How To Locate An External Hard Drive On Mac


Look in the column on the left to see if the hard drive appears there. If you can see the hard drive in Disk Utility check underneath it for a volume. If it is there click on it and select Mount. May 04, 2021 If Mac can’t find an external hard drive, it could be due to your preferences. That means it is mounting to your computer, but you are unable to see this step happen. When you think this issue could be preventing you from seeing the external storage, follow these steps to resolve the issue. How To Transfer Photos On Mac To External Hard Drive For Mac. Transfer Hard Drive To New Hard Drive. You can store your library on an external storage device, such as a USB or Thunderbolt drive formatted as APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled). 1 Find out how to check the format of your external storage device.

Summary :

Check that in Finder Preferences General it is set to show external disks. Failing that open Disk Utiliy (Applications Folder Utilities Folder) and see if the HD shows there and will let you mount it. In any case it would be worthwhile using Disk Utiliy to verify the disk in question. MoreLess Feb 1, 2012 7:07 PM.

Many people are complaining about the same problem: external hard drive not showing up on Mac. Actually, the external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, and even internal hard drive maybe not detected by Mac sometimes due to different reasons. 11 useful solutions are provided here to help users fix hard drive not working on Mac.

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In general, a hard drive or flash drive will be recognized and showing up on the desktop automatically after it’s connected to Mac. However, it’s true that there are chances for Mac not reading external hard drive after users connected the drive to Mac. External hard drive not showing up Mac is a hot topic among users. A lot of reasons should be blamed when you can't see external hard drive: the cable or port issue, corrupted system settings, improper file system, virus attack, etc. It’s important to figure out the causes of Mac not recognizing external hard drive (internal hard drive, USB flash drive, or SD card) and try the corresponding methods to fix the problem.

Tip: You can go to the home page to get various tools (data recovery software for both Windows platform and Mac platform, system backup software, video converter, screen recorder, etc.) for solving computer problems & improving performance.

How to fix hard drive not showing up on Mac? I’ll demonstrate the Solutions from 3 aspects.

External Hard Drive Not Showing Up Mac

How To Locate An External Hard Drive On Mac Desktop

In this section, I’ll summarize some popular causes for Mac not recognizing external hard drive and the corresponding tips on how to find external hard drive on Mac.

First of all, I’d like to advise Mac users to solve external drive not showing up by: removing the external drive completely -> restarting Mac (repeat this action for several times to see whether it works) -> re-connecting the external drive to Mac properly. If this didn’t work, please try the following methods.

How to fix external hard drive not showing up or recognized on Windows?

The problem – external hard drive not showing up/recognized/detected – can be fixed easily by following ways.

#1. Take a Look at the System Information

Seagate external hard drive not showing up Mac:

How To Locate An External Hard Drive On Mac Mini

Hi. I have a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus external hard drive, and it won’t show up in my Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is the 2006 Intel Xeon model running 10.6.8 Snow Leopard. The System requirements for the external HDD are snow leopard or higher, so I don't know why it isn't working.

P.S. When I plug in the USB cable into the computer, the HDD starts to spin, but it never shows up in the finder or on the desktop. Also, this HDD works in my MacBook Pro, but not the Mac Pro. If anyone has any useful information, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. - posted by DisneyWorld in Apple Community

Many people are trying to help by providing possible solutions to Mac won't recognize external hard drive after DisneyWorld published this post to ask for help. Finally, DisneyWorld got his drive showing up and working after inspected it in System Report.

How to Check Using System Report

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner.
  2. Select About This Mac from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on the System Report… button in the pop-up window (below the information about your Mac & its operating system).
  4. Check the external hard drive there.

#2. Check Hardware for Problems

How do I get my Mac to recognize a hard drive connected through USB? Here are some quick tips.

  • Please try a different port on your Mac.
  • Check whether the USB connector/USB adapter works well.
  • If you’re using a hub, please try to plug your external hard drive directly into the Mac.
  • If you’re plugging into a wall outlet, please try a different outlet.
  • Please check the cable to see whether it’s physically damaged (whether there are snug fits, frayed cables, or missing pins). You can also try to use a different USB cable.
  • Connect the external hard drive to another Mac or a PC. You can also test the disk on PC manually.
  • Please try to connect the external device to its own power source, if applicable.

How to fix when USB flash drive not recognized on Windows?

Various solutions are provided for you to fix USB flash drive not recognized error and recover data from the inaccessible flash drive.

