How to Troubleshoot External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

Last updated on November 5, 2018 by Bryan

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How to Troubleshoot External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

Mac devices have USB ports for external disk drives. This allows users to transfer files from a Mac device to a Removable Storage Device and vice versa. However, there are cases of an external hard drive not showing up on Mac. This is something that concerns most people because their files are at stake. When a Mac device fails to recognize and show a hard disk drive that is currently plugged in, it can mean that something is wrong with either both devices. Most cases are caused by the USB hard drive being corrupted. The most efficient way to fix this is to reformat the external hard disk. This can fix the problem of the drive not showing up on Mac, but will delete all the files stored in return. Read on to know other ways to fix the problem of Mac doesn’t recognize external hard drive and a way to restore the files from a Removable Disk Drive.

Plug in the USB Cable Properly

Sometimes the cause of the problem is very simple, people tend to oversight it. Maybe the reason why the Mac doesn’t recognize external hard drive is because the USB cable is not properly connected. Start with the basic, make sure to check the USB cable if it is connected properly. If the problem is still present even though the cable is plugged in properly, then the problem could be the USB cable itself. Consider using a different cable to connect the Drive to the Mac device.

connect properly

Check the Hardware of the Mac Device

Another thing to consider is that the USB port might be damaged or is dead. To check if it’s working, try plugging in a different USB device to the said port, and if it reads the device, then it’s working. On the other hand, if it did not read the device, then the port is not working. Try using other USB ports to connect the USB Drive.

check for damaged ports

Restart the Mac Device

One thing you can also try, is to restart the Mac device. Sometimes the device is busy with other applications and programs that it fails to recognize the USB drive. By restarting the Mac device, its process center will be refreshed and maybe will be able to boot the Hard Disk Drive.

reboot the system

The Disk Drive Format is Wrong

Unlike Windows, Mac can’t read some formats of removable disk drives. Maybe the reason why the hard drive is not showing is because it was not meant to be read by Mac in the first place. To check if the drive you have is compatible with your Mac Device, you can follow the steps below.

Step1 Open the Apple toolbar

From the desktop, navigate and click the Apple icon at the upper left part of the screen.

open mac menu

Step2 Click the About this Mac option

From the list of options on the toolbar, select the “About this Mac” option.

click mac information

Step3 Check if the USB device is listed on the device

Under the “About this Mac” option, click the “Storage” section and check if the Removable Disk Drive is showing up.

check the hdd

Mac Doesn't Have the Storage Icon on the Desktop

Sometimes the Mac device has successfully recognized the Storage device, but it did not show the icon on the desktop. That is why most people get the idea that their Mac device does not recognize their USB device. To show the storage icon on the desktop, follow these steps.

Step1 Go to the Preferences window

Click the “Finder” menu and search for the “Preferences” option.

open preferences window

Step2 Check the External Drives option

Under “Preferences,” click “General” and under that option, tick the checkbox of “External Drives.”

tick the checkbox

Reset the NVRAM of the Mac device

This is one of the go to solutions for most Mac users. NVRAM is where the important information about the device is stored. Most of the time resetting the NVRAM is enough to fix the issue of Mac’s devices. To do this, you will need to restart the Mac device and on the boot up screen, press these keys together: “Option + Command + P + R.” Press these keys until the second startup sound and by that time, the hard disk has appeared.

press the keys simultaneously

Use Disk Utility window

Another way to see if the external hard drive is connected is by going to the Disk Utility window. This window shows the hard drives that are mounted on the device. To go to this window, just click the “System Preference” option or search for it on “Spotlight”.

check disk utilities

Additional Way to Recognize Hard Drives on Mac

There are other ways to make the Mac device recognize the Hard disk drive. The methods above are all effective depending on the situation they were used. To give out more options, here are other ways to troubleshoot your Mac device.

1. Check the Format of the USB Device

select exfat format Most USB devices are well suited for Windows because they are NTFS or FAT32 format by default. However, Mac is different because it can’t read these formats. This reason can cause the hard drive not to show up on Mac’s devices. To make it read the hard drive, format it to APFS or exFAT for the Mac device to be able to read it.

2. Use the Mac Terminal

Terminal is a built in command line tool for Mac. It is used mostly by advanced users because it is command based and can be intimidating for beginners. This tool can perform many functions. One of them is locating the Hard Drive that the system is not showing. Here are the steps on how to use the Terminal to show the USB Hard Drive.

Step1 Launch the Terminal

Go to the Utilities section which is under the “Application” window. Launch Terminal from there and enter the command “diskutil list.”

launch the terminal

Step2 Look for the Drive sector

From the list of information that will appear, look for the “/dev/disk_” section and write down the succeeding information.

select disk device

Step3 Enter the Second Command

After writing the other information, enter these commands “diskutil info disk” and the drive letter or number assigned to the Hard Drive.

enter second commands

Step4 Safely Eject the Hard Drive

From the terminal, type in “diskutil eject disk” followed by the number or letter assigned by the system. Plug out the USB drive and Plug it again to finish the process.

safely eject device

Way to Fix a Broken Hard drive

For Hard Drives that suffered from an error, there is a chance to fix them by using the “First Aid” option of Mac. This is located under the Disk Utility window and can be accessed from the “Spotlight.” Below are the steps on how to use “First aid”.

Step1 Open First Aid from Disk Utility

Open Disk Utility by searching on “Spotlight”.

launch disk utility

Step2 Run First Aid on Hard Drive

On the Disk Utility window, select the Hard Drive that needs to be fixed and select the “First Aid” option and click “Run” to start the process.

run first aid

Recover Files From Unrecognized Hard Drive

If you prefer to reformat the HDD but hate to lose the files stored in it, you can go ahead and use a recovery tool to restore the files that were deleted from the process. Acethinker Disk Recovery is the perfect tool to use when the need arises. It’s a compact tool that can restore files fast and efficiently because of its powerful system. Below are the steps on how to use Acethinker Disk.

Step1 Get the installer and set it up on your Mac

Download the installer of Acethinker Disk Recovery from the buttons below and install it on your Mac device.

Try It for Free

Step2 Launch the Program and Start the Recovery

Open the tool once installation is complete. On the home screen, select the type of files that needs to be recovered and click “Next.”

select the file type

Step3 Scan the External Hard Drive

On the next screen, select the Drive where the files were originally stored and click “Next” to initiate the scan.

disk drive scan

Step4 Recover the Files From the Hard Drive

Once the scan is complete, the list of files deleted from the Drive will appear. Select the files you need and click “Recover” to save the files again.

restore the files

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Cases where new external hard drives not showing up on Mac are common. This situation can frustrate anyone who urgently needs to use the Hard Drive, may it be to transfer or copy files. With the mentioned ways above, hopefully if the same situation happens, there are steps you can follow and fix the issue. However, if you lost your precious files that are stored on the Hard Disk Drive, you can always use Acethinker Disk Recovery. This will allow you to get back all the files that were previously stored, fast and safe.

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January 4, 2019

Post By Bryan to Computer Troubleshooting

Last updated on November 5, 2018

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