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.
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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.

GoPro HERO10 Deals

GoPro has released the HERO10 Black. The MSRP is $499, but GoPro is currently running some great deals:

And with the new model out, it's a great time to pick up a deal on the HERO9 Black. You can get it for $349 with a free spare battery, a 32GB SD card, and a 1-year GoPro subscription. More details here.

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 in 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

What to Do if Your GoPro Photos or Videos Go Missing From Your SD Card

There can be several reasons why photos and videos go missing from memory cards. But you can often recover at least some of them. I have a more detailed post on how to recover deleted GoPro videos and photos from SD cards, but here's the quick version:

  1. Stop using the SD card. This is important, because overwriting the data will make it harder to recover deleted files from it.
  2. Scan the memory card with the free trial versions of either Stellar Photo Recovery or Disk Drill. Both have Windows and Mac versions. The scan will show you whether any files can be found and recovered.
  3. Recover the files. If the apps can find the files, you can then decide whether to buy a full license to run the actual recovery process or to try one of the other options covered here.
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