What to Do If Your External Hard Drive Doesn’t Show Up on Your Mac

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What to Do If Your External Hard Drive Doesn’t Show Up on Your Mac

Macs are robust machines that can be relied on in practically any scenario. They’re usually workhorses, powering through scenarios that might result in a blue screen of death on a Windows PC. However, although faults are uncommon, they are unavoidable in the world of technology.

These difficulties are made more annoying by their rarity, and they may need some investigation. One of the most vexing problems is when an external hard drive fails to appear on a Mac. Even if you’ve followed all of the basic troubleshooting steps, it may still not display. In this post, we’ll show you how to make your external hard drive visible.

How to Connect Your External Hard Drive to a Mac

Let’s start by making sure you’ve correctly connected your external hard drive and going through some basic setup instructions. The stages may differ based on your software version, so if we’ve skipped one, see Apple’s post here. We’re using Catalina and Sierra, but the steps are very much the same.

External drives are a low-cost option to increase storage without replacing the core hard disk. Here’s how to link one.

    MacBook with an external HDD
  1. Finder should open, displaying your external disk. If it doesn’t appear in Finder, it will almost certainly appear in Utilities’ Disk Utility.
  2. Disk Utility icon
    MacOS Finder

You may then troubleshoot the issue and, in most cases, resolve it.

If your external drive still does not display, there are a few basic troubleshooting steps you can do to solve an external hard drive not showing up on Mac. First, we will verify the fundamentals, and then we will ensure that macOS is configured to show external drives, that the drive can be mounted, and that there are no problems on the disk or in its file structure.

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Troubleshooting an External Drive with a Mac

Let’s start with the fundamentals. Make a practice of doing this with any computer difficulties, as it will save you time, money, and trouble in the long run. After all, no one wants to squander half a day because they didn’t notice something wasn’t properly plugged in.

  • Check that the cable connecting the hard disk to your Mac is correctly attached.
  • If the external hard disk requires electricity, ensure that it has it.
  • Examine the cable’s condition and replace it if you have one on hand.
  • If you have a spare, replace the hard disk power cord.
  • If there is another wall outlet nearby, try it.
  • Restart your Mac to determine whether an open application or app was preventing the disk from being identified.
  • Ascertain that the drive has been formatted. Some imported drives are totally empty, and although macOS is supposed to identify and offer to format them, this doesn’t always happen.
  • To rule out drive damage, connect the external drive to another computer and check whether it works there.
  • Check to see whether your drive has or uses a power-saving or sleep feature. If it does, turn it off.
  • Make sure the drive is getting adequate power. A USB cable transmits 5V, which may not be adequate if this is the only power supply for the disk. If you feel this is the problem, use a USB power cord.

You can troubleshoot either the drive or your Mac based on what you see here.

First, ensure that the Finder displays drive icons. It doesn’t reveal much by default, and the option to hide external drives may be activated.

  1. Launch the Finder. Select Finder > Preferences… > General at the upper left of the screen, and tick the box next to External drives.
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If the box is ticked, go to the next step to resolve the external hard drive not showing up on Mac.

Mount the External Drive in Finder

If you believe the drive is functional, let us try if we can manually connect it to macOS. We’ll need to mount it for that. When macOS recognizes the disk, this should be done automatically, but it doesn’t always happen.

  1. If it isn’t already connected, attach the drive.
  2. If the disk is present, look for a volume. If a volume exists but is not mounted, it should be grayed out here.
  3. Select Mount after highlighting the volume. To indicate that it has been installed, the volume should change from gray to normal.
  4. Navigate to the drive under Devices in Finder.

If this does not work, you may need to run the Verify Disk program to ensure that everything is functioning properly.

    Disk Utility
    Disk Utility - First Aid

Running First Aid on an external drive is a good technique to ensure that the format or file structure is free of errors. If there are any, First Aid will rectify them, and macOS should be able to mount the drive without issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

As simple as the interface seems to be on a Mac, the operating system may be rather complex. That’s why we’ve added some more information you may find useful below.

My Disk Utility says ‘Corrupt Disk,’ what does that mean?

If you see your external hard drive yet get the ‘Corrupt Disk’ message, there are several options. Your initial problem might be that the external hard drive isn’t correctly formatted to function with your Mac. Using Disk Utility, you may reformat the external drive.

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1. Simply follow the following steps to access the drive and then click Erase (yes, you need to erase the drive to reformat it).

2. Select ExFat from the format option and click Erase. Your external hard drive should now be visible.

I don’t want to erase my external hard drive to fix it. Is there a solution for this?

As previously indicated, sometimes all you need to do is delete and reformat your hard disk to get it running correctly. If you’ve followed the procedures above and still can’t get your external hard drive to operate, you should copy the contents of that drive to another device (such as a Windows PC).

This manner, you may offload any vital data before using your Mac to reformat the hard disk and get it back up and running.

External Drive Detected

It’s frequently something easy that is preventing your Mac from detecting the external disk that has been plugged in. Check the cable and the settings for identifying external drives first. If it doesn’t work, try using Disk Utility or inserting the disk onto a another computer.

Do you know of any other solutions to the external hard drive not showing up on Mac? If you do, please tell us about it in the comments section!

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