SD card. Here are some of the basic fixes you can try. They can sometimes be effective, and you won't have to go through more complex steps.

Basic SD Card Photo Recovery Options

There are three basic recovery options you can try:

Way 1. Use the Undo Option Right Away

Windows and Mac store versions of files, folders, and partitions for a short period. You can use your system to restore to some of the latest versions. However, this option is only effective if you try it briefly after deleting your SD files.

Use the Undo Option on Mac

  1. Navigate to your menu bar and click Edit.
  2. Click the Undo Move of option to undo your latest action (deleting files).
undelete photos from sd card mac

Restore Previous Versions on Windows

  1. Navigate to your computer through the start menu.
  2. Access your SD card and find the folder that contained your images.
  3. Right-click on the folder and click Restore previous versions.
restore previous versions sd card
  1. Select the version you want to restore and click Restore.
restore deleted photos from sd card on windows

Way 2. Restore Deleted Photos From Your Trash/Recycle Bin

You can restore your deleted photos from Trash/Recycle Bin if you deleted them on your Mac/Windows. Remember that your card must be connected to your device for these methods to work.

Restore Deleted Photos From Windows Recycle Bin

Deleting files in Windows sends them to the recycle bin if you haven't used the "Shift + Delete" option. These recycled files can be restored:

  1. Open your Recycle Bin from the Desktop.
accessing recycle bin in windows
  1. Select the photos you've deleted.
  2. Right-click the files and click Restore. Your files will be returned to their original location.
restoring photos from recycle bin

Restoring Deleted Photos From Mac Trash

  1. On your Dock menu bar, click on the trash icon.
accessing trash on mac
  1. Select the photos you want to restore, right-click and click Put Back to restore your photos to their original location.
restoring deleted sd photos using trash

Way 3. Recover Deleted SD Card Photos From Your Backup (If You Had One)

Mac and Windows computers have default backup options to recover pictures from an SD card. It all depends on your settings and how the photos were deleted. Here's what you can do to check if your deleted files have been backed up.

Recover Deleted SD Card Photos Using Mac Time Machine

Time Machine machine is the default backup tool on Mac devices. If you've set up backup tasks, you can use these steps to recover your deleted or lost pictures from SD card:

  1. Go to System Preferences and click Time Machine.
time machine in system preferences
  1. Check the Show Time Machine in the menu bar option.
access time machine on mac
  1. Navigate your menu bar, click the Time Machine icon and then Enter Time Machine.
enter time machine option
  1. Navigate through the tool to find the photos you want to recover. Select the right photos and click Restore when you're ready.
restore photos from sd card using time machine

Restore SD Card Photos With Windows File History

If you've turned on automatic backups on file history of Windows PC, here's how to restore pictures from SD card using Windows File History:

  1. Navigate to Start Menu, search for Settings, and access.
access settings in windows
  1. Go to Update & Security, Backup, and click Backup.
access backup settings in windows
  1. Scroll down through the window to find the Restore files from a current backup option. Click on it.
restore files from a current backup
  1. You will see all backed-up folders. Double-click to access them, select the files you want to restore, and click the green icon in the middle of the screen to restore.
select recovery files from sd card in windows

How To Recover Permanently Deleted or Lost Photos From SD Card Without Backup

If none of the methods above work, here are some of the methods that offer more success and can deal with more complex recovery needs:

Way 1. Undelete Photos From SD Card Using a Data Recovery Software (Windows & Mac)

There are many different memory card data recovery tools you can use, but we've selected Wondershare Recoverit because it's very effective, easy to use, and has the same process on Windows and Mac.

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Video Tutorial on How to Recover Images From SD Card:

Step-by-Step Guide to Restoring SD Card Photos With Wondershare Recoverit:

  1. Download and install Wondershare Recoverit on your computer.
  2. Start the program after you've connected your SD card to the computer.
  3. Select your SD card with data loss under the Hard Drives and Locations section.
select sd card in wondershare recoverit
  1. Wait until Wondershare Recoverit has scanned your device.
scan lost photos on sd card
  1. Preview the discovered files, select the ones you need, and click Recover.
retrieve deleted photos from sd card
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Way 2. Use the Terminal/Command Prompt to Recover Deleted Photos From SD Card

If your images aren't actually deleted, but you still can't access or manage them, you can try some other fixes to repair your SD card.

Using Command Prompt to Recover Lost Photos From an SD Card (Windows)

  1. After connecting the SD card to your computer, go to Start, search CMD, and left-click Command Prompt.
access the command prompt in windows
  1. Command Prompt will start, and you will see an empty command line.
command prompt opening screen
  1. Write chkdsk [card symbol]: /f, or chkdsk /X /f [card symbol] and press enter.
use chkdsk for sd card
  1. Wait until Windows has finished fixing your card.

Using The Terminal to Recover Lost Photos From an SD Card (Mac)

  1. Start the Terminal using Mac Utilities.
  2. Type cd. Trash and press Enter.
  3. Type ls -al ~/.Trash.
use mac terminal to recover photos
  1. Type the full file name to recover the files.


These are the best options for undeleting photos from your SD card. The most successful method is professional photo recovery software, which you should start with. However, you can also try other methods if you don't want to download a new tool and start using it.


  • I accidentally deleted photos from my SD card. Can I recover them?
    Yes, you can use Wondershare Recoverit to retrieve deleted photos from SD card easily.
    1. Download and install Wondershare Recoverit;
    2. Connect your SD card to the computer;
    3. Launch Wondershare Recoverit and select the SD card to scan for lost files;
    4. Preview the scanned files and select the desired ones;
    5. Click Recover to restore the selected photos.
  • How can I avoid losing SD card photos?
    Here are some of the things you can do:
    1. Back up your SD card regularly.
    2. Keep all software and devices updated.
    3. Safely remove your devices.
    4. Use your SD card carefully to avoid physical damage.
    5. Stop using your card and repair it as soon as you notice something's wrong.
  • Can I use Wondershare Recoverit for free to recover photos on an SD card?
    Yes, of course! Wondershare Recoverit has a free version for recovering up to 100MB of data with all its functionalities, including photo, video, hard drive, and enhanced recovery.
Eleanor Reed
Eleanor Reed May 14, 24
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