External hard drive not visible on Mac: Here are 6 solutions

Why External Hard Drive Not Showing up Mac

In most of time, an external hard drive can be recognized and showing up automatically after it is connected to computer. However, external hard drive not showing up Mac happens frequently to Mac users. It’s an annoying issue, especially when you are eager to transfer data between external hard drive and Mac.

Why your external hard drive won’t show up on Mac? A lot of reasons can be responsible for the issue. Let’s see some common causes for external hard drive not showing up Mac.

▪ There is something wrong with the USB cable or port.

▪ File system of the external hard drive is improper.

▪ There is a problem with the power supply.

▪ System settings are corrupted.

▪ External hard drive is broken or corrupted.

After figuring out the causes, its’ time to fix external hard drive not showing up Mac from these aspects. Please keep reading the rest post to get to know the solutions.

How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing up on Mac

First of all, let’s try a basic method – restarting and reconnecting.  Remove the external hard drive safely from Mac. Then, restart the Mac and connect the external drive again to the Mac to see whether it can be recognized properly.

If this doesn’t work, now you can try following methods.

Method 1. Check Hardware Connection

  1. 1. Change another USB cable to connect.
  2. Try a different USB port.
  3. Try connecting the external hard drive to another health computer.
  4. Try plugging into a different outlet.
  5. Try connecting external hard drive directly to Mac if you are using a hub.

Method 2. Check in Disk Utility

  1. Open Finder, and select Applications on left sidebar.
  2. Click Utilities on right panel.
  3. Click Disk Utility.
  4. In new window, all drives list here.

If you can’t find your external hard drive, check whether it is mounted. Sometimes, it is the reason why the external hard drive doesn’t appear. if your Mac only shows mountable drives, you may modify it by allowing Show All Devices.

How to do it:

Enter Finder > click Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility > View tab > Show All Devices.

After that, all mountable and non-mountable drives can be visible.

Method 3. Change Finder Preferences

The improper settings of Finder preferences may be another reason for external hard drive not showing up Mac. Please follow steps below to change it.

  1. After opening Finder, click Finder on top menu bar and select Preferences.
  2. Shift to General tab.
  3. Check External disks under Show these items on the desktop section.
  4. Click Sidebar tab and also check External disks under Show these items on the sidebar section.

Method 4. Run First Aid to Repair Drive

As a built-in tool in Mac, First Aid is usually used to check and fix disk errors, such as corrupted file system, startup issues, etc. So, just try running First Aid when your external hard drive doesn’t show up on Mac desktop.

  1. Go to Disk Utility window with the steps mentioned in method 2.
  2. Select the target external hard drive on left panel.
  3. Click First Aid on top menu bar.
  4. Hit Run in pop-up window, and finish the rest steps by following the on-screen instructions.

Method 5. Check Disk Format

Disk format may be the reason especially when your external hard drive appears in Disk Utility but can’t be mounted or used. This is because Mac refuses to recognize a drive that is formatted with improper file system.   To solve the problem, you need to reformat the external hard drive.

  1. In Disk Utility window, select the target external hard drive on left panel.
  2. Click Erase on top menu.
  3. Give a name and choose a file system to the disk.
  4. Choose a scheme. Click Erase to confirm.

Method 6. Update macOS

Sometimes, updating OS is a useful solution to external hard drive not showing up Mac. Here is a guide to follow.

  1. Click System Preferences from the Apple menu in the corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Update and wait for the checking process to the end.
  3. Click Update Now if there are updates available.
  4. Just wait until the update process finishes.

How to Recover Data from Crashed Hard Drive Mac

If First Aid can’t help you fix issues on the external hard drive and you plan to format it, it’s necessary to recover data from the external drive first, especially when some important files are stored in it. Actually, it is easy to restore data on Mac just by using a reliable data recovery program for Mac. MiniTool Mac Data Recovery is a nice candidate.

Step 1: Download this App from its official website and install it on your Mac.

Step 2: Launch it to reach its main interface. Choose Damaged Partition Recovery to start.

Step 3: In a new interface, select the target external hard drive (connecting to the Mac) to scan by click Deep Scan.

Step 4: When the scanning process ends, you may see all results folders listed in the left panel. Browser each of them to pick out what you need.

Step 5: Click Save and choose a proper location to keep the select files.


In a word, many reasons can lead to external hard drive not showing up Mac issue. In this post, I have displayed 6 common methods to fix it. Just choose one or more methods according to your situation to get the problem solved.

Please feel free to leave a comment in section below if you have any thoughts or questions when dealing with this issue.

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