Ender 3 No TF Card Warning – What Causes It & How to Fix It?

While using an SD card to transfer G-code files from your computer to your Ender 3 is usually a pretty convenient process, the data on the SD card suddenly not being picked up by the printer can quickly turn convenience into a nightmare, especially if you don’t have access to an alternative way of transferring the G-code.

In this guide, we will discuss the factors that can cause your Ender 3 to fail to read the inserted SD card, with the “No TF Card” warning message showing up on the screen, and go through the solutions you can apply to fix the problem, which will hopefully get Ender 3 to correctly detect the SD card once again.

Causes & Fixes for the Ender 3 No TF Card Warning

Like many other issues that you can encounter on your Ender 3, finding out what’s preventing the printer from correctly reading the SD card (and causing it to display the No TF Card message as a result) will require some trial and error due to the presence of many possible culprits.

ender 3 no tf card warning


SD Card Using Incorrect Filesystem or Partition Table

An SD card that uses an incorrect filesystem or partition table is the most common cause behind the “No TF Card” warning, as the Ender 3 requires the SD card to be configured and formatted in a specific way for compatibility.

For the SD card to work correctly with your Ender 3, the two conditions are the partition table to be MBR, and the filesystem to be FAT32. If both of these conditions aren’t satisfied at the same time, your Ender 3 won’t be able to detect the SD card.

That being said, if you have been using your SD card without issues for a while now and the problem started occurring despite you not changing anything, a filesystem or partition table incompatibility is practically out of the cards, as these things won’t suddenly change on their own.

On the other hand, if your SD card has never worked with your Ender 3, it’s definitely a good idea to check the partition table and filesystem information by following the steps below, which include methods for all major operating systems.

On Windows, you can use the Disk Management tool to check whether your SD card is correctly formatted by navigating to the properties of the disk and the volume.

For your SD card to be compatible with your Ender 3, the Partition Style section for the disk should read MBR, and the Filesystem section for the volume should read FAT32.

Correctly Formatted Ender 3 SD Card


On Linux, running fdisk -l command on the Terminal will give you the necessary information about the partition table and the filesystem of your SD card.

If your SD card is formatted correctly to work with your Ender 3, the Disklabel Type section should read dos (or msdos), and the Type (or System) section next to the volume entry should read W95 FAT32.

Fdisk list after MBR conversion


Finally, on macOS, you can run the diskutil list command on the Terminal to obtain your SD card’s partition table and filesystem information.

Provided that your SD card has the correct partition table and filesystem, the TYPE section next to the number 0 (the disk itself) should read FDisk_partition_scheme, and the one next to number 1 (the volume) should read WINDOWS_FAT_32.

Diskutil list after MBR conversion


If you have found that your SD card is not using the MBR partition table and the FAT32 filesystem, you will need to convert its partition table and format it correctly, which should get your Ender 3 to detect the card without any problems from then on.

SD Card Uninitialized

In some scenarios, the warning message can appear due to something as simple as the SD card not being automatically initialized by your Ender 3, even when there’s nothing particularly wrong with the SD card or the printer.

While this problem usually happens when you insert the SD card while your Ender 3 is powered on, it doesn’t mean that you will have to reboot your Ender 3 every time you insert the SD card, as there is a menu option that will allow you to perform the initialization manually.

To find out whether this is the problem you’re facing, the first step you will need to take is to use the Init TF Card menu option in the main menu.

ender 3 init tf card menu option


If that worked, you should now see the Print From TF entry in the menu, in which you will find the Refresh option.

ender 3 refresh tf card menu option


Once you click Refresh, provided that the process has worked as intended, you should see the files on the SD card.

If the fix above did not work for you, we recommend following up with ejecting and re-inserting the SD card and power cycling your Ender 3 while the SD card is inside as additional solution steps to ensure that initialization is certainly not the problem.

