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- Ensure your CAC reader works with Mac
- Check to ensure your Mac accepts the reader
- Check your Mac OS version
- Check your CAC’s version
- Update your DOD certificates
- Guidance for Firefox Users
- Look at graphs to see which CAC enabler to use
Step 1: Purchase a Mac Friendly CAC Reader
Purchase a CAC reader that works for your Mac. There are only a couple that you can choose from and I’ve listed them below.
If you already have a CAC reader and it isn’t Mac friendly, you could update the firmware, however, for the non-tech savvy people out there, it’s probably better to just purchase a new one and save the headache – they’re only ~$11-13 dollars.
Best Mac Compatible CAC USB Readers
Best Mac Compatible CAC Desk Readers
Step 2: Plug in and Ensure It’s Accepted
Once you have your CAC reader, plug it into your Mac and ensure your computer recognizes it. If you have one of the CAC readers we suggested above, then you should be good to go.
If for some reason your CAC reader isn’t working, you may need to download the appropriate drivers for your CAC reader. You can find these drivers on the Reader’s Manufacturer Website.
Step 3: Update Your DOD Certificates
Now that you have your CAC reader connected and accepted on your Mac computer, it’s time to ensure you have the right certificates in order to access DOD CAC required web pages.
Procedure for Chrome and Safari
- Type ⇧⌘U (Shift + Command + U) to access your Utilities
- Find and Double click “Keychain Access”
- Select “Login” and “All Items”
- Download the following five files and double click each once downloaded so as to install in your Keychain Access.
- When you double-click the Mac Root Cert 3 and 4, you’ll need to tell your browser to always trust them. Click the button like you see below:
Additional Steps for Firefox
If you’re using Mozilla Firefox as your primary browser, you’re going to need to perform some additional steps. First, perform the same steps that you did for Chrome and Safari. Afterwards, follow these additional steps to get started.
*If you’re having issues downloading the zip file below, try right clicking the link and opening the file in a new tab.
- Download All Certs zip and double click to unzip all 39 files
- While in Firefox, click “Firefox” on the top left, then “Preferences”
- Then Click “Advanced” > “Certificates” > “View Certificates”
- Then Click “Authorities” and then “Import”
- Import each file individually from the “AllCerts” folder. When you do this, the below box will popup. Check all three boxes and click “OK”
Step 4: Download and install CAC Enabler
Choosing the right CAC enabler can be pretty tricky. It all depends on what OS you have installed, how you installed it, and even what kind of CAC Card you have!
In order to get the right enabler, be sure to visit our trusty guide to Mac CAC Enablers! It’ll walk you through exactly which enabler is right for you.
CAC Access at Home Success
Now that you have a CAC reader, certificates, and a CAC Enabler, you should now be able to access any CAC-enabled website and log on using your CAC password and data.
Common Reasons Why Your CAC Card Won’t Work On Your Mac
Ensure Your CAC Card Meets the Standards: In order for your CAC card to work, it must meet the minimal requirements. Currently, there are only four types of CAC cards that can be used. The ensure you have the right CAC card for online access, flip your CAC card to the back and if you have one of the below numbers written on the top left, then you are good to go:
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- G&D FIPS 201 SCE 3.2
- Oberthur ID one 128 v5.5 Dual
- GEMALTO DLGX4-A 144
- GEMALTO TOP DL GX4 144
If you do not have any of the above written on the back, then proceed to your nearest PSD to get a new CAC card issued.
What is SD?
SD describes devices that conform to SD standards for non-volatile memory cards. See the SD Association website for details.
Are there size limitations for the cards that can be inserted into the SD slot?
Yes. The SD card specification for a memory card is 32mm by 24mm by 2.1mm. You can also use thinner cards, such as MultiMediaCards (MMC). Avoid using cards that have a thickness greater than 2.1mm, as they might damage the SD card slot if you try to insert them.
Which SD card formats work in the SD card slot?
Cards that conform to the SD 1.x, 2.x, and 3.x standards should work. The SD card slot can use:
- Standard SD, 4MB to 2GB
- SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity), 4GB to 32GB
- SDXC, 4GB to 2TB
- MMC (MultiMediaCards)
- UHS‑II, up to 2TB (iMac Pro only)
You can use a passive adapter like the one shown here to make MiniSD, MicroSD, and higher density formats like MiniSDHC and MicroSDHC conform to the width and thickness specifications listed above:
How fast can my Mac read or write to an SD card in the SD card slot?
Mac notebooks use the USB bus to communicate with the SD card slot. They have a maximum speed of up to 480Mbit/s. Mac desktops use the PCIe bus to communicate with the SD card slot. Desktops can transfer data at a faster rate.
Check the packaging that came with your SD media to determine the maximum transfer rate that your specific card uses.
