If you are new to the world of digital cameras, you may have encountered some errors regarding the memory card. How do you unlock a memory card for a digital camera? Keep reading to find out.


  • Memory cards can become locked by accident or ship that way from the manufacturer.
  • You can unlock the memory card by removing it from your best digital camera’s card reader via the camera’s instructions.
  • Find the write-protection switch on the left side. Flip it to the “up” position to unlock it.
  • Reinsert the memory card into your digital camera and you should be good to go.

What Kind of Memory Cards do Digital Cameras Use?

Generally speaking, digital cameras use standard SD or Micro-SD cards as memory cards. Some models can use USB sticks or some form of proprietary memory apparatus. A small number of digital cameras do not use memory cards at all, rather they rely on integrated internal storage.

Insider Tip

Generally speaking, digital cameras use standard SD or Micro-SD cards as memory cards.

How do Memory Cards Become Locked?

Memory cards typically become locked by accident as they are pulled out of or put back into the card memory storage slot. This lock switch is notoriously easy to activate, in other words. In some instances, the memory could have shipped with the lock switch engaged as its default setting. The memory card, just like other critical components such as the digital camera sensors, may affect the quality of images obtained. That’s why manufacturers put extra effort into protecting it.

How Do You Unlock a Memory Card for a Digital Camera?

There may be some variation when it comes to unlocking a camera’s memory card, as there are several different designs floating out there. Here are some general steps you can take to solve the issue.

Remove the Memory Card

Remove one of the flash memory cards from the storage slot as indicated in the instruction manual. The process typically includes pushing down on the card until it pops right out of the card reader. Now you are in a position to see if it is a locked memory card.

Insider Tip

Memory cards typically become locked by accident as they are pulled out of or put back into the card memory storage slot.

Check the Locking Switch

A typical Micro SD card or standard SD card will include a locking switch that activates write protection. Unlock the SD card by first finding this witch. It is typically on the left side of the storage card as it is facing you, though it can sometimes be found as a corner switch. If the locking switch is in the “down” position, then write protection has been engaged.

Unlock SD Card

Unlock the memory card by flipping the tiny plastic switch to the “up” position. The storage device should now be unlocked and it should be ready to be placed back in the source device.

Reinsert the Memory Card

Place the memory card back into the camera as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Voila! Your memory card is good to go. You can now use it to store still and action images captured by your digital camera.


Will the SD card slot work with SD cards that use the exFAT file system?

Most SD cards can be formatted to use the exFAT file system, as this system is available on most common operating systems.

Are there size limitations for the cards that can be inserted into the SD slot?

There very well may be, as a large memory card could create an error message or a memory card error. Be sure to read your camera’s instruction manual to find out if there are any inherent size restrictions regarding memory cards. Sometimes these size restrictions can be lifted as the drivers are updated, so be on the lookout.

Why do SD cards have a lock?

The locked position of an SD lock provides an essential function, as it can stop accidental deletion and stop users from accidentally loading it with unwanted data. This can be really useful when shipping the memory card or loaning it out so someone else can view the contents. Once they have returned the card, you can slip it into the unlocked position.

STAT: 99% of people who use memory cards know to use the little tab slider to un-protect their cards. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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