How to Format SD Cards in a GoPro

It’s always a good idea to format the SD card in the camera. Here’s a rundown of how to do it with recent GoPro models.

So you have a shiny new GoPro and a new SD card that’s fast enough to let you take full advantage of all the camera’s shooting modes.

Formatting your SD card is a good first step as you’re setting your camera up for the first time. It’s also something you’ll want to do routinely after you’ve offloaded your photos and videos and want to delete them to free up space again on the memory card for new shooting.

Formatting your memory card is a pretty fundamental function. But GoPro often buries the information in non-obvious places in the manual, and how you do it varies between models. I get quite a few questions about it, so here’s a rundown of how to format an SD card for GoPros. I’m focusing here on the newer models; the process on older models is along similar lines.

It is best practice to format memory cards in the camera. That’s true not just of GoPros, but with any camera. You can, technically, do it in a computer, but doing it in the camera reduces the chances of something being not quite right and makes sure that the filesystem is set up exactly how the camera wants it. It adds the folders that GoPro cameras use and reduces the risk of stray files creating problems.

Before you start, though, it’s worth reiterating something that might be obvious: formatting the card is going to delete everything on there.

So make sure you’ve downloaded all the photos and footage from it first. If you do accidentally format it, it might still be possible to recover photos or footage from the card, but it’s going to take some extra work and, potentially, the cost of some data recovery software.

How to Format SD Cards in a GoPro Using On-Camera Menus

On some models, you can use the camera’s on-board menu to format. It’s quick, easy, and saves you having to connect to the mobile app.

How to Format SD Cards in a GoPro HERO10 Black, HERO9 Black, or HERO8 Black

  1. Insert the card into the camera and turn it on.
  2. Open the menu on the back screen (swipe down).
  3. Go to Preferences.
  4. Scroll down to Reset.
  5. Choose Format SD Card.

How to Format SD Cards in a GoPro HERO7 Black, Silver, or White

  1. Insert the card into the camera and turn it on.
  2. Open the menu on the back screen (side button).
  3. Go to Preferences.
  4. Scroll down to Reset.
  5. Choose Format SD Card.

How to Format SD Cards in a GoPro HERO6 Black or HERO5 Black

  1. Insert the card into the camera and turn it on.
  2. Open the menu on the back screen (side button).
  3. Go to Preferences.
  4. Scroll to the bottom to “Format SD Card.” Tap on that.
  5. Choose Delete.

HERO5 Session, HERO Session, or HERO4 Session

There’s no way to format the SD card using the camera’s onboard menu system on these cameras. You have to use the GoPro mobile app. See below.

How to Format SD Cards in a GoPro HERO4 Black or HERO4 Silver

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Scroll down to Delete (trash can icon if using the small front screen)
  3. Choose All/Format
  4. Choose Delete
GoPro Delete All on SD Card

How to Format SD Cards Using the GoPro Quik Mobile App

This works with all of the GoPro models that have WiFi.

  1. Insert the microSD card into the camera.
  2. Connect the camera to the GoPro app via Wifi/Bluetooth
  3. In the GoPro app, go into Settings
  4. Scroll down to the Delete Section
  5. Choose Delete All Files from SD Card
GoPro Format SD Card using GoPro Mobile App Screenshot
GoPro Format SD Card using GoPro Mobile App Screenshot

How to Recover Data from a microSD Card

If you’ve accidentally deleted videos or photos from your GoPro’s microSD card, there’s still a good chance that you can recover it.

The first thing to do is stop using the card. The more data is overwritten, the harder it will be to recover what you’re after.

The next thing to do is to use data recovery software to scan the card to find recoverable data. There are a number of options for doing this, including free data recovery software and more comprehensive data recovery software that requires a license.

David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. I've been shooting with GoPros for years, starting with the HD HERO, and have owned and used every model since. More »