To determine the maximum transfer speed of your Mac, you can use System Information. Choose Apple () menu > About This Mac and then click System Report.
If you use a Mac notebook:
- Select Hardware, then select USB.
- Select Internal Memory Card Reader and look for the Speed entry.
If you use a Mac desktop computer:
- Select Hardware, then select Card Reader.
- Look for the Link Speed entry. Computers that use the PCIe bus express their speed as GT/s.
Does the SD slot work with cards that exceed 32GB?
Yes. However, most media manufacturers preformat the media using common block-and-cluster sizes that don’t approach the theoretical limits of a given file system.
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Most SD cards use the FAT32 file format, and preformatted FAT32 SD media is commonly available up to a capacity of 32GB. Media that exceeds 32GB usually uses the exFAT file system, while some smaller capacity cards use the FAT16 file format. Preformatted FAT16 media is generally available up to a capacity of 2GB.
If you use OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5 or later, you can find out which file system you’re using:
- Insert the media into the SD card slot.
- Choose Apple menu > About This Mac.
- Click System Report.
- In the Hardware section, click Card Reader, and find the File System field.
Will the SD card slot work with SD cards that use the exFAT file system?
Yes. Any Mac that has an SD card slot and is running OS X 10.6.5 or later can use the exFAT file system.
exFAT is also supported in Boot Camp with Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 on any Mac made in 2011 or later with an SD card slot.
How do I insert media into the SD card slot?
When you insert the card, make sure that the metal contacts face down and point toward the computer. Don’t force media into the SD card slot, as this might cause damage.
How does my Mac use the media inserted into the SD card slot?
Your computer recognizes a card inserted into the SD card slot as a USB storage device. You can mount, read from, and write to the SD card just like you can with any other USB storage device.
I put the card in the slot, but it didn’t mount. What should I do?
Remove the card and insert it again. Sometimes the SD card won’t mount properly if you put it into the slot too slowly.
When I try to write content to the card, I get a 'cannot be modified' message. How can I fix this?
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You see this message when you try to edit data on an SD card that’s locked. You need to use the lock slider to unlock the card before you can edit the data.
To eject the card, drag the icon that represents the card to the Trash. After the icon disappears from the desktop, you can remove the card from the computer. Adjust the lock slider tab to unlock the card, then reinsert the card into the slot. See the manufacturer’s instructions for the location of the slider tab.
Can I use Disk Utility to reformat an SD card?
You can use Disk Utility to partition and format an SD device as FAT32 (using the MS-DOS FAT setting) or Mac OS Extended. The Mac OS Extended format can be used only on Macintosh systems. Non-Apple systems won’t recognize cards formatted to Mac OS Extended.
You might have to format a card that’s larger than 32GB with exFAT if you want to use it with a digital camera, GPS, or another device. When in doubt, format the card in the device that you intend to use it with.
Can I install macOS on an SD storage device and use it as a startup volume?
Use Disk Utility to change the default partition table to GUID. Then format the card to use the Mac OS Extended file format.
How do I remove a card from the SD card slot?
Before you remove the card, allow any data transfer to SD media to complete. To eject the card, drag the icon that represents the card to the Trash. After the icon disappears from your desktop, you can remove the card from the slot.
Don't remove a card while your Mac is sleeping, as this could lead to data loss. Always wake your computer and eject the SD card before removing it from your Mac.
Can I use Secure Digital Input Output (SDIO) cards?
Can I use macOS to see the specifications for the interface hardware and media inserted in the SD card slot?
You can get information about the interface hardware and the media that you inserted in the slot from the System Information:
- Choose Apple menu > About This Mac.
- Click System Report.
- In the Hardware section of System Information, select USB.
- In the list of USB devices, select Internal Memory Card Reader to access information about the interface hardware and the media inserted into the SD card slot.
Can I use the SD card slot while running Windows using Boot Camp?
The SD card slot works with Boot Camp in all supported versions of Windows. You’ll need to download and install the Windows Support Software to use the SD card slot with Windows.
Learn more about using Windows on a Mac.
Can I use an SDXC card on my Mac with Windows?
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You can use an SDXC card in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 with these Mac computers:
- MacBook Pro (Early 2011 and later)
MacBook Pro models from 2016 and later don't have a built-in SD card slot. You can use a USB-C card reader, or a combination of a USB-C to USB Adapter and a USB card reader.
- MacBook Air (Mid 2011 and later)
- Mac mini (Mid 2011 and later)
Mac mini (Mid 2010) doesn't support SDXC cards.
- iMac (Mid 2011 and later)
iMac (Mid 2010) doesn't support SDXC cards.
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Can I use an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card to install Windows on my Mac?
Difference Between Mac And Pc
No. You can’t use SD, SDHC, or SDXC cards with Boot Camp to install Windows software on Mac computers.