External Hard drive not showing up on Mac? Top 10 Working fixes

Is your External hard drive not showing up or not being recognized in Finder Sidebar or Desktop on Mac, bad luck. There are specific reasons behind the issue; Incompatible Hard Disk Format, Corrupted USB Ports or Cable, Hard Drive Not Mounted, Finder Settings, etc.

At this point, it’s fair to say you aren’t familiar with what is the cause and how to fix the hard Disk not detected; this is quite troublesome. So, here in this article, we will let you know how to fix the Mac external hard drive not detected issue. 

External Drive Not Showing Up in Finder Sidebar Or Desktop on Mac

Hard Disks are a traditional way to transfer and store data between peripherals. But when it comes to situations like “Seagate or WD external hard drive not showing up on Mac,” or “files not showing up on external hard drive mac” put work on hold. As tech-savy we have got the line-up of best solutions to fix it.

How To Connect External Drive To A Mac

Before we start fixing external hard Disk not detected errors, let’s verify that you have followed all the setup steps accurately. We are using revamped macOS in the article, but don’t panic! Configuration steps are similar. 

Connect the storage device using the supported USB Cable. That’s It! The Hard Disk will appear on both the Desktop and Finder only if allowed from the Finder, Settings…(Preferences…) 

Edit Your Finder Settings…(Preferences…)

First and foremost, check the hard drive settings on your Mac computer. If it’s wrongly configured or the hard drive disallows to be visible in Finder SideBar or on Desktop, it’s worth verifying. 

  1. Open the Finder.
  2. Choose Finder from Menubar and then select Settings…(Preferences… on macOS Monterey And Earlier).


  1. Select General and verify the box next to the Hard Disk and External Disk is checked.


  1. Similarly, go to the Sidebar and verify the box next to the External Hard Disk and External Disk is selected.


Restart Your Mac And Reconnect The External Drive Slowly And Deliberately

The external Drive like Seagate, Wd, Lacy, Toshiba, Buffalo, Maxine, Maxtor, Transcend, and Verbatim are connected to the Mac computer using USB cables. 

But if there is a loose connection or the connection fails, External Drive not showing up in the Finder sidebar or Desktop on Mac takes place. So first, Restart Mac; then gently clean the port and insert the hard Disk again.

Check Apple Disk Utility

Hard Disk Not Detected Mac can be due to the Hard Drive not being mounted yet. And luckily, you can mount using the Disk Utility. First, open the Disk Utility using the spotlight search(Command + Space). Then, click on the Hard Drive from the Disk Utility Sidebar and choose Mount at the Window’s top right corner.  


Change USB Port

The damaged or corrupted USB port on the Mac computer can be the reason why is external hard Disk not detected in macOS Ventura. If your Mac computer has an unused or extra port, try inserting it.

Ensure Your Cable Has Sufficient Power

Hard Disk not detected; check the power supply required for your connected Hard Disk. As of now, some Hard Disks require more power supply; perhaps some require less. 

If it is more than 500 mA, usually offered by USB 1.0 and 2.0, it can eventually cause a hard disk not to connect at all or to connect slower.

In these situations, either you go with a HUB that allows you to create multiple connections at once or purchase a USB Cable that offers an efficient power supply to the Hard Disk.

If you are working on any MacBook (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro), ensure high battery life. A low battery can lead to the external hard drive not showing up due to insufficient power supply.

Secondly, USB Cable or USB-Hub are working if your MacBook device uses Thunderbolt 3.

Tip: Always use USB Cables to connect the Hard Drive to Mac, as it offers an efficient and sturdy connection between peripherals. 

Try Other Devices for Power Supply

Even after changing the USB Cable to get an efficient power supply, still, hard Disk is not detected on Mac Laptop; its signal shows hardware-related issues within the Mac. 

To get the reality check, insert the same Storage device in alternate Windows or Mac. If it gets only detected on a PC, the Hard Disk is designed to be equipped with macOS. 

 Use Terminal

The hard drive light on but not detected Mac. in such case, A terminal on Mac is one of the bays to go with when fixing any error. Not to worry, as it seems too harsh to compile, but it’s almost effortless when you perform every step adequately. 

  1. Press Command + Space, search for Terminal, and open it.
  2. Now in the Terminal, enter the command sudo diskutil list, enter the password, and press Return. This will let you analyze the Hard Drive connected to your Disk.
  3. From the list, search for the /dev/disk_ (external, physical)_ – here, the underscore means the digit assign to your external physical drive. 
  4. Now rewrite another command sudo diskutil info disk_– here, enter the digit mentioned for the external physical drive.
  5. If the mac computer recognizes the drive- this action will reveal detailed information about the Hard Disk. to eject, type sudo diskutil eject disk_, with a digit mentioned for external physical drive. 
  6. Next, type diskutil Command in the Terminal; if the Disk vanishes out, you can detach the USB. 

