When the external hard drive is connected to the USB port on a Mac, it should appear on the desktop and in Finder momentarily. The external hard drive icon mounts on the desktop so that the user can easily find it. Some users have reported that when the external hard drive is plugged in, there is no sign of it on the desktop or anywhere else on the Mac.

This means that the user can’t transfer files between the drive and the computer. It also means that some of the data could be corrupt. If you are experiencing this problem, follow the steps in this tutorial to fix the problem and to recover your data.

External Hard Drive not Showing Mac – Reasons

There could be a few reasons why a Mac may not show an external hard drive when connected. If the hard drive has been formatted to work on Mac, but doesn’t show up, then it is likely that the drive is corrupted. If you’re plugging in a new hard drive and it doesn’t show up on Mac, then it could be formatted using an unsupported format.

This post will tell you what to do when an external hard drive is not showing on Mac. You will learn to check the drive for issues and solve the problem so you can access the data. We will be looking at external hard drives that connect to a Mac via the USB or FireWire port. Let’s get started.

Check Your Hardware

If the external drive isn’t mounting on your desktop, it could be for a number of reasons. You should check your hardware first before making any changes to your software:

1. Check to make sure that you are using the correct USB or HDMI cable for the external drive and that it is properly connected to the Mac at the port.

2. Try a different port on your Mac. It’s possible that one USB port works while another doesn’t. If that is the case, this will save a lot of time.

3. You can also try a different external hard drive to see if that is the problem. Try a different external drive that has been working properly if you have one. It could be that the hard drive is damaged.

4. If the problem is solved, the issue was with your hardware. If the problem is not solved, proceed to the next solution.

Restart Your Mac

Make sure that is wasn’t a glitch that stopped your external drive from popping up on the desktop or in Finder under Devices. Restarting your Apple devices has solved many problems.

1. To restart your Mac, go to Apple > Restart (select Restart.) Your Mac will automatically shut down and start back up. You may be asked to close out of some files or apps first.

2. Or, press and hold down the Power button until the dialogue gives you the option to shut down. You may be asked to close out of some files or apps first.

Check Settings on Mac

Finder Preferences

Before you start panicking about the external drive not showing up on Mac, check whether your Mac is setup to show mounted hard drives. To do this, open Finder and then navigate to Preferences from the Menu bar by clicking the Finder option. A pop-up dialogue box should open showing a few options. Make sure that there is a tick next to External Drives. If not, check this box.

Connect to another Mac

You can connect the external hard drive to another Mac or you can even connect another hard drive to your Mac, to find out what is it fault. Sometimes, the USB port on your Mac can be the culprit as it may not be working. If another hard drive is working fine, then there’s a problem with your external hard drive.

If the external hard drive shows up on a Windows PC, then you have formatted the drive incorrectly. If the hard drive is formatted for a Windows PC, then it may not show up on the Mac.

Use Disk Utility

use Disk Utility

Launch the Disk Utility tool on your Mac to check if the external hard drive is being shown. If the hard drive is functioning properly, even if wrongly formatted, it will show up in the left pane of the Disk Utility tool. However, you will not be able to view the contents of the drive as it is in a different format. You can try to Mount the drive, but it may be successful.

If the external hard drive is visible, but not showing up, then you have a working drive. It’s just that the format is not supported by Mac. Clicking on the Mount option will mount the drive if the format is correct. There’s only a few things you can do here. You can either format the drive correctly so your Mac will read it, but that will erase all data, or you can try the First Aid option.

Use First Aid

Run First Aid In Disk Utility, click on the First Aid option after selecting your external drive in the left panel. You will be asked if you want to run First Aid, select Run. This will check the volumes on the hard drive for errors and then repair if needed. This may or may not work. If the drive is in a different format, then the repair will fail.

Erase and Format External Drive

This is probably the best thing to do when your external hard drive isn’t showing up on Mac. Remember, if you erase the hard drive, all the data will be erased. If it’s a new drive, then you shouldn’t worry about it. If not, try taking a backup on a PC.
Select the erase optionYou will need to click on the Erase option after selecting your external hard drive in Disk Utility. If the Hard drive is formatted using NTFS, then it will not show up on Mac. You will have to format it to exFAT or FAT32 if you want the external hard drive to work on both Windows and Mac. If the drive will only be used on Mac, then you should format it in MacOS Extended (Journaled). Once again, all your data will be erased. Click on Erase and the formatting should start. After the formatting is completed, the hard drive should show up on your Mac.

Reset The NVRAM

The NVRAM is a bit of memory that is used by your Mac to store settings that can be quickly accessed. Since the NVRAM settings depend on devices used with your Mac, it may help the problem to reset the NVRAM.

1. Turn your Mac OFF. When turning it back ON, press the Option + Command + P +R shortcut keys for 30 seconds. When the Mac starts up, release the keys (startup sound or Apple logo appears).

If the Mac has a firmware password, reset the NVRAM by disabling the firmware password first. Then reboot your Mac holding down the Command + R shortcut keys to enter Recovery Mode. Go to Utilities > Firmware Password Utility. Choose to turn Firmware Password option OFF. You should receive a notification that your firmware password is now OFF. If you can’t disable your firmware password, contact Apple to have it unlocked. When your Mac has restarted, go to Apple > System Preferences and reset your preferences.

Contact the Genius Bar or Apple Support

If you were not able to get your external hard drive to mount on your Mac desktop by using any of these methods, you can contact the Genius Bar, or Apple Support.