Full Guide on How to Use a Flash Drive on Mac

It's difficult to think of anything more practical for transferring tiny to medium files than a USB flash drive. EaseUS Data Recovery for Mac is one the finest tool for recovering data from external flash drives used with a Mac.

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Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
1. Find Flash Drives on Mac Insert the USB flash drive, its icon will appear...Full steps
2. Mount Flash Drives on Mac Insert the USB flash drive, launch the Finder...Full steps
3. Erase Flash Drives on Mac Insert the USB flash drive, click on Applications...Full steps
4. Format Flash Drives on Mac Insert the USB flash drive, open disk utility...Full steps
5. Recover Flash Drives Data Download EaseUS Data Recovery for Mac...Full steps

For transferring small to medium files, it's hard to imagine anything more convenient than a USB flash drive. They are mostly small in size come in a variety of shapes, colors, and cases. And, they work with both PC and Macs featuring a USB port.

A USB flash drive is known by many nicknames, including a memory stick, thumb drive, or pen drive. It is mainly a portable storage device, and it is the most widely used and the most recognized tech gadget around. Data can be transferred efficiently and simply from these compact devices to your laptop or desktop computer and vice versa.

Global computer hardware consumers are distributed into two main categories: PC users and Mac users. In this guide, we will be focusing on using a USB flash drive with a Mac computer.

macOS Recovery

How to Find Flash Drives on Mac

Mostly, USB flash drives get auto-detected and start working when plugged into the USB port of a Mac. Another type of portable storage device is the SD memory card which is also widely used. Older models of the MacBook came with memory card slots for reading SD cards and transferring data between the card and computer.

USB Flash drives can be plugged into the USB port of your mac laptop directly. For the MacBook models which do not have a memory card slot, you can attach a USB Type-C adapter to your MacBook to read a memory card.

If in some cases, the flash drive is not auto-detected, the finder app on the MacBook can be used to configure and display the externally attached storage devices.

Step 1. Insert the USB flash drive into the USB port of your Mac.

Step 2. The flash drive will be auto-detected, and its icon will appear on the desktop.

icon will appear on the desktop

Step 3. If that is not the case, then open the Finder app. Now you can select the USB flash drive which you plugged in.

select the usb flash drive

How to Mount Flash Drives on Mac

In some cases, a USB flash drive will not get detected automatically by the macOS, and the device will not mount. This usually happens if the flash drive is not compatible with macOS or there is an error in the flash drive itself, i.e., it is corrupted.

Signs that you have a corrupt USB flash drive include:

  • The macOS does not recognize the device.
  • It does not appear in the Finder app.
  • The drive appears in Finder, but its contents are not accessible.
  • The drive appears grayed-out in Disk Utility.
  • You encounter macOS error messages when you try to use the flash drive.

Common reasons for USB flash drive corruption include:

  • Unplugging flash drive without disconnecting/unmounting it.
  • Unexpected or sudden power loss to flash drive.
  • Device driver issues or wrong drivers installed.
  • Wearing of memory module inside the device due to prolonged use.
  • Software or OS crashes.

The most common method for overcoming the flash drive mounting problem is to restart the system and then reconnect the device to the system. If a restart does not mount your flash drive, then Disk Utility can be useful in resolving the issue.

Step 1. Insert the USB flash drive into the USB port of your Mac.

Step 2. Launch the Finder app.

select the usb flash drive

Step 3. Select the Applications option from the sidebar.

select the applications option

Step 4. All available applications will be displayed on the right side of the Finder. Double click on the Utilities folder.

double click on the utilities folder

Step 5. Next double click on Disk Utility to launch the app, which we will use to mount the flash drive.

double click on disk utility

Step 6. Your flash drive should be displayed in the left sidebar of Disk Utility. Click on the name of your USB flash drive to access it.

click on the name of your usb

Step 7. If the USB flash drive does not appear in the Disk Utility app, then click on the File menu and then click on Refresh Information.

click on the file menu

How to Erase Flash Drives on Mac

Due to regular usage of the USB flash drive, at some point, you will run out of space on the drive to store new data. You can always delete unwanted files to make space for newer files. If you have a backup of all the files on the flash drive and need to erase all the numerous files in one go, then Disk Utility can make this process a breeze for you. Perform the following steps:

Step 1. Insert the USB flash drive into the USB port of your Mac.