While running the Command in the Terminal, if you encounter an “Operation Not Permitted” error, this is a software security feature introduced by Apple itself in the latest macOS. 

To fix the error, follow the given below steps.

  1. Exit the Terminal, navigate to System Settings…(System Preferences… for macOS Monterey and Earlier) 
  2. Select Privacy And Security (Security & Privacy on macOS Monterey And Earlier) > Privacy > Full Disk Utility


  1. Add the application by clicking on the + Icon and enter Administrator Name And Password.


  1. Once you have done so, under the Applications, go to Utilities > Terminal > Open. You will receive a pop-up Terminal Will Not Have Full Disk Access Once You Quit It; click Quit And Re-open.


5. After the completion, select the padlock to disallow the access once again.

Engage Disk Utility

Unlike the Terminal, disk utility is evergreen troubleshooting steps when it comes to various issues, especially problem-related Hard Disks, such as HDD not detected. Here is what you need to do.

  1. Open the Finder and following select Applications.
  2. From the Applications, go to Utilities and then choose Disk Utility.

Note: If you can’t find the Disk utility folder, search it from the search bar in the Applications. 

  1. On the next screen, you will see the Storage Disk name in the left Sidebar of Disk Utility. in case of External hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility Mac, go with the next solution.


  1. Right-clicking on it, if you didn’t see the Unmounted option in the dropdown of a storage disk, means your Mac wouldn’t have access the Hard Disk. 


Change the Format of your HD

As of now and forever, the Mac only supports some Format; there might be chances you are configuring NFTS, FAT32, and exFAT, a format supportable for Windows. However, with a Mac computer, you can change the format external hard drive mac. Here is how you can do so.

Note: Before compiling this task, we suggest creating a backup of data stored on the Hard Disk.

  1. Firstly, ensure you have connected the Hard Disk accurately in the port of Mac.
  2.  Navigate to Finder on the Dock and open it.
  3. From the Finder, choose Applications, and next select Utilities.
  4. In the Utilities menu, search for Disk Utility(Command + Space, from spotlight search for Disk Utility) and open it.
  5. Click on the Hard Disk name in the left Sidebar of Disk Utility. Select Erase from the menu.


  1. Right after this, you will receive a pop-up saying, “Erasing ‘Untitled’ Will Permanently Erase All The Data Stored In It” You Can’t Undo This Action” from there, select the Format Dropdown and choose ExFat, select Erase. Let the process finish, choose Done


For Windows Users,

  1. Connect the Drive to Windows PC.
  2. Open the Hard Disk from My PC.
  3. Next, copy the content and save it in the new folder.
  4. Now hover the mouse on the drive and right-click on it.
  5. From the dropdown menu, select Format -always recommend selecting exFat.


  1. Next, give the name to the Hard Drive from the volume window.
  2. Choose Start to begin the procedure. You will receive the Warning pop-up, choose OK.


Wait until the procedure finishes, reconnect the same Hard Disk to the Mac, and see if the hard Disk is not showing. 

Run First AID

However, we haven’t talked about this but the most prominent reason for drive is not accessible is a system issue. But eventually, you can fix HDD on your own using the First AID on Mac.

What does the First AID on Mac do? The First AID is the dedicated feature adequately designed to determine the range of error within the startup disk and Hard Disk and accordingly repair it. That’s why external SSD for MacBook air is not showing; it’s worth prioritizing the First AID.

  1. Press the Command + SpaceBar to open spotlight.
  2. In the spotlight, search for Disk Utility and click on it to open.
  3. Choose the Hard Disk from the left Sidebar and next choose First AID.


  1. Next, you will receive a pop-up saying Run First AID on “Untitled” First AID Will Check The Volume For Error. It Will Then Repair The Volume If Necessary”. Choose Run.


When the procedure gets finished, choose Done.

Temporarily Remove com.apple. Finder.plist And Test

Another quick solution to fix the hard Disk on the Mac is temporarily removing the com.apple. Finder.plist from the preference. 

  1. Open the Finder, and next, choose Go.
  2. From the Go dropdown, select Go To Folder…
  3. Enter the path /Library/Preferences. Now search and drag the com.apple.finder.plist folder to the Trash on Dock.


After the completion of the procedure, restart the Mac computer. Firmly reconnect the hard drive in the USB port of the Mac. Still, wd hard Disk not detected; move to and open the Trash from Dock. Search and right-click on the com.apple.finder.plist folder. From the contextual dropdown, select Put Back. 

Start In Safe Mode

Chances are some corrupted programs are causing the hard Disk not showing. Those programs can be the antivirus, Encryption Program, etc you have installed on the Mac computer. In this scenario, boot up the Mac computer to Safe Mode. Which only allows the pre-installed software to run. 

