Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

GoPro Hero SD card issues & MP4 files not readable / recognised fix

I just got a GoPro Hero 2 for Christmas and have been using it while skiing but had a couple of issues with it.

SD card error / how to format the SD card in the GoPro

The first problem I ran into was that I had just stuck the SD card in assuming that the GoPro would be okay with the default formatting (probably FAT – I hadn’t checked), but it was not. Instead the GoPro came up with “SD card error” which at first made me think I’d bought a duff card!

However, after some Googling I discovered that you need to format any new SD card in the GoPro. The option is actually rather hidden. You have to follow these steps:

  • 1. Insert the SD card
  • 2. Turn it on (hold the front button)
  • 3. Press the front button until the screen shows a white-on-black spanner symbol
  • 4. Press the top (shutter) button
  • 5. Pres the front button again until the screen shows three dots and “more”
  • 6. Press the top button again
  • 7. The screen should now show a trash can symbol – press the top button again
  • 8. Press the front button twice to scroll down to “ALL/format”
  • 9. Press the top button (it will then show “DELETE ALL?”
  • 10. Press the front button to scroll onto “YES”
  • 11. Press the top button and hey-presto your SD card is formatted!

MP4 files not recognised or unreadable

The first time I used it everything was fine; I was able to insert the SD card directly into my MacBook air and then copy the video files off it.

But the next day when I tried to do the same thing, all the .MP4 files I had recorded on the slopes were there but none of my video applications (iMovie, QuickTime, VLC and DivX) could read nor recognise them as video. This was obviously very frustrating!

However, I realised that I had deleted the MP4 files using my laptop rather than with the steps above and had a flash of inspiration, which turned out to be correct! Since only using the GoPro itself to delete the movie files I have not had the same issue with unreadable movie files again.

This has not helped me salvage those videos from the second day though so if anyone knows how please let drop me a comment!


While on the subject, I do think my GoPro Hero 2 is awesome! The quality is astonishing and vastly better than strapping a “sports” camera to me helmet that didn’t have a fishbowl lens! The lens really makes the difference – you don’t have to really point very accurately and it produces quite stable images. It is no good for long-range shots though so if you want to take movies of someone else doing cool stuff I suggest you just use the video mode on your hand-held camera (no need for a dedicated video camera really these days!).

Two short examples of footage below: