External hard drives are not only renowned for their data storing capability but also for their portability function. Whenever you connect your external hard drive or USB to your Mac computer it shows up not only on the desktop but also in the Finder menu on the left-hand side under Locations or Devices.
If you have found that the external hard drive is not showing up on Mac then, the problem could be due to various reasons like the external hard drive or USB corruption, faulty USB connector, hidden drive, physical damage to the drive, improper formatting, etc.
Regardless of the reasons for the external hard drive not showing up on Mac, by following the proven methods given below you can fix the issue with ease.
How to Fix External hard drive not showing up on Mac?
Here is a complete guide on how to fix Mac does not recognize the external hard drive issue. And also find out a safe method of recovering data from external hard drive not showing up on Mac using the Remo Recover tool.
- Fix issue related to External hard drive and USB cable connectivity.
- Fix logical problems related to Mac not recognizing external hard disk.
- Run First Aid Utility to repair unrecognized or corrupt external hard drive.
- Recover Data from external hard drive not showing up on Mac without formatting the drive.
- Format external hard drive not showing up on Mac safely.
Method 1: Connect the External Hard drive Properly
The first and foremost thing to do after your external hard drive doesn’t show up on Mac is to check if the external hard disk is properly connected to the Mac or not. Once, it is confirmed that the external hard drive is properly connected to your Mac, then your Mac will easily recognize the external hard drive and the data present on it or else move on to the next method.
Method 2: Fix issues with the USB cable
Plug-in the unrecognized external hard drive to a different USB port of your Mac system to check for any hardware issues. It might look like child's play but inserting an external hard disk to other USB port can help you understand whether the issue is pertaining to the hard drive failure or USB cable.
If there is an issue with the USB cable or HDMI cable connecting your external hard drive to Mac then, it is obvious that external hard drive won’t show up. If your MacBook such as MacBook Pro or MacBook Air is having USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports then, you need to make use of USB-C to USB adapter to connect the external hard drive to your Mac.
Fixing the damaged USB cable becomes a priority to connect your external hard disk to the Mac system. You can easily figure out the issue by making use of a different USB cable to connect your external hard drive with a Mac computer.
In case, if you still find out that the external hard drive is not showing up on Mac despite using different USB cables then, it can be resolved by changing the preference settings on Mac.
But before you move on to the next method, try to restart your Mac computer once.
Method 3: Reset Mac computer
Resetting a Mac computer can reboot a few system settings to its default and ensure any issue with respect to it is resolved. To Restart your Mac computer,
Go to the Apple menu and click Restart. (or) Press and hold the power key until a dialog box displays and hit the Restart or press R key.
Method 4: Change Show Preference Settings to Make external hard drive visible on Finder
One of the reasons for Mac not recognizing your external hard drive is due to Show Preference settings. If you have not allowed your Mac to find the external hard disk in the preference setting then, your Mac computer won’t show up external hard disk on the desktop. To allow your Mac to show up the external hard drive, follow the below steps to edit preference setting;
- Open a Finder window.
- Go to Preference and select General.
- Under “Show these items on the desktop”, check the External disks option.
If this setting is already setup or your external hard drive is still not showing up on the Mac desktop after the above changes then, here is what is recommended for you.
In most cases, the above-mentioned tips will help you resolve the issue of external hard drive not showing on Mac desktop or Finder menu. Despite performing the above steps if the external hard drive does not show up on Mac then, continue reading the further section.
Method 5: Use different Mac Computer
If you still find your Mac not recognizing hard drive then, try connecting the external hard disk to a different Mac system, sometimes there might be a problem with your Mac computer itself.
Method 6: Repair external hard drive not showing on Mac using Disk Utility
(It is recommended to perform this method to run first aid utility to fix external hard disk only after performing the above methods.)
Make use of the Disk utility function to check if your external hard drive is showing up or not and fix some common USB or external hard drive errors on Mac.
