How To Add Storage To Your MacBook With An SD Card

Simon Slangen 13-02-2014

Ten second boot-up. Photoshop running in mere seconds. There are plenty of advantages to running your computer on an SSD. The sheer speed of everything never ceases to amaze, but that isn’t to say that there are no downsides Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] If you've kept up with some of the latest news about new computer parts, you may have heard about SSDs, or solid state drives. They are designed to replace your clunky, slow hard drive and... Read More . With SSD memory costing several times as much per gigabyte as traditional storage, newer MacBooks often don’t have as much storage as their older hard disk counterparts.


You’ll either need to keep a close eye on your remaining disk space, or take steps to expand it. Today we’re focusing on the latter option, more specifically how you can use the SD card slot on your MacBook to increase available storage.

The Benefits of Using SD Storage

When your MacBook’s SSD starts to reach its capacity, external storage Which Mac File System Is Best for an External Drive? Formatting a hard drive for use with your Mac? Here are your macOS file system options and how to pick the best one for you. Read More is one of the first logical places to look for help. Prices of external hard drives and memory sticks have never before been so low. And, truly, storing just a bit of that data on an external hard drive can take a lot of worries off your plate.

It’s hardly an integrated solution, though – however small these external hard drives can be, you’re still forced to carry around an additional piece of hardware.


The answer comes in the form of another type of external storage: the SD card. Apart from the 11″ MacBook Air (the smallest model on the market), all MacBooks have SD card slots. A few of you may use it to offload pictures from your camera, but most users never realise it’s there. Like other storage media, SD card prices are at an all time low. A decent-sized SD card isn’t cheap, but it’s a great trade-off in terms of size, speed and portability.


Storage and Speed Limitations

Obviously, an SD card won’t get you the the terabytes of extra storage that’s available in the form of external hard drives The 8 Best Portable Hard Drives You Can Buy Right Now Read More . However, you can add a decent chunk of storage to supplement your MacBook’s internal hard drive. The exact amount of storage you can add depends on what type of SD cards are supported by your MacBook.


Storage: SDHC vs SDXC

Most recent Macs support SDXC cards. These theoretically support up to 2 TB of storage. In reality, you can purchase a 128GB SDXC card for a bit over 80 bucks. There are also 256GB SDXC cards for sale, but only for ludicrous prices.

SDXC cards are supported by the following Apple computers:

  • MacBook Pro (Early 2011 and later)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2011 and later)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2011 and later)
  • iMac (Mid 2011 and later)

SDHC, with a storage cap of 32GB, is also supported by the following Apple computers:

  • Mid 2010 Mac Mini
  • Mid 2010 iMac


SD cards are ranked from Class 1 to Class 10. Class 10 means that the card has a write speed of about 10MB per second or higher (by comparison, a standard hard drive writes at about 20MB per second). Higher end Class 10 SDXC cards have write speeds of about 20MB per second, comparable to standard hard drives.

Make sure to check the speed rating of the SD card you’re buying. Speed is one of the main differences between SD cards in different price classes, so you should always go for the fastest card you can afford.

 Protrusion or Special Adapters

When you plug in an SD card, it usually protrudes as little. This isn’t strange, because the SD card slot wasn’t designed to serve as a permanent storage solution. If you use regular SD cards, you’ll have to handle your MacBook with care if you leave the SD card in. However, there’s another solution.



There are a couple of Micro SD adapters on the market that are specifically tailored to fit your specific MacBook model. These Micro SD adapters won’t protrude at all! Using these adapters, you can add SD storage to your MacBook without any of the disadvantages. You can keep all your USB ports, and you’ll hardly even notice it’s there.

However, to use these adapters, you’ll have to buy a Micro SD card instead of a regular one. These Micro SD cards are only as big as your pinky nail, so you’ll pay a bit more for the same amount of storage. The notes on speed and compatibility, discussed above for regular SD cards, remain the same.



Check out the Nifty MiniDrive [No Longer Available], MiniDrive ($19.99) or search eBay for imitation models like the Baseqi HiddenSuit and make sure to double check that the adapter corresponds to your MacBook model.

How do you tackle storage issues with your MacBook? Have you ever considered adding SD storage? Let us know in the comments section below the article!

Related topics: Computer Memory, Memory Card.

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  1. Ross
    December 15, 2018 at 5:40 am

    I like the Transcend SD Cards which have a flush plate which creates a smooth interface with the MacBook Pro, and you can catch it with your fingernail to remove.
    Have used them for years.
    No noticeable additional energy use.

  2. king
    April 23, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    i also had this idea in my mind but wasn't sure if its going to work

    thanks for the infos

    u helped me made a dicision

  3. Tas
    January 11, 2016 at 3:11 am

    Hello Mate,
    Great information, many thanks.
    What i don't understand on Ebay they are selling 128GB Sandisk around $82 bucks, at 80MB/s
    That's SDXC Class 10.
    And other SDXC Class 10 cards are only 40MB/s
    Same brand Same class etc, but lesser transfer.

    Thank you.

  4. noah
    November 24, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Hi, i was just wondering if it was possible to get my Mid 2014 Macbook Pro to read an SD card as if it were internal storage, similar to how people run dual hard drive setups?

  5. Akhil
    December 16, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Hi Simon

    I have Transcend JetDrive Lite 128GB for Macbook Pro. Its really helpful as my SSD is just 128GB. Now the problem i am facing is, whenever my Macbook goes to sleep after inactivity, the SD card gets ejected automatically. Every time this happens, i have to remove the card and insert it again. Any solution for this?

  6. David
    December 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks guys for this complete article ! I was my self looking for a solution and I found this amazing offer on Amazon US -> PNY 254Go SDXC 10 for a 100bucks and a really good rating:

    This is half the price of other same category SD card.

    So I thought I needed to share my find

    Have a nice day

  7. pete
    February 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Do you know what impact this extra card has on battery life in a Mac Book Air?

  8. Richard
    February 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

    When the SSD got down to the last few GBs I went for a cheap 16GB micro usb device (which is also now full!), i dont know why i didnt think of this though, its a brilliant idea.

    I'll be adding 64GB using the discrete micro sd option in the next few days.

    Good call guys.