Corrupted SD Card Filesystem

Another factor that can cause your Ender 3 to fail to read the SD card and throw out the “No TF Card” warning message is a corrupted SD card filesystem.

In most cases, filesystem corruption occurs when the SD card is removed during operation, with examples such as unmounting the card before ejecting it and ejecting the card while a device is writing to it being the most common.

windows eject usb device (sd card)


If your computer detects the SD card (visible in Disk Management in Windows, for instance) but does not allow you to access the volume (and, therefore, the files inside), it’s highly likely that the problem you’re facing is the corruption of the filesystem.

windows disk management corrupted filesystem


In such a scenario, the best course of action is to simply format your SD card (make sure to use the FAT32 filesystem) again, which should resolve any issues regarding the filesystem.

SD Card Damaged Physically

Even though it’s rare, we can’t rule out the possibility of the SD card being damaged physically, which would naturally make it impossible for your Ender 3 to read it.

In such a case, the damage can either be temporary or permanent, with issues such as water damage, scratches, and power surges as examples for the latter and dust and dirt sticking to the pins as an example for the former.

If the SD card is indeed damaged physically, the most apparent sign would be the card also not being detected by any other device, such as your computer, which provides a quick way to verify whether physical damage really is the issue.

For scenarios where the damage is temporary, such as dust and dirt obstructing the pins of the SD card and preventing your devices from reading it, giving the SD card a quick cleaning with the help of a can of compressed air, some cotton buds, and isopropyl alcohol can help to resolve the problem.

On the other hand, in the case of permanent physical damage, such as scratched pins, the only option is to replace the SD card with a new one, as it’s practically impossible to get the SD card back to working reliably in such a situation.

Incompatible SD Card Size

Even though there is no particular piece of information about the supported SD card sizes in the official Ender 3 manual, reports in the community have shown us that large-capacity SD cards are more prone to detection problems.

From what we have seen, problems begin when cards with capacities over 32 GB are used, with scenarios such as the Ender 3 not reading the card at all or only reading it sometimes taking place despite the card not having any problems that would prevent it from being detected.

Combined with the fact that formatting SD cards over 32 GB in size with the FAT32 filesystem can become complex (for instance, the built-in formatting utility in Windows does not support the creation of FAT32 partitions that are bigger than 32 GB), cards with such capacities are simply not worth the trouble.

All things considered, our recommendation to completely prevent any size-related incompatibilities would be to stay in the 2 GB to 8 GB range when picking out an SD card for your Ender 3, and considering that G-code files barely take up any space, there is not much of a reason to use SD cards with higher capacities anyway.

Firmware Problems

Last but not least, firmware-related issues can be what’s preventing your Ender 3 from correctly reading the SD card, as evidenced by users in the community reporting the appearance of the “No TF Card” message right after flashing new firmware.

Such issues are especially likely to arise when you flash forks of Marlin firmware that aren’t directly published by Creality, as the possibility of making a mistake and flashing firmware that isn’t compatible with your particular Ender 3 model or coming across a corrupted firmware file becomes a whole lot more probable.

So, if your Ender 3 has been failing to detect the SD card since you switched to a new firmware, with no detection issues before the switch, there is a good chance that firmware problems are the culprit behind the problem you’re facing.

In this case, the best course of action is to re-flash the firmware you have been using without any SD card issues to confirm that the problem was indeed firmware-related.

You can visit the Creality website to obtain the official firmware file for your Ender 3 if you can’t access the old firmware file you’ve been using.

Once you get that out of the way, you can work towards finding a firmware file from a reputable source that has the features you need and also works correctly with your printer.

Conclusion

Now that you have a better idea of what the “No TF Card” warning means, the factors that can contribute to its appearance, and the corresponding solutions, you can quickly pinpoint what’s causing the problem in your case and hopefully resolve it without too much trouble.

Even though there are some technical parts involved in solving this issue, particularly regarding partition tables and filesystems, it’s not an impossible problem to solve by any means.