Mac Not Recognizing External Hard Drive?

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Is your Mac not recognizing external hard drive data? Don’t fret! Let’s solve this mystery and get your external hard drive back in working order.

Why Won’t Mac Recognize My Hard Drive?

There are many reasons why your Mac won’t recognize your external hard drive. So it’s important to use some troubleshooting to figure out what’s wrong. Otherwise, you could waste time!

Some of the most common reasons why a Mac won’t see external hard drive include issues with the cable or USB port, some configuration problem, or a faulty disk within the hard drive.

How to Troubleshoot Mac Not Recognizing External Hard Drive

Let’s fix your mac not recognizing external hard drive issue with a little bit of easy troubleshooting. Just run through these steps with me to fix your hard drive problem:

Step 1: Make sure the physical connection is secure

Check that cable connecting from the Mac to the hard drive. Is it secure? If not, make double sure the connection is secure and the cables are good. If there’s an LED light on the external hard drive, check to see if it turns on when you plug the hard drive in.

Look on both cable ends to verify that the connection is secure to the hard drive and to the USB port of your Mac.

Also check for more tips.

Step 2: Make sure your Settings are correct

Your Mac could be set to not show your external hard drive directly on your Mac desktop screen. Let’s fix it / check!

  • First, open Finder.
  • Press the “Finder” menu in the top left corner of the screen
  • Go to Preferences, then make sure the “General” tab is selected (it’s selected by default)
  • Under “Show these items on the desktop”, verify that the “Hard disks” checkbox is checked.
  • Also go to the “Sidebar” tab
  • Then make sure “Hard disks” is enabled there too

Step 3: Run Disk Utility to Repair Your Disk

Your external hard drive may need to be repaired using the Disk Utility app, which is included on every Mac computer.

  • Open Disk Utility (go to Applications – Utilities – Disk Utility)
  • Choose the external hard drive to repair
  • Press “Repair Disk” and wait for the hard drive repair to finish

In addition to hard drive repair, Disk Utility checks your external hard drive for proper functionality & health. For example, Disk Utility can check to see if any sectors on the hard drive are bad – then it repairs them. After hard disk repair, you and your Mac stand a much better chance of fixing the issue of Mac not recognizing external hard drives.

Step 4: Use another Cable

Cables go bad from time to time! This is a fact. So try a different cable to connect your external hard drive to your Mac.

Some hard drives use USB-C cables (newer hard drives), while older hard drives may use a different type of cable.

Even if you’re using the correct “type” of cable to connect your hard drive to Mac, the cable itself could still be bad! So try a 2nd cable as part of the Mac not recognizing your external hard drive troubleshooting process.

Step 5: Use another USB Port

Sometimes ports go bad – physically. Since USB ports are made of materials that can go bad over time with wear-and-tear (or suffer damage), they’re known to just “go bad”.

So if you have another port on your Mac to try, then try it. For example, if your external hard drive connects to your Mac via USB, then try a different USB port on your Mac.

Step 6: Use another Computer

As a possible “workaround“, try using a different computer to access the hard drive. This isn’t a solution as far as fixing the actual problem goes (getting Computer A to recognize the hard drive), but it could be a temporary fix.

Since there could be a variety of issues with any given computer, it’s worth trying your external hard drive on another Mac.

This could help you troubleshoot the issue.

For example:

  • My Mac isn’t recognizing my external hard drive
  • I use my friend’s Mac with my hard drive and the drive is recognized
  • Therefore, there’s probably an issue with my Mac

Step 7: Get Help From a Professional Data Recovery Expert

If you tried the troubleshooting steps above and had no luck, then you might require professional help. You can get a data recovery expert to get things off of your hard drive! Just google “hard drive repair near me” or “data recovery near me”. And speak with a professional data recovery expert about your external hard drive.

Sometimes external drives fail and sometimes Mac computers fail. So try not to be too discouraged if you find yourself requiring professional help.

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