- Navigate to Go > Utilities > Applications > Disk Utility
- If your external hard drive appears in the Disk Utility, right-click on the drive and select Mount. This will make your external hard drive option available on the desktop and in the Finder menu. Thus, you can access all your files present on the external hard drive.
(Note: If the Mac has already mounted your external hard drive (volume) then, the option Unmount will be displayed.)
- If the drive is not accessible then, the Mount option will be greyed-out.
(Note: To repair your inaccessible or not showing external hard drive Run First Aid.)
- Now, choose the First Aid option and click Run.
- After running the First Aid, if the Disk Utility detects any issues or errors on the external hard drive then, click Repair Disk.
With the help of the above method, you can easily repair the minor external hard drive errors to mount it on the Mac computer to access data from it. In case, if the first aid utility fails to repair the external hard drive or SSD, this indicates the following reasons;
- Your external drive is severely corrupt or broken
If First Aid Disk Utility fails to repair the drive, it could be due to the RAW or broken drive. The file system registry that holds the information of the data present on the drive gets broken or damaged then, Mac would not recognize the external hard drive connected to it.
- The external hard drive file system is not compatible with Mac
External hard drive or USB is formatted using a file system that your Mac cannot read. For example, if an external hard drive is formatted using the NTFS file system then, no Mac computer can read or write the external hard drive. In the same way, if the external hard drive or USB is formatted with the HFS+ file system then, no Windows operating system can support it.
ExFAT and FAT32 are the two most common file systems that can be easily supported by both Windows and Mac operating systems.
The only method available to fix this issue of external hard drive not showing up on Mac is to format the crashed external drive on Mac using exFAT, FAT32, HFS+, or APFS, etc.
Note: It is recommended to copy all your external hard drive data by connecting it to you a Windows computer if it is visible on it. In case, if the external hard drive is neither showing up on Widows computer due to severe malfunction. Then, the below method can help it.
Utilize Remo Recover Mac, a specialized data recovery tool designed to recover data from an external hard drive that is corrupt, unreadable, or inaccessible on Mac devices. With the help of advanced scanning algorithms, the tool safely recovers data from external hard drive not showing up on Mac. The tool also supports data recovery of more than 300 file types such as photos, videos, PDF files, audio files, raw-images, excel files, etc. Download this tool now!
Recover data from external hard drive not showing up on Mac using Remo Recover Mac software:
Download and install Remo Recover (Mac) software > Launch the tool and click on Recover Volumes/ Drives > choose Volume Recovery > Select the external hard drive to be recovered > click on Advance Scan > Select the files which you want to recover and click Save button to restore the data on any location of your choice.
Watch this video to know how to restore data from unrecognized or corrupt external hard drive on Mac
Method 7: Reformat your unrecognized External hard drive to exFAT, Mac OS Extended (Journaled), FAT, or APFS File system
Before you reformat your external hard drive on Mac to fix the issue of not showing external hard drive on Mac, it is suggested to recover data from it using the Remo Recover Mac tool.
- Navigate to Disk Utility
- Select the external hard drive not showing up on Mac and click the Erase option
- Now, give a new name to your external hard drive (optional)
- Click the Format button to choose the format type you want to perform on it. (Select exFAT if you want to make sure it's compatible with PC and Mac, otherwise, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is probably the best option)
- Click on the Erase option and wait until the Disk utility function removes all the files present on the external hard disk and then reformat it with the selected file system.
However, formatting the SD card or external HDD on Mac will lead to a data loss scenario. Hence, it is suggested to first recover data from the external hard drive. A professional data recovery software like Remo Recover Mac easily recovers files from the external hard drive, it even works with the latest macOS Big Sur.
In most cases, selecting External disks under Show these items on the desktop fixes the issue. However, if the issue is related to the external hard drive corruption then, it requires formatting the drive with compatible Mac file systems like exFAT or APFS.
Remo Recover Mac, not only recovers data from corrupt external hard drive on Mac but also recovers data from formatted internal and external devices like external hard drive, SSD, USB, memory card, etc.
Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.
As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.