Mac Not Recognizing External Hard Drive #6 Solutions#Data Recovery#

Follow the 6 tips for Mac not recognizing external hard drive. You may find that most of the attainable fixes are based on Disk Utility, the default application installed on Mac machine, so you can hopefully fix a not recognized external hard drive on Mac without paying money. Lost data when external hard drive not showing up or recognized on Mac? Let EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac help with data recovery.

Table of Contents

External hard drive (HDD) is one of the most essential storage equipment for a personal computer. Its capacious storage can hold massive data of all kinds, particularly large movies, photos and videos. And, because it's portable, it can be used to transfer data from one computer to another. Or, if the compatibility is not an issue, it can be used on multiple devices and different platforms!

But what to do if connecting an external hard drive to Mac but Mac not recognizing external hard drive? How do you proceed with the tasks of data copy, data transfer, data backup or any purposes that require an external USB storage drive? 

mac not recognizing external hard drive

Why External Hard Drive Not Recognized? Reasons Are...

Lots of factors can result in the frustrating situation in which you followed the same way to connect a hard drive to a Mac but it's not showing up as usual. There has to be something wrong. But you don't need to worry, some cases are not a big deal, though some are really tough cases that need some endeavor to fix it.

In general, the reasons why an external hard drive cannot be recognized are associated with the connector you use, corrupted file system, partition problems on the external hard drive like bad sectors, outdated driver or virus infection on Mac. All those are potential culprits that make your Mac fail to detect or recongnize an external hard drive.

Follow our 6 tips here for Mac not recognizing external hard drive for a rectification. You may find that most of the attainable fixes are based on Disk Utility (Solution #3-#5), the default application installed on Mac machine, so you can hopefully fix a not recognized external hard drive on Mac without paying a penny.

Essential Data Recovery Tool That Comes in Handy - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac

  • Recover lost or deleted files, documents, photos, audio, music, emails effectively
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  • Support data recovery for sudden deletion, formatting, hard drive corruption, virus attack, system crash under different situations

#1. Check the Connection

One top concern is with the connection. It's easy to idendify, whereas the most likely to cause an external hard drive not showing up. There are several directions and ways to check issues for a connection, primarily the USB port and the connection cable.

  • Make sure that the connection between a USB/eSATA cable and the USB port is tight enough, not loose.
  • Are there other USB ports available? Try to connect the drive to other USB ports. See if the problem persists.
  • Only one USB port on your Mac? If necessary, use other devices which can be connected to the USB port, see if Mac can recognize this device normally. 
  • Otherwise, can you find another Mac? Try to connect the drive to the other one. Is it showing up there? 

If all the answers to the given examples are negative, you got a connection issue, and you can just deal with the problem by changing a cable or USB port. On the contrary, if your case has been completely excluded from this cause, go on with the rest solutions behind.

#2. Tweak Settings in Preferences in Apple Finder

Only when you enable the option to show external disks in Finder settings can you see the external hard drive shortcut on your Mac screen.

Step 1: On your Mac, click the Finder icon in the dock, and then choose Finder > Preferences.

change preferences in finder step 1

Step 2: Under the General tab where you'll choose what items to show on the desktop, you should tick the option "External disks". (The option has been turned on? Skip it and follow the other methods)

change preferences in finder step 2

Close the Finder preferences window, you can see the external hard drive showing up on the Mac desktop. 

#3. Disk Utility - Mount External Hard Drive

Usually, your Mac can automatically mount any hard drives connected via one of its USB ports, to be able to read and write data on it. There are times that your external hard drive didn't mount on Mac so it fails to show itself up. Notheless, you can do your own to mount an external hard drive manually on Mac in Disk Utility, which is a hard disk management application that is built in Mac operating system by default.

If this is the case for you, when you open the Disk Utility location here you may receive some error messages implying it's the dismounting issue that causes your external hard drive not showing up normally, like Mac cannot mount the disk.

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How to Recover Data from Unmounted External Hard Drive on Mac

When an external hard drive becomes inaccessible or unrecognized on your Mac computer, check it in Disk Utility. If it shows as unmounted, you'll need to mount the external hard drive and make it recognizable.

recover data form unmounted external hard drive on mac

Step 1: To open Disk Utility, which you'll need to apply #solution 4 and #solution 5, click the Finder icon in the dock > Applications in the sidebar > double-click the Utilities folder > double-click Disk Utility to launch it.

Step 2: Check the external hard disk in the left sidebar, hightlight your hard drive and click Mount. 

mount extenal hard drive in disk utility

Mounting disk doesn't solve the problem, either? You might move on to do some repair then.

#4. Disk Utility - Check and Repair External Hard Drive Corruption

The First Aid feature in Disk Utility is to find and repair disk errors like file system corruption, bad sectors and so on.

Step 1: Stay in Disk Utility, highlight and select the very external hard drive in the left sidebar as well, this time click the First Aid button.

Step 2: First Aid will chekc the volumes for errors and it will then repair tehvoume if necessary. Once confirmed, click Run.

run first aid in disk utility

#5. Disk Utility - Erase and Format External Hard Drive to APFS/ExFAT

Formatting a disk is simple yet effective in resolving most of the hard drive issues, usually with logical errors. Volumes problems on an external hard drive that has a corrupted file system or the file system is not compatible with the current macOS would hugely cause Mac not recognizing the drive.

Warning
Despite it's a solution that is very basic, easy to operate and obtainable on Mac, we don't recommend you try it at the first place because formatting a disk will erase data in it. To get back the data, you'll only depend on a third-party Mac data recovery tool.

Step 1: In Disk Utility, this time you'll click the Erase button to format the selected external hard drive.

Step 2: The critical step here is to choose a proper file system for the external hard drive. From the Volume Format drop-down list, you should choose APFS or ExFAT which Mac can recognize and click Erase.

erase external hard drive on mac

#6. Recover Data from Not Recognizing External Hard Drive on Mac

The former five tips are tested effective in dealing with an external hard drive issue on Mac, and most of the methods are based on Mac's default disk management utility, so you can hopefully fix a not recognized external hard drive on Mac by youself without paying money. Whenever you lost data when external hard drive not showing up or recognized on Mac, you can feel free to download EaseUS Mac hard drive recovery software to perform a full data recovery.

Step 1. Correctly connect your external hard drive to your Mac.

Step 2. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac, select the external disk and click "Scan" to let the software search lost files on it.

select the flash drive where data lost and click scan

Step 3. After a quick scan and deep scan, all files will be presented in the left panel in the scan results.

scan lost data on the flash drive

Step 4. Select files you want to recover and click the "Recover Now" button. Don't save the recoverable files to the external hard drive in case of data overwriting.

click recover now button to recover lost flash drive data on your Mac

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Updated by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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