#3. Change Finder Preferences

Why is my external hard drive not showing up Mac? Another common reason is that the Finder preferences settings are not proper. How to change the settings?

  1. Open Finder on your Mac.
  2. Select Finder from the menu bar at the top.
  3. Choose Preferences from the submenu you see.
  4. Go to the General tab and look for the Show these items on the desktop section.
  5. Check External disks option under it.
  6. Then, go to the Sidebar tab at the top.
  7. Check External disks under Show these items on the sidebar.

#4. Check in Disk Utility

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Select Applications from the left sidebar (under Favorites).
  3. Choose Utilities from the right-hand panel.
  4. Click on Disk Utility to open a new window.
  5. Browse the drives list here.

External Hard Drive Not Mounting Mac

Sometimes, your external hard drive won't mount. If you find the external hard disk in Disk Utility but it doesn’t shows up, it may be not mounted. Not mounting and improper disk format (how to check disk format will be talked later) are two of the common reasons causing new hard drive not showing up.

How to mount external hard drive Mac?

  1. Select the target external hard drive from the left sidebar.
  2. Click on the Mount option from the menu bar at the top.

If your Mac is set to show only mountable drives, you should try to fix Mac not recognizing external hard drive by allowing Show All Devices.

  1. Open Finder -> select Applications -> select Utilities -> choose Disk Utility.
  2. Select View from the menu bar at the top of the window.
  3. Click Show All Devices from the drop-down menu to view all mountable and non-mountable drives.

#5. Repair the Disk with First Aid

First Aid is a tool built in Mac to check disk for errors (startup problems, corrupted files, corrupted file system, etc.) and then repair them. If your external hard drive appears but not shows up on desktop, please run First Aid.

  1. Repeat step1 ~ 4 mentioned in method 4.
  2. Select the problematic external hard drive from the left panel.
  3. Click on the First Aid option in the top menu bar.
  4. Click Run in the pop-up confirmation dialog window.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to continue.

How to Recover Data from Mac Hard Drive


You may find some important files not showing in the external hard drive (internal hard drive, flash drive, SD card, etc.). How to get them back on Mac? You should get a professional recovery tool that supports Mac to help you (Stellar Data Recovery for Mac, jointly designed by MiniTool and Stellar, is a good choice).

How To Locate An External Hard Drive On Mac Laptop

  1. Download the software to a location which doesn’t contain any lost files (to avoid data overwriting).
  2. Double click on the setup program and follow the on-screen instructions to finish the installation process.
  3. Run the software to start the recovery process (please make sure the external disk is always connected properly to Mac).
  4. In the Select What To Recover page, please toggle the switch under Recover Everything to ON or choose the file types you need from Documents, Emails, Videos, Audio, and Photos.
  5. Click on the Next button to continue.
  6. Choose the target hard disk which can’t show up on Mac in the next Select Location page.
  7. Click on the Scan button in the lower right corner to start scanning the drive (you can turn on the Deep Scan feature in the lower left corner to show more scan results).
  8. Browse the found files and folders carefully and select all the ones you want to recover.
  9. Click on the Recover button in the lower right corner.
  10. Please select a destination to store the recovered files by clicking Browse.
  11. Click on the Save button to confirm your selection.
  12. Wait for the recovery process to finish.

How To Locate An External Hard Drive On Mac Free

Tip: If the documents created by Microsoft Word (contained in Microsoft Office for Mac) are lost from Mac, how to recover them? You should read this page to learn more about Mac Word files recovery.

Some people may want to recover crucial data from their Mac when it can’t boot successfully. What should they do? This post tells you all about how to recover from a crashed/dead MacBook (MacBook Pro).

#6. Repair External Drive by Using Terminal

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Select Applications and then Utilities.
  3. Double click on Terminal to open it.
  4. Type diskutil list into the command line and press Return.
  5. The basic information of volumes and drives available will be displayed.
  6. Look for the disk# section of the target external disk.
  7. Type diskutil mountDisk /dev/disk# and press Return.
  8. Type diskutil repairVolume /dev/disk# and press Return.
  9. Wait for the process to finish.
  10. Go to the Terminal and then Quit Terminal.

#7. Check Disk Format

If you can find your external hard drive under Disk Utility, but you can’t mount and use it, it’s possible that the disk format is the issue. Your Mac can’t recognize a drive that’s been formatted with a file system that it cannot read.