Step 2. In the Finder app, click on Applications, double click Utilities, and then Disk Utility app.

doubleclick utilities and disk utility app

Step 3. Select your flash drive from the list on the left side of Disk Utility

select your flash drive

Step 4. Click on the Erase option displayed on top

click on the erase option

Step 5. A new dialog box appears asking for confirmation. Click the Erase button.


Before clicking on the Erase button, you have the option to specify a new name for your flash drive and select different OS file systems from a list.

How to Format Flash Drives on Mac

You may need to format a USB flash drive to make it compatible with a new file system. Formatting a flash drive completely removes all data from it and prepares it for fresh use. You can choose from various file systems to format the drive. This makes the drive compatible for use with a Mac or for use with both macOS and Windows. The following steps will help you format a flash drive:

Step 1. Insert the USB flash drive into the USB port of your Mac.

Step 2. Open Disk Utility from Applications.

open disk utility from applications

Step 3. Select your USB flash drive from the Left Sidebar under External.

select your usb flash drive

Step 4. Choose the Erase option from the tabs displayed on top.

choose the erase option

Step 5. Specify a new 'Name' for your flash drive.

specify a new name

Step 6. From the 'Format' menu, select a file system according to your requirements.

select a file system according to your equirements

Step 7. From the 'Scheme' menu, select a partition scheme.

select a patition scheme

Step 8. Click on the 'Erase' button to format the flash drive.

format the flash drive

What Can First Aid Do for Flash Drives

The First Aid function helps you to determine the status of the Mac disk, volumes, and any attached external devices. It offers many built-in capabilities that detect and repair errors found on Mac disks. First Aid can scan the drives you specify and will inform you if the detected damage can be repaired or not.

Step 1. Insert the USB flash drive into the USB port of your Mac.

Step 2. Open the Disk Utility app and choose View > Show All Devices.

choose view and show all devices

Step 3. Now select the USB flash drive. It will be displayed on the Left Sidebar.

select the usb flash drive

Step 4. Choose the First Aid option from the tabs displayed on top.

choose the first aid option

Step 5. Click the 'Run' button in the First Aid dialog box.

click the run button

Step 6. Click the 'Done' button when First Aid has finished scanning.

click the done button

Extra Tip: How to Recover Flash Drive Data

In most cases, permanently deleted files can be recovered using special USB data recovery software for Macs. Such software analyzes drives for recoverable data and informs you accordingly. They have the ability to recover various different file formats.

One of the leading recovery software for Mac includes the EaseUS Data Recovery for Mac. It is a third-party data recovery software for Mac and one of the finest tools available today.

The innovative features set includes:

  • Recovery of over 1000 file formats.
  • Supported file systems include FAT12/16/32, ex-FAT, NTFS, NTFS-5, ext2/3, HFS+, and ReFS.
  • Filters option to customize the file scan.
  • File preview for easy file selection.
  • The free trial version lets you recover up to 2GB of data.
  • Monthly, Yearly, and Lifetime subscriptions.

Step 1. Connect your USB drive to your Mac

Correctly connect your USB flash drive to your Mac. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac. Start selecting the flash drive and click "Search for lost files" to let the software scan for lost files on it.

Note: Before data recovery, you'd better click "Disk Backup" from the left sidebar to create a backup of your USB drive to avoid further data loss. After backing up the USB drive, the software can recover data from your USB drive backup, and you can remove the USB flash drive and use it again.

select your USB drive and search for lost files

Step 2. Find lost data on the USB drive

After the scan, all files will be presented in the left panel in the scan results.

Find lost data on USB using the filter function

Step 3. Recover data from flash drive

Select the files you want to recover and click the "Recover" button. Don't save the recoverable files to the USB drive itself in case of data overwriting.

recover flash drive data


USB flash drives provide incomparable convenience for the transfer of tiny, small, and medium-sized files. They're compatible with both PCs and Macs that have a USB port.

EaseUS Data Recovery for Mac is one the finest tool for recovering data from a Mac disk or an external flash drive used with a Mac. It offers ultra-fast and reliable data recovery. Its easy interface and innovative features, combined with its powerful data recovery abilities, place it in the top 5 data recovery apps currently available.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

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Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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