How to Find an External Drive That Is Not Showing Up on Mac?

by Olivia Morelli - -
12

Question

Issue: How to Find an External Drive That Is Not Showing Up on Mac?

Hi! I can't find external drive on Mac even though it used to appear on my desktop when plugged in. I don't know what happened and hope you can help me. Thanks

Solved Answer

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External drives are perfect tools to store information and protect from various cyber threats. There are many options you can choose between, such as hard drive, USB flash drive and many others[1]. Usually, when you plug the external device into your Mac, it appears as an icon on the desktop or can be found on the sidebar in Finder. 

However, sometimes you can't find external drive on Mac, and there are several reasons for that:

  • The drive is not receiving enough power to connect;
  • Settings are set not to show the external devices on the desktop;
  • The external drive uses the format which is not recognized by Mac.

If you want to find an external drive which is not showing up, you should note that in most cases, people tend not to plug the drive properly which leads to the connection failure. Likewise, start by checking whether your device is mounted correctly, has enough power to operate and does have an external power supply (If it requires one).

Additionally, it is essential to make sure that the problem is with the external device itself and not the USB ports or cables. You should try to plug the same drive to another Mac and see if it works. Also, use new or different wires to check if they are not damaged. 

Finally, If you still can't find external drive on Mac, it indicates that either your device is broken or it is formatted using the system which is unreadable for Mac. Therefore, you can learn how to fix external drive on Mac using the instructions below. 

Fix external drive that is not showing up on Mac

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There are numerous file formats which are designed for different operating systems. While Mac computers use Apple File System (APFS), Windows employ NTFS file format[2]. Note that operating systems older that Sierra used HFS+ file format. Sadly, but as Mac cannot read the format, Windows is using and vice versa. 

Likewise, the external device should be formatted using either exFat or FAT32 to be readable for both, Windows and Mac[3]. We want to warn you that if it appears that the device is wrongly formatted, the operation requires erasing data stored in it. Therefore, you should make sure that you have a copy of your important data before proceeding to the instructions.

Method 1. Alter Finder Preferences to show the icon of external device

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The free scanner will identify main causes of your problem in its scan report. To eliminate them, you have to activate the licensed version of Reimage repair software by purchasing it. To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage Reimage.
  1. Click on the Finder icon;
  2. Navigate to the top-left corner of your screen and click on Finder;
  3. Select Preferences.
    Check finder preferences
  4. Check the external disks mark which allows to display its icon on desktop.

Method 2. Use First Aid to check the disk for errors

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The free scanner will identify main causes of your problem in its scan report. To eliminate them, you have to activate the licensed version of Reimage repair software by purchasing it. To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage Reimage.
  1. Open Disk Utility program.
    Try to repair errors on the drive
  2. Click on First Aid tab and select Run button;
  3. If there are any errors found, choose Repair Disk option.

Note: If your Mac is unable to fix the disk, it might be broken or formatted using the wrong file system. Likewise, head to the guide below.

Method 3. Reformat the external drive

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The free scanner will identify main causes of your problem in its scan report. To eliminate them, you have to activate the licensed version of Reimage repair software by purchasing it. To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Reimage Reimage.
  1. Make sure to make copies of the data stored on the device.
    reformat the drive to Mac file formatting system
  2. Click on Erase button;
  3. Select the Mac file formatting system.

If none of these methods have helped you to fix external device, it is probably broken. You should always eject it properly since most of the problems occur due to reason that people rush and recklessly remove it. 

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How to open external drive which is not showing up on Mac

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - PC & Mac repair expert

Olivia Morelli is a young, but a perspicacious IT expert who is currently just a year away from a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Systems. Her primary passion is cyber security, however, thanks to her detailed understanding of computer networks, operating systems and hardware, she can find a fix for any PC or Mac issue.

Contact Olivia Morelli
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