Fixed: External hard drive not showing up on Mac

A lot of Mac OS X users reported this issue in Apple support communities. That is the External hard drive showing up in Disk utility but not in Devices. This problem also happened after the OS X Yosemite update. I know it’s a frustrating one. Don’t worry about this. In this article, I will show you how to get rid of this issue. Ok, Let’s move on to the solution.

Solution 1: Change Preferences Settings 

  1. Launch Finder and choose Preferences.
  2. Then tap on the General tab and select External disks from Show these items on the desktop option.

Solution 2: Change External Drive

  1. Launch Finder and tap on Go -> Utility.
  2. Then select Disk Utility and choose the external drive from the left sidebar.
  3. Tap on Verify Disc to confirm the action.
  4. It will find and correct some minor errors.

Solution 3: Check USB Hub 

If you connecting your external hard drive with Mac using USB Hub, check the USB hub for any damage or any loose connection.

Solution 4: Check with Another drive with your MAC

  1. Open Disk Utility. If your external USB drive faded/grayed out and unmounted?
  2. Connect another external drive or Pen drive to the Mac. If still, the drive is not recognized?
  3. Do the proper Eject from the Finder window list.
  4. Then, Restart your Mac and connect the external drive.

Solution 5: Use Go to Finder

  1. From the Finder menu.
  2. And select the “Go to Finder”.
  3. Type the external drive path that appears under Disk Utility. Ex: /Volumes/sleek-disk.

Solution 6: Select the drive from the Favorite list

Drive not showing up in Finder but visible in Disk Utility?

  1. Go to the Finder window and view below the favorite list.
  2. If the drive greyed Out? Select the drive. It might visible.

Solution 7: Plug and Unplug the USB connector

  1. Shut down your Mac computer.
  2. Unplug the power cord.
  3. Next, Unplug all USB connections.
  4. Wait 30 seconds or 5 minutes then plug it back in.
  5. Then turn on your MacBook Pro or iMac.
  6. Plug the external drive only into the USB port. Open Finder and check your drive.

Solution 8: Use Maintenance freeware

Install and run Onyx (maintenance freeware) or
run and restart your Mac machine.

Solution 9: Check your Drive Format

Sometimes this issue might happen because of the unsupported drive format.
Install Microsoft NTFS for Mac by iBoysoft.
Restart your computer and check the issue.

Solution 10: Give First-Aid to your MAC

The First-Aid option helps solve the problem with the Startup issue, External drive problem, help repair corrupted files. To do that,

  1. From the Apple logo select System Preferences.
  2. In that choose Disk Utility
  3. Now select your External Hard Drive and give the First-Aid option at the top.
  4. Then tap on Run from the Pop-up.
  5. Once it finished, go to check now your Hard drive appears or not.

If the above methods not working?

  • Install fresh OSX Yosemite.
  • Connect your Seagate external drive or WD passport to a Windows computer. Delete the partition and connect back to MacBook Pro.

Find more solutions in this post.

I hope the above solution will surely help to fix the External hard drive issue. If you have any other solution or suggestion let me know through the comments section below. Thank you.

  1. My WD external hard drive keeps shutting down my MAC book pro whenever I plug it in. Any Idea why it is doing this and how to fix it? I also plugged it in to my MAC desktop and it does the same thing.

    1. Hi Amy,
      You should format the western digital external hard drive and free install the Stellar Phoenix Mac data recovery software. This data recovery software for macOS treats formatted external drive as another hard drive and recover data stored into it.

  2. It is likely causing the SMC chip to trip on your machine… the issue lies with the Hard Drive likely drawing too much power or an 'incorrect' amount of power from the USB. The machine will shutdown to protect itself when this happens. Firstly change the cable used to connect, see if it makes a difference. If not, reset the SMC chip on the machines (google how), see if this makes a difference, if not then you need to replace the hard drive.

    1. I was preparing to shell out £150 for a new external when I came across this. Now I don't have to. Sincere thanks James. I really appreciate the help and I'm sure others will too who find themselves in the same predicament.

  3. Both my WD 500gb and Toshiba 750gb drives fail to mount, and they won't even show up on Disk Utility. They show a solid light and the drive is running, but no activity. I even tried mounting them on a PC, and they will won't show up. Strange.

