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 »

16 thoughts on “How to Format SD Cards in a GoPro”

  1. GoPro assigns a random volume label to the SD card during formatting. Is there a way to have the camera or the mobile app assign a specific, user defined, volume label? In Linux I use this command after placing the SD card in a reader:

    mlabel -i /dev/sdd1 -s ::GoPro_01 (where the device number, i.e. sdd1, is assigned by the system and the GoPro_XX is something I choose to use).

    It would be great if there was a way (hoping there is) to have the camera or the app allow the user to enter a volume label. I have a number of cards because I don’t always have time to download clips (I ride motorcycles and use my GoPro as part of my daily commute as well as longer rides with friends). It helps me stay organized if I number the SD cards or name them after one of my bikes and a date, etc. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. I have a go pro 7 silver. I put in a brand new scandisk extreme 32gb SD card to be formatted.
    It is still formatting after 15 mins. Is there something wrong with it???

    Reply
    • It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds, so something seems to be going wrong there. These are the things I’d try:

      – Power off the camera, take out the memory card, reinsert it, power on the camera, and repeat the formatting process.
      – Try formatting in a computer first using the [SD Card Formatter app](https://havecamerawilltravel.com/sd-card-formatter-app/). If that works, then try again in the camera.

      If those don’t work, it sounds increasingly like there might be a problem with the card or the camera. If it does it again with a new card, it suggests the camera. If you try a new card and it works fine, it suggests the card was the problem.

      Reply
  3. First time using new gopro 7 black. I put the micro sdxc sandisk ultra 128Gb, but the gopro ask for formatting due to sd card error. But how long to do the formating since it takes so long. Tx

    Reply
    • It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds with a healthy card. If the card has faults or errors, the formatting will fail. You could try repairing/checking it using software on your desktop, or, ideally, switch it out for a different card. For what it’s worth, the Ultra cards often aren’t fast enough for the high-end video modes of the HERO7 Black. Safer bets, and not much more expensive, is to step up to the Extreme range cards.

      Reply
  4. just purchased a 4K ultra extral HD action cam and inserted a samsung 64GB card into the camera and tried to format the card but camera says insert card? I tried a 32GB card out of our dash cam and it works fine in the gopro. do you have any ideas on how to solve the problem. Also fitted the samsung card into an adaptor and tried it in a still camera and it worked fine so gopro seems to work ok as does the 64gb card but put the two together and its no go. please help

    Reply
      • “4K ultra extral HD action cam” this is all that is on the camera David. I googled the name in commas and its on youtube but no suitable info about it.
        cheers Paul

        Reply
        • OK, so that’s not one produced by GoPro but rather a different brand? In that case, I suspect it’s a model that doesn’t support microSDXC cards. Those are the cards that are 64GB and above. So you’ll want to stick to cards 32GB or smaller, and they’ll have microSDHC on the packaging or product description somewhere (that’s all 32GB cards—you won’t find 32GB cards sold that aren’t microSDHC).

  5. Hi, would like to check if Sandisk Ultra 400GB class 10 a1 micro sd xc1 can be used in gopro hero 6? Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • You can use it, but there’s a risk of running into problems when recording at the higher bitrate video modes or using the burst modes. The Ultra line isn’t intended to handle those higher-demand video modes in the way that the Extreme and higher lines in the SanDisk range are.

      Reply
  6. hi dave,

    I’m using a Kingston 64 gb micro sdxc 1. will this work with my new hero5 session that is en route?
    thanks,
    robert

    Reply
    • The Kingston model SDCA10, which is one I’ve speed tested, is on the very bottom end of the speed requirements for the HERO5 Black. I haven’t tested it specifically in the HERO5 Black. It should work, but it’s probably a bit borderline.

      Reply

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