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How to Troubleshoot External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac | Technical Tips

  • Sep 27, 2020
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External hard drive can be a great supply if you don’t have enough space on Mac. However, it can also be bothersome if you can’t see external HD on Mac. This post will show you how to deal with this situation and hope it can help you to some extent.

How to Troubleshoot External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

External hard drive can be a great supply if you don’t have enough space on Mac. However, it can also be bothersome if you can’t see external HD on Mac. This post will show you how to deal with this situation and hope it can help you to some extent.

Solutions to make external hard drive show on Mac

Check the connection

It’s always a good idea to check the connection between your external HD and the Mac. Plus, desktop hard disks usually require external charges. Therefore, before diving into something deeper, here’s what you can do:

  • For Desktop external hard drives, let’s say, Seagate Backup plus and WD Elements Desktop, make sure the external hard drive is externally connected to a power socket.
  • For portable USB external hard drives, make sure the USB port is not wobbly, dusty, or loose. You can try another USB port if the USB port doesn't work due to physical damage. Also, make sure the connection is tight.

Boot the Mac into Safe mode

It’s possible that some incompatible applications prevent your disk from loading. To confirm this, you can boot your Mac into Safe mode for check. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Restart your Mac (some Mac computers play a startup chime).

Step 2: Immediately press and hold the Shift key, then release the Shift key when you see the loading bar.

Step 3: After rebooting the Mac, reconnect your external hard drive to the Mac and see if it is recognized. If the external hard drive is recognized by macOS in Safe mode, that means some suspicious programs stop your external HD from working.

To find out which program is responsible for the trouble, you can boot into Verbose Mode, and then uninstall the troublemaker.

Check the computer setting

If you have changed the computer setting by accident, chances are the Mac won’t show detected devices. To fix that, you can do the following:

  • Show the external hard drive on the desktop: Go to Finder > Preferences > General tab and tick the box in front of External disks.

  • Show external hard drives in Finder: Go to Finder > Preferences > Sidebar and make sure the External disks under Locations is ticked. Then your external hard drive will appear in Finder.

Access to the external HDD by /Volumes/ Folder

If the computer setting is modified, still, you can’t see your external HD on Mac. You can try your luck by accessing to it by /Volumes/ Folder. How to do that?

  • Step 1: Launch Finder and click Go in the top menu bar > Go to folder.
  • Step 2: Type /Volumes/ and hit Enter.
  • Step 3: You can see the folder that lists all mounted drives and disk images. If your external hard drive is listed, you are free to access the hard drive.

Mount the external HD manually

By default, the Mac will mount detected disks automatically. However, if the disk is displayed in Disk Utility but you can’t see or open it, you can mount it manually to make it work. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Launchpad> Other> Disk Utility.
  2. Expand the View option and choose Show All Devices.
  3. Find and select the external hard drive that is not showing up on your Mac.
  4. Choose Mount at the top menu bar.

Repair the corrupted file system

One possible cause for external HD not showing up on Mac is that its file system is misbehaving. You can repair the corrupted file system with Apple’s built-in program, First Aid. Here’s how:

  1. Launch Disk Utility.
  2. Choose the grayed out external hard drive from the left sidebar.
  3. Click First Aid button on the top and then choose Run to confirm this operation.

Once it’s repaired, are you able to use it normally?

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