How to View SD Cards on a Computer

By Kylie Keeler

Updated September 13, 2017

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SD cards, as well as the more modern SDHC and SDXC cards, allow you to store large amounts of data, even though they are often smaller than a fingernail. To view these cards on your computer, use either your computer’s SD card slot or an SD card adapter. Once connected, you can view the files using File Explorer, just as you would any external storage device.

Physically Connecting SD Cards

Examine your computer for a small slot to insert an SD card. These slots are very small and can often be overlooked. So if you can't find the slot, check the documentation for your computer model.

If your computer doesn't have an SD card slot, you can connect it using an SD card adapter that will plug into the computer's USB port.

If you have taken pictures or videos on a digital camera, you also have the option to connect your camera directly to your computer's USB port. Windows will allow you to view the files on the SD card in your camera.

SD Card Sizes

SD Cards come in a variety of storage sizes, from 128 MB to a couple terabytes. Yet, it's the physical size of your card that's important when it comes to connecting it to a computer. Most SD card slots and USB adapters come in the standard SD card size.

Smaller cards, like the SDHC and SDXC form factors won't fit in SD slots without an adapter. However, almost all of these smaller cards come with an SD-size host device when you purchase them. You can slide the smaller card into the host device and then slide the host device into the SD card slot.

Viewing SD Card Files in Windows

Once the SD card is connected to your computer, wait a moment for Windows AutoPlay function to recognize it. When the dialogue box appears, asking you what you would like to do with the new storage that has been detected, select "Open Folder to View Files." This launches File Explorer with the SD card's folder already selected so you can view the files. To copy the files onto your computer, you can simply drag them from the SD card's folder to your desktop or any folder on your computer's hard drive.