So you have a shiny new GoPro and a new SD card that's fast enough. 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 regularly 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 product manuals don't explain how to do it, and the way in which you do it varies a little between models. I get quite a few questions about it, so here's a rundown of how to do it in recent GoPro models.
It's best practice to format memory cards in the 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. That's true not just of GoPros but with any camera.
And, obviously, 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.
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 HERO6 Black or HERO5 Black
- Insert the card into the camera and turn it on.
- Open the menu on the back screen (side button).
- Go to Preferences.
- Scroll all the way to the bottom to "Format SD Card". Tap on that.
- Choose Delete.
HERO5 Session, HERO Session, or HERO4 Session
There's no way to format the SD card using the camera's on-board 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
- Go to Settings
- Scroll down to Delete (trash can icon if using the small front screen)
- Choose All/Format
- Choose Delete
How to Format SD Cards Using the GoPro Mobile App
This works with all of the GoPro models that have WiFi.
- Insert the microSD card into the camera.
- Connect the camera to the GoPro app via Wifi/Bluetooth
- In the GoPro app, go into Settings
- Scroll down to the Delete Section
- Choose Delete All Files from SD Card
Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
How to Maximize a GoPro's battery life
There are several factors that influence how long the GoPro's battery life lasts. Among them include what mode you're recording in (4K uses more power than 1080p30, for instance), the health of the battery, and even the environmental temperature (lithium batteries don't perform well in very cold temperatures). But there are some things you can do to maximize battery life. Not every GoPro has all of these features, but start with these:
- Minimize use of the back screen
- Turn off wireless
- Turn off voice commands
- Turn off GPS
- Turn off Protune
- Use QuickCapture mode
Is it normal for GoPro cameras to get hot?
Yes. Depending on the model and the shooting mode you're using, it's normal for GoPros to get quite warm while shooting. They can get hot enough to be uncomfortable to touch. It's especially noticeable when shooting high-resolution and high-framerate video. Some newer models have an overheating protection mechanism that will shut the camera down if it gets too hot. I have more details on GoPros getting hot, here.
How can I control a GoPro remotely?
GoPro makes a range of wireless remote controls. They don't all work with all GoPros--for example, the HERO (2018) isn't compatible with this type of remote control. Many of the newer models also work with the GoPro mobile app. Not every model can be controlled remotely, but most of the newer models have wireless compatibility that can be used for at least some methods of remote control.
Can you take pictures with a GoPro?
If you've been using a GoPro for a while, this might seem pretty obvious, but if you've never used one, it's not quite so self-evident. GoPros are best known for dramatic action videos, but they can most certainly take still photos too. In fact, they can be a very interesting alternative to a traditional camera so long as you work within its limitations. I have more more details here.
Do GoPro wireless controls work underwater?
No. You can't use the mobile app or a wireless remote control if the camera is fully submerged in water. They will normally work just fine in rain and spray--just not submerged. I have a more detailed explanation here.
Do GoPro touchscreens work underwater?
No. If they're just wet above water, they can work to some extent, although often less reliably. But the touchscreens won't work underwater.