I have a MacBook Air running Yosemite.

I have an external SD drive that I save files to frequently.

Info on SD drive says it's READ-ONLY all of a sudden? I am the ONLY person that uses this drive and it worked literally minutes ago!

  • I changed the title just to make it easier to google – Tetsujin Mar 3 '15 at 16:08
  • i have the same problem running OS 10.10.4, with couple of cards. – user150122 Oct 3 '15 at 14:21

Some SD cards' firmware will lock the device to read-only if any write error occurs.

If this happens, the only solution is to copy all data off it & discard.

SD/flash is not worth the effort of trying to fix, once it starts to go wrong.

Things to try…

  • Double-check the physical lock has not been flipped by accident.

  • Reboot the computer & try again

  • Try it on another computer/device

  • Once you have all existing data copied from it, attempt to format.

If none of this is successful, throw it away.

I work with hundreds of (admittedly very cheap) SD cards for work, & this is our standard practise if they start to fail.

Golden rule
Never store any important data on SD without having a safety copy on some more reliable medium.
I'd even extend that to - if you have to use SD to carry data from one machine to another - home/work etc - use 2 cards & keep them manually in sync with your work.

  • Thanks for the advice - no important data lost, just wanted to understand why/how this would happen so quickly. – Roy Hinkley Mar 3 '15 at 16:12
  • Welcome. Frankly, they're just flaky - work one minute, fail the next. Expensive ones tend to last longer, but not always. Some of the dirt cheap ones I use are still good after 5 years, with many many thousands of read cycles ; but we don't write cycle them much. idk if that makes a real difference. Some, of course, hardly last the day out before they start to error. [our cards go into continuous play advertising screens. No-one counts how many times one gets used, but they cycle for 14h a day, 7 days a week, playing the same 50MB or so video file, til they break] – Tetsujin Mar 3 '15 at 16:15
  • Before your comments, I would have thought a fail would cause it not mount at all - as opposed to read-only mount. – Roy Hinkley Mar 3 '15 at 16:29
  • It depends how badly it fails. Write-lock is 'intended behaviour' as a protective measure. Anything else could be controller fail or total fail of the flash itself. There's always the 'mess with it a lot & see if it works again' approach [I've just found it's not really ever worth the effort]. A number of versions of that here - apple.stackexchange.com/questions/65056/… – Tetsujin Mar 3 '15 at 16:37

All of my SD cards are suddenly giving this erroneous Read-Only message. It started wit the 10.10.3 update. Before that they worked fine. I have cards from different brands and sizes. The problem is with the MacOS X update having a bug. Older computers that do not have the 10.10.3 update do not have the problem.


What worked for me is putting my SD card into a camera (canon 60d) and using its format utility. It worked for me and the card works normally now.

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