  4. I use Mac OS 10.8.5, and the WD NTFS drive I've been using without a glitch, was pulled and force disconnected from the Macbook. When I plugged it in again, the drive is detected but the drive seems empty although disk usage showing the correct size and usage. I tried moving it to a Windows laptop, but the system said the disk is unreadable and ask me to format the drive. I need the data, any input on this?

  5. Everything was fine until the upgrade to 10.11.6.
    Now on my desktop, my connected external Time Machine drive no longer shows the Time Machine icon (like it used to), it's just the plain yellow drive icon. And when I plug in another external drive, it no longer automatically shows on the desktop (like it used to), so I have to go use a Finder window to access it (vs. previously just clicking the icon for a finder window).
    Yes, I've done all the Preferences options, and everything listed here short of a total reinstall. (seriously? This is why I got away from Windows.)

  6. I accidentally removed the USB external drive without safely remove. Then, iMac starts not to recognize the drive. Next, the USB was plugged into PC and scanned and fixed it as recommended by Windows 10. When plugged back to iMac, the issue was resolved.

      1. I would also like to know this. 'Y Hard drive is not recognized (doesn't even show) in my mac, and on PC it shows as unrecognizable. So I don't know what to do, don't want to lose my data. Thanks!

  7. I am using Macbook Air with OS X El Capitan version. One of my external hard disc is not detected but another external hard disc can be detected. Any solutions for me? Even disk utility is unable to detect.

  8. My WD 2TB HDD suddenly ejected automatically and a message of improper eject came up. I connected the hdd again but it did not detect. It was not showing in disk utility either. I checked it in another macbook but same issue. Then I connected in windows laptop and it got detected in USB 2.0 port but was not showing up in windows explorer. I checked in disk management and tried to open it but was not opening. Right clicking was giving me only two options : delete volume and help. All other options were greyed out.
    Can anyone please help here ? I don't want to format the hdd.

    1. Hi, wanted to share my other solution. I also experienced this problem, not reading external HDD in MAC but working in Windows computer, It also work when you open your External HDD in MAC but no file can be found.
      Insert your external HDD in Windows computer.
      Go to Exernal HDD drive > right click > properties > Tools
      On Tools tab click CHECK in Error Checking.
      Wait till it finish checking, after that remove external and try using it in MAC.
      It work for me many times. Hope it helps others too.

  9. I have never used my wd my passport ultra before and it will not show up on my mac. When I plug it in, the light on the hard drive comes on, but nothing shows up on my computer. The hard drive is not visible in the disk utility either.
    I tried it in my friends windows computer and it did not show up under devices either.

  10. My WD Hard Drive has always worked fine. I haven't used it in a few months, but now when I plug it in, it doesn't show up anywhere. The drive makes some noises, and lights up, but my Mac os not reading it. I'm running 10.12.3 (Sierra). I've tried on 2 separate Macbooks, and have tried multiple different cords. I desperately need to access the data on this drive!

  11. Hi, I also experienced this problem, not reading external HDD in MAC but working in Windows computer and I wanted to share my other solution.
    Insert your external HDD in Windows computer.
    Go to Exernal HDD drive > right click > properties > Tools
    On Tools tab click CHECK in Error Checking.
    Wait till it finish checking, after that remove external and try using it in MAC.
    It work for me many times. Hope it helps others too.

  12. Hello, Out of nowhere, my mac isn't picking up my external hard drive, it wont come up in finder. What do I do.

  13. Is your drive password protected like mine? My computer was being glitchy and when I tried to eject my g-drive it wanted a password, something I never saw before "wanting a password to eject." Once I entered the password, the drive no longer appeared except for in Disc Utility. After days of panicking and trying to 'verify disk,' I right clicked on the disc and it said 'unlock.' I entered the password and it worked! The drive still doesn't show up when plugged in until I go through disc utility to unlock it, but at least I have access to it again

  14. My Hard drive doesn't show up in finder or in Disk Utility. Iv check at the prefrences in finder and i have it set to show external hard drives. The Harddrive its self lights up and makes the spinning sound when its plugged in. Just can't find away to get into my files

  15. CoasterB, I am having the exact same issue. Did you ever get it resolved? I would love to hear a solution if you found one. TIA.

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