What Is the SD Slot on a Mac Mini?
By Dan Stone
The SD slot located on the back of some Mac Mini models is a Secure Digital memory card reader. The SD memory card standard is the industry removable storage leader: the memory card type is commonly used in the standard, mini and micro form factors in devices like cellular phones, digital cameras and tablets. According to photojournalism website PetaPixel, Apple began producing the Mac Mini with a built-in SD card reader in mid-2010. The built-in reader permits the computer to interface with SD cards without needing a USB adapter.
Mac Mini Models
The Mac Mini is the smallest form-factor Macintosh computer available. The Mac Mini's design is focused on being a space-efficient, inexpensive computing platform for the average user -- it is not a performance workstation. Mac Minis are often purposed as home theater PCs by virtue of their size and capabilities. According to Apple, the Mac Mini is designed so that the person using it can replace his computer and continue using existing peripheral devices like monitors, keyboards and mice.
SD Card Standards
SD memory cards are a type of flash memory storage device: they don't require moving parts to access and store data. Three SD card device generations offer increased capacity and performance over earlier generations: SD, SD High Capacity and SD Extended Capacity. The fastest, SDXC, was introduced in 2009. SD cards offer 2GB of storage capacity; SDHC cards offer 32GB; and SDXC cards provide 2TB of storage capacity. Mac Mini models with SD card readers support all three generations; however, SD readers can only use cards from the device's generation and prior generations. So an SDHC reader can't read SDXC cards, but an SDXC reader can read SD and SDHC cards.
SD Card Adapters
The Mac Mini's SD card slot can work with microSD and miniSD cards, but the cards must be placed inside of an adapter. MicroSD and miniSD cards often include a full-sized SD reader adapter that looks just like a full-sized card but features a connection slot for the smaller card. The Mac Mini's reader is too large to work with miniSD and microSD cards, which may get stuck in the slot if inserted. Many mobile devices such as cellular phones and cameras use the smaller microSD and miniSD standards to reduce the size of the device by using a smaller card slot.
Using the SD Slot
Any SD card properly inserted into the Mac Mini's SD slot will be recognized by the operating system as a USB storage device. Insert the card into the reader slot with the connectors facing down and towards the device. The card will slide in and click into place. The Mac Mini will mount and access the card automatically. Drag the card's icon into the trash to unmount the device before ejecting it to prevent data corruption. SD cards can be removed from a powered-down Mac Mini without a problem.
- SD Association: Fact Sheet
- SD Association: Frequently Asked Questions
- Computer Hope: Jargon -- SD Card
- PC Magazine: Definition of: SD Card
- Apple: Mac Mini
- Apple: About the SD and SDXC Card Slot
- Apple: Mac Mini (Mid 2011): External Ports and Connectors
- PetaPixel: Apple Updates the Mac Mini, Adds SD Card Slot
Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.