Why Can I View SD Card Pictures on Camera But Not on Computer

Well, if you are just wondering why, the short answer is:

The problem could come from either the SD card or the PC’s side. The SD card may be corrupted, or you might have missing drivers or other issues on your computer.

I’m Caleb, and I have years of experience working with SD cards hands-on as a photographer. They’ve been a consistent part of my camera bag as the main way of getting pictures from my camera to other devices.

In this article, I’ll explain why your SD card’s pictures might appear on the camera but not on the computer. If you’ve encountered this problem and want to know how to fix it, keep reading for the full explanation.

Why Can I View SD Card Pictures on Camera But Not on Computer

Unfortunately, pinpointing a single cause for this problem isn’t possible. Several reasons, including hardware or software problems on the side of the SD card or computer, can cause it. Some of these reasons are more common than others, however. The reasons I’ve listed here are the ones that are more likely to appear.

1. SD Card Problems

Sometimes, the problem is on your SD card’s side. If an SD card is corrupted, it might work fine with some devices but not others. 

The files on the card may also be corrupted, rather than the card itself. This might happen if, for example, there’s an interruption while a file is being written to the card.

Your card’s file system might also cause problems when viewing pictures on a computer. 

When formatting your SD card, if you choose a file system format that your computer can’t read, it can lead to your computer not detecting the card at all.

2. Computer Problems

Alternatively, the problem could be on your computer’s end. You should check to see if your computer can read the file format in which the photos are saved. 

If your photos are saved as RAW files, for example, you won’t be able to open them without specialized photo-processing programs like Adobe Lightroom. If you’re trying to view these photos in an image viewer, and they don’t show up, this may be the reason.

You should also check to make sure your drivers are up-to-date. An outdated driver for your SD card reader can prevent your computer from recognizing the SD card.

Finally, as obvious as it sounds, check for physical damage to the card slot itself. If the slot is damaged or even too dusty, it might not function correctly.

How to Fix The Problem

Luckily, most of these problems are related to software, which makes them easier to fix than hardware problems.

1. Fixing SD Card Problems

Reformatting your SD card can help with many problems, including corruption or picking a file system that’s incompatible with your computer. However, it has the downside of erasing all the data on the card, so you’ll want to have a backup before reformatting.

There are also many programs out there, both paid and free, that specialize in extracting data from corrupted devices. Some can even repair corruption by fixing problems with your card’s software.

These programs vary in price and effectiveness, so research which works best for you. 

If you try reformatting your card, look into which file system format works best with your computer. NTFS is the most used format on Windows computers, while APFS is the standard format for Macs. Linux, on the other hand, has many choices.

2. Fixing Computer Problems

If you suspect the problem is on your computer’s side, you should first make sure your software is up-to-date. If the drivers for your SD card reader aren’t working properly, your device may not recognize the SD card and the files on it. This applies to your computer’s SD card slot and to external card readers.

Also, check for file format compatibility problems. If your camera is saving the photos in a format your computer can’t read, you might need special software to open those files.

An example of this is RAW files. Despite the format’s popularity with photographers, most “standard” photo-viewing programs can’t open it. When shooting in RAW format, you’ll need a photo-processing program on your computer to access the files.


These are some of the most common questions around this problem.

Why Is My SD Card Not Being Read By My Computer?

This can happen for several reasons. Commonly, your card slot may have outdated drivers, or the card itself might have a file system format that your computer can’t read.

How Do I Know If My SD Card Is Corrupted?

Your SD card might be corrupted if it has any number of different performance problems, including reading and writing files, showing the wrong amount of available storage, or even not being detected by devices at all.

Why Can’t I Download Pictures From My SD Card to My Computer?

The files may be saved in a format your computer doesn’t recognize as importable. Your computer’s drivers could also be outdated, preventing it from recognizing the SD card and files.


As you can see, many reasons can prevent photos from an SD card from showing up on a computer. Some of these software problems overlap with each other or have similar symptoms, so make sure to look at the problem from multiple angles.

Did this guide help you get to the bottom of your SD card not working? Let us know in the comments!

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