How to Format an SD Card for Canon Camera

It can be frustrating when your Canon digital camera seems to be taking longer than usual to read or write data. Perhaps this delay is getting in the way of capturing certain moments or eating up precious time as you wait for your images to load.

You may want to get rid of this marked lag but not know how to, wondering to yourself: why is my Canon so slow to shoot and display images? For me, it did not initially occur to me that the SD card, or Secure Digital card, was at fault for the slow camera speeds.

Fortunately, in just a few steps you can solve this issue simply by formatting the SD card on your Canon digital camera. Formatting an SD card is also recommended when using a new SD card with your Canon camera.

What is Formatting?

When you format an SD card on a Canon camera, you are essentially initializing the memory card and deleting all of the data on the memory card.

Note that Canon cameras offer low-level formatting as well as standard formatting. The former offers a more thorough cleansing. Because low-level formatting completely erases all of the recordable sections within your SD card, it will likely take longer.

However, it will restore your Canon memory card to its full working capacity, akin to its “brand new” state.

Before Formatting Your SD Card

As noted above, formatting will erase your data. You want to ensure that all of your photos have been saved and transferred prior to your SD card formatting.

If by any chance, you’ve erased the card without backing up the files, see this post how to recover Canon pictures or this one how to unformat camera card for solutions.

Be careful not to mishandle the SD card or touch the gold contacts. In addition, you want to keep your SD card in a safe environment (i.e away from extreme temperatures).

How to Format an SD card for Canon? 6-Step Tutorial

Step 1: Turn off your Canon camera. Slide your SD card into the memory card slot (it should fit neatly and pop into the slot) You also want to make sure that the lock on your memory card is set to unlock.

Step 2: Once the SD card has been properly placed in the card slot, turn on your Canon camera.

Step 3: Press the menu button on the Canon camera.

Step 4: On the navigational wheel, use the buttons left and right of “SET” to select the wrench icon on the top menu bar.

Step 5: Now, using the button below “SET”, highlight “Format card”. Here, you may also check low-level formatting if you would like.

Step 6: Press “Ok”, and then “SET” to indicate that you would like to format the card! On certain cameras, the screen will display the amount of data on your SD card.

Final Words

Now your SD card is blank and formatted. It should no longer lag when writing or recording new data, and it will now be compatible with your camera (if you’re using a new memory card).

All in all, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to leave them below in the comments section.

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  • Mariah Sausa

    I’m having problem finding the slot for the SD card

  • Terry

    Thanks for this. it helps this digital-photo newbie!

  • Kitty

    I do all above but camera says it cannot access card. What is the problem. Thanks

  • Jean-Marie Messier

    …trying to help an older friend with his old camera.

    First: the camera (Canon EOS T3) won’t take photos (It does not “click”)
    – battery is fully loaded
    – day time… enough light
    So, I did a “reset to initial settings” on the camera. That worked.
    Then: camera still won’t take photos.
    – Checked the SD card (over 600 photos on it) so, I thought that it may be full. I then put a new SD card in the camera. (Both SD cards were unlocked. That I did check.)
    – Tried to format the new SD card… by manual instructions… All went well till the camera said that it was unable to format “Disk”.

    When I tried to take a photo, The message “Card” show up on the display.

    Thanks for the help you can bring me in helping my friend.

    What do you think is the problem?
    Should I check the firmware?