In this case, you need to reformat the drive (please backup at least the important files on target drive since the erase action will ruin them):

  1. Open Disk Utility.
  2. Select the target external disk from the left panel.
  3. Click Erase at the top.
  4. You can give a name to the disk.
  5. Choose a proper file system from the drop-down menu of Format.
  6. Choose a Scheme and then click on the Erase button to confirm.
  7. Wait for the operation to finish.

APFS and Mac OS Extended are used frequently on Mac; you should figure out the differences between them (read APFS vs Mac OS Extended) before you decide which one to use.

Can you read a Mac-formatted hard drive on a Windows PC?

Usually, you can’t read Mac drive on a Windows PC; this post shows you how to view content on Mac-formatted drive easily.

#8. Reset NVRAM

If there’s problem with the Mac’s RAM, it may cause external hard drive not showing up. You can troubleshoot the problem by resetting NVRAM properly.

  1. Restart your Mac (shut down and turn it on again).
  2. Press these 4 keys simultaneously: Command+Option+P+R; hold them for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Release these keys when you hear the second startup chime

#9. Check the /Volumes/ Folder

When you can’t find an external hard disk on Mac, you can also try your luck by checking the /Volumes/ folder.

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Select Go from the top menu bar.
  3. Choose Go to Folder from the drop-down menu.
  4. Type /Volume/ into the textbox.
  5. Click on the Go button below or press Enter.
  6. Look for your external hard drive under Volumes folder.

How to recover a Mac file deleted from a folder or the desktop?

Believe it or not, we can make it easy to recover deleted data on Mac even if you are totally a novice.

#10. Uninstall Conflicting Apps

The applications you have installed on you Mac may have conflict with the external hard drive so that it can’t be detected. How to troubleshoot Mac not detecting external hard drive?

  • If you have installed new apps on Mac recently, please go to uninstall them completely.
  • If you haven’t installed any new app, please go to browse your installed apps and delete the ones with potential conflict.

#11. Update macOS

How To Locate An External Hard Drive On Mac

Updating OS is another useful fix for hard drive not showing up Mac.

  1. Select Apple menu.
  2. Choose SystemPreferences.
  3. Click Software Update.
  4. Wait for the checking process.
  5. Click Update Now when available updates are found.
  6. Wait for the update to complete.

If your external disk runs very slow after you updated the macOS, please try to troubleshoot the issue by resetting the SMC (System Management Controller).

Bonus Tip: Internal Hard Drive Not Showing Up

If your internal hard drive doesn’t show up on Mac suddenly, please try to fix it by the following solutions:

  • Change Finder Preferences settings.
  • Mount/repair the hard drive in Disk Utility.
  • Repair disk in macOS recovery mode.
  • Check the internal hard drive in Terminal.

For more information about USB not showing up on Mac or flash drive/SD card not showing up Mac, please read this page.


There are many actions and issues that could lead to the problem – external hard drive not showing up Mac. You should read this page carefully to find out the possible reasons and master the corresponding solutions that may help you fix the problem yourself.

Normally when you plug in an external hard drive to your Mac's USB port you will see it appear on the desktop (aka mount on the desktop). You can also see it in the Finder in the left column under Locations (or Devices on older versions of macOS). If the drive is not showing up on your Mac chances are it has not been formatted correctly, has been corrupted, or is faulty.

We show you how to work out whether the reason the external drive is not mounting on your Mac up is due to a problem with the drive itself, the cable or the port, and how to resolve the problem and access data on your drive.

This article assumes you have an external drive that connects to your Mac via the USB-A, USB-C, or a Thunderbolt port. If you have a NAS drive that connects over the network then you should read this article about connecting to a NAS drive.

How to fix a drive that won't show up on a Mac

There are a number of reasons why your hard drive, flash drive, USB drive, or SSD might not be showing up. It may have been formatted incorrectly, it may be corrupted, it may have a faulty (or inadequate) cable, or there could be something else.

If you run though the following steps you should hopefully be able to identify the cause and fix the problem that is stopping your external drive from opening on your Mac.

1: Edit your preferences

Hopefully there is a really easy fix to get the hard drive to mount on your desktop. Try the following to make sure your Mac is set to show mounted drives on the desktop.

  1. Open the Finder.
  2. Click on Finder in the menu at the top of your screen.
  3. Choose Preferences > General and make sure that there is a tick beside External Drives.

If it was already set up so that the external drive would appear on the desktop then continue to follow the steps below.

2: Check the cable

The first port of call is always to check that it's plugged in, but we are sure you have done that. The problem might be with the cable though.