After entering Safe Mode, reconnect the hard Disk and next check for the external hard Disk not detected issue. If the case gets fixed, delete the malicious program from Mac. If not, head to the following troubleshooting. 

Reset PRAM And SMC

If the sign points at your Mac computer for an external drive not showing up in the Finder sidebar or Desktop, try resetting PRAM and SMC. If the issue directly correlates to a USB device or any other reason, Follow Our Guide Reset Pram And Smc On Mac

Update macOS

Unknowingly, the outdated software on Mac can hinder all the features. Therefore, updates are often released to fix bugs and increase stability. Simultaneously, it ensures the local files stored in the Mac computer never get corrupted. 

So whenever the Updates are released, instantly Download and install on your Mac to prevent such miscellaneous activity.

Bottom Line

External hard drive light on but not showing up mac is common issue to fix as we have as we introuduced you with best and possible solutions to fix it.

Can I Track My Lost External Hard Drive?

The answer is no because the external Hard Drive is not equipped with services related to features like Bluetooth and internet. 

How Do I Stop My External Hard Drive From Disconnecting On Mac?

Firstly, ensure that you have used the best Quality USB Cable, and then after, what matters is the positioning of the Hard Disk. Be sure to keep the Hard Disk on the hard table to prevent random disconnecting due to a loose connection. 

Do Multiple Hard Drives Slow Down The Computer?

Eventually, it affects the performance, as connecting multiple hard disks at a time will increase power consumption in case you need a proficient power supply. Similarly, copying big-size files from the hard drive can Slow Down Mac.

My Disk Utility Says ‘Corrupt Disk,’ What Does That Mean?

The “Corrupt Disk” error occurs due to an incompatible hard disk format. But do not worry, as you can now change the Format for Hard Disk on Mac. Here are the steps you need to follow. 

Note: Before performing this step, remember to save all the data from Hard Disk to an alternate Storage disk or copy and paste it into a separate folder on a Mac.

Change format of hard drive: Press Command + Space. From the spotlight, search Disk Utility. Next, select the connected hard drive from the left Sidebar. Then select Erase from the top menu. 

Now you will receive a pop-up saying, “Erasing ‘Untitled’ Will Permanently Erase All The Data Stored In It” You Can’t Undo This Action” from there, select the Format Dropdown and choose exFAT. Click Erase. Let the procedure finish, and choose Done. 

Why Is My External Hard Drive Not Readable On Mac?

There are multiple reasons, but the most common one is the unsupported Format of Hard Drive on a Mac. To fix it, go through our guide.

How Do You Connect An External Hard Drive To A Mac?

The most identical way is using a Trusted USB Cable. Plus, you can also use the Best USB Hubs, as it conveniently connects multiple accessories to Mac at a time. 

How Do I Revive A Dead Hard Drive?

Reviving a dead hard drive is a challenging task to accomplish. But considering Hard Drive as dead before taking it to the technician can be wrong. First, try connecting Hard drive to the different USB ports, and subsequently, use the other USB Cables. Still, the issue persists; take it to the technician, and don’t try to fix it yourself.

How Do I Back Up My Hard Drive?

The Time Machine is always an admirable feature of Mac computers. It’s a pre-installed backup tool on all Macs. First of all, connect the Hard Drive. Then follow the given below steps.

macOS Ventura And Earlier: Go to System Setting… > General > Time Machine. Click on Add Backup List… Button. Select Hard Drive > Set Up Disk. 

macOS Monterey And Later: Go to System Preferences… > Time Machine > Select Backup List. From the next Window, choose Hard Drive. 

Why Does My Mac Shut Down When I Connect A Hard Drive?

There is no such conviction behind Mac getting shut down when connected to Hard Drive. Instead, it might be a low supply to the hard disk, consuming more power from the Mac, or some miscellaneous data causing the issue. 

To prevent it, you can take System Management into action. Here is how you can do so. 

For Battery Removable Mac: Turn Off the Mac, and detach it from all the power sources, including Battery. Hold the Power Key for a few Seconds. Then, reconnect the Mac with all the power sources again, and switch it ON. 

For Battery Unremovable Mac: Switch Off the Mac, and disconnect from the Power Source. Press Shift + Control + Option + Power Key for a couple of seconds. Let out the buttons; connect the Mac to the power source and switch it ON. 

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Karly Wood

Karly Wood, a Wellington-based journalist, excels in covering Apple and tech trends. With a diverse background in public safety, government, and education reporting, her insights bridge multiple disciplines, offering readers a well-rounded perspective on today's technological advancements. Contact Her Team:- jaysukh.pharma@gmail.com [OR] admin@howtoisolve.com

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