How to Unlock a Memory Card

by Joshua Smyth

A "locked" memory card prevents the user from adding or deleting files. These cards are most commonly found in digital cameras. This can be a useful feature to protect, for example, your vacation photos from being accidentally erased when your child plays with your camera. It can also be frustrating, since you may not discover a locked memory card until you need to take a quick snapshot and your camera refuses to do so. Unlocking a memory card is quite simple but does require removing the card from the camera.

Turn off the camera or mobile device that the card is in.

Remove the memory card from the device. In most cases, you open a small door, then press down on the card to release it.

Locate the plastic slider that locks the memory card. These cards have three 90-degree corners and one clipped corner. Orient the card with the clipped corner on the top right. The slider will be on the left side. (Reference 1)

Move the slider upward (toward the end of the card with the clipped corner) to unlock the card's memory. If the slider is already in the upper position, slide it back and forth three times, then let it rest in the "locked" position for 30 seconds before sliding it upward to the "unlocked" setting. (Reference 1)

Put the card back in the device and try to record data to it. If it still registers as locked, it may be need to be replaced.

About the Author

Joshua Smyth started writing in 2003 and is based in St. John's, Newfoundland. He has written for the award-winning "Cord Weekly" and for "Blueprint Magazine" in Waterloo, Ontario, where he spent a year as editor-in-chief. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera sd cards image by timur1970 from