One of the main reasons why drives fail to mount is if the drive isn’t receiving enough power. If the drive is powered via a USB-A cable you need to check that adequate power is being delivered to the drive. Very old Macs may require a USB power cable, a cable that splits into two USB connectors that need to both be plugged into your Mac, in order to deliver enough power to the drive. Similarly, make sure that the drive doesn't have an external power supply it should be using.

On the subject of cables, make sure that it’s not at fault. Try using a different cable with the drive to see if that fixes the problem. Similarly, if you are using a USB port via a hub check that’s not what’s causing the problem.

Also check that the port on your Mac isn’t the problem. Try plugging into a different port. Or if you only have the one, plug another device in and see if that works ok.

3: Try another Mac and then try a PC

The next step is to try plugging the drive into another Mac. If it also fails to mount there you will know that there is a problem with the drive while if it does mount then the problem is with your Mac.

The next step is to try plugging the drive into a PC. If the drive mounts on the PC it's likely that you have discovered what the problem is: the drive is formatted for PCs and can’t be read by your Mac.

4: Use Disk Utility to access the drive

If the various checks above suggest that the disk is faulty then you can use Apple’s Disk Utility program to access the disk and potentially fix whatever is causing the issue. Here's what to do:

  1. Find Disk Utility by opening Spotlight (cmd+Space-bar) and start typing Disk Utility, press enter to open the program.
  2. Look in the column on the left to see if the hard drive appears there.
  3. If you can see the hard drive in Disk Utility check underneath it for a volume. If it is there click on it and select Mount. If your Mac has already mounted the drive the option Unmount will be displayed instead. (If there is no volume listed your Mac is not able to access the drive. The Mount option will be greyed out.)
  4. Your options are First Aid, Erase and Restore. First Aid will check the disk for errors and then repair the disk if necessary and this is the option to choose. (Restore allows you to erase the contents of the drive and replace that with data from somewhere else. Erase deletes all the data stored on the drive. If you need the data on the drive do not choose Erase or Restore!)
  5. Click the First Aid tab and select Run.
  6. If after running First Aid the Mac finds errors you could fix you may see the option to Repair Disk. If you do, go ahead and run the repairs.

5: Change the drive format

If your Mac is unable to repair the disk if is likely that the drive is either formatted using a file system that the Mac cannot read, or it is well and truly broken - if it’s the latter we suggest you follow this tutorial about recovering data from a damaged disk.

Hopefully though the drive is fine but the format is wrong. Here's a bit of background on file formats:

  • Windows PCs use NTFS file format.
  • Mac computers, prior to Sierra, used the HFS+ file format.
  • In High Sierra Apple introduced a new file system called Apple File System (APFS).
  • exFAT or the older FAT32 are formats that can be read by Window and Mac computers.

Best Portable Hard Drives For Mac

To make sure your drive can be read by Macs and PCs you need to format it using exFAT or the older FAT32. We'll explain how to do that below.

It is possible that the hard drive has been formatted using a different file system (i.e. on a Windows PC). In that case, if you need to access the data on the drive you'll need to connect your drive to a Windows PC that does recognise it and copy the data before moving on to the next step.

Having got the data of the drive via a PC you can reformat the drive so that you can add the data again. Here's how to reformat your drive so it can be read by and Mac or a PC.

  1. Open Disk Utility (as per the steps above).
  2. If you don’t require the data on the hard drive, select the disk and click Erase.
  3. Before Disk Utility starts to erase the disk it will pick a format for you. You can change this if you click on the Formatting options. Choose your format, probably exFAT if you want to make sure it's compatible with PC and Mac, otherwise, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is probably the best option.
  4. Give the drive a name.
  5. Click on Erase and wait for your Mac to erase and then reformat the drive.
  6. You could try running First Aid. Click the First Aid tab and select Run. If after running First Aid the Mac finds errors you could fix you may see the option to Repair Disk.

6: Try a data recovery app

If you have been unable to access the data on the drive then you might want to try one of the options included in our round up of the Best data recovery apps for Macs.

7: Always disconnect your drive properly

We have final suggestion to make that is more of a guard against this error happening again.

Make sure that your external drive doesn’t become damaged in the future by always unmounting the disk properly after using it. Don’t just unplug the USB cable. To unmount your drive you can right-click (control-click) on the icon on the Desktop or in the Finder and choose Eject. Apparently most drive issues are caused when the disk is removed without ejecting it properly.

How To Locate An External Hard Drive On Pc

Decided there is no hope for your faulty hard drive, we have a round up of some of the best we've seen here: The best Mac hard drives.