How to Format an SD Card in Canon

By Andrew Tennyson

Your Canon camera has a dedicated formatting menu designed to help you clear the contents of the memory card in the device. Formatting the memory card in your Canon DSLR camera removes all images and videos from the device, so back up anything you want to save before proceeding.

Step 1

Turn on the “Power” switch and wait for the camera to power up.

Step 2

Press the “Menu” button to display the camera’s menu on its LCD screen.

Step 3

Use the arrow buttons to scroll through the icons at the top of the screen until you reach the first Settings icon. Settings icons are identified by a picture of a wrench.

Step 4

Press the “Down Arrow” button to highlight “Format” or “Format Card” on the first Settings menu. Which of these choices is available will vary depending on the Canon model you’re using.

Step 5

Press the “Set” button to open the card formatting menu.

Step 6

Select “OK” and press “Set” to confirm you want to format the memory card.

Tips & Warnings

  • Performing standard formatting on your Canon camera deletes photos and videos and changes file management information but does not completely erase all data. To remove everything from your memory card, perform Low Level Formatting. Open the card formatting menu on the Canon camera again, select “Low Level Format” and press “OK.”
  • Low Level Formatting erases all recordable sectors on the memory card. Perform this type of formatting if you’re selling the card or if overall camera performance slows down. Because of its thoroughness, Low Level Formatting takes longer than standard formatting.
  • Press “Cancel” on the formatting menu to cancel the formatting process at any time.
  • The formatting menu also displays how much free space is used and available on your card. The amount used will change after you format the card.
  • Most Canon DSLR cameras use high-capacity SDHC and SDXC cards. Some use CompactFlash cards. The process for formatting the card in your Canon camera is the same regardless of the type of memory card it uses.