External hard drive not recognized on Mac – Fixed

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Are you facing trouble mounting your external drive on Mac? This could be due external drive corruption or malware. Do not worry! With the help of solutions provided in the article, you will be able to fix external hard disk not recognized on Mac issues.

Whenever you plug in an external hard drive to your Mac computer, it should show on Finder. If you are unable to recognize the external hard drive on Mac, this might be an indication of a hard drive being corrupt or faulty. A few other reasons may include unsafe external hard drive removal from the multiple device, virus attack, system crash, file system corruption and some hardware problems, etc.

The article explains 2 different scenarios of external drive not showing up on Mac.

Case 1: Mac external hard drive is showing up in Disk Utility

Case 2: External hard drive is not showing up on Mac disk utility


Before heading to fix the issue of external hard drive not recognized on mac, here are a few basic checks you need to verify that could help you mount the drive on Mac.

  1. Verify if the drive is powered adequately
  2. There could be a problem with USB ports, therefore verify the ports by changing USB ports
  3. Make sure there is not fault in the drive cable connection
  4. Try restarting your Mac in safe mode
  5. Also, you can try using different Mac device to verify if the problem is in external drive or macOS.

If you are still unable to find your external drive, let us start with the first scenario that is the external hard drive is not recognized on Mac but it is mounted in Disk Utility.

Scenario 1: Mac not recognizing the external hard drive

If Mac external hard drive is not mounting on a desktop or in Finder . The next step is to verify the state of the external hard drive in Disk Utility. 

macOS Utility is part of the built-in recovery system of your Mac, from which you can boot into Mac and use its utilities (Disk Utility) to repair certain logical errors of the hard drive.

External hard drive showing up in Disk utility

Note: You can make use of all the below-mentioned methods to solve external hard drive not recognized on Mac if and only if it is mounted in Disk utility. 

Solution 1: Fix External Hard Drive Not Recognized on Mac using Disk Utility

If the external drive is being used for the first time on Mac and is not mounting on a desktop or in Finder. You can check your preference setting where your settings might not be set to display external hard drives on your desktop.

Step 1: Go to Finder > Preferences > Sidebar/General tab.

Step 2: Select Device < External disks(or you can find external disks under Show these items on the desktop).

Note: This is the easiest method to make an external hard drive mount on Mac. However, there are chances when Finder stops responding. In such cases, you need to fix the Finder problem and continue with the steps.

If there are any logical errors or corruption in the disk, an external hard disk won’t be recognized on Mac.  You can try fixing external hard drive not recognized on Mac with First Aid in Disk utility.

Solution 2: The external hard drive not mounting on Mac

The issue that Mac doesn’t recognize the external hard drive could be fixed with Disk Utility under Mac Recovery Mode.

Step 1: Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold Command + R keys to get into Recovery Mode, release the keys when you see the Apple logo.

Step 2: Select Disk Utility in macOS/Mac OS X Utilities and click Continue

Step 3: Select the external hard drive mounted and run First Aid to check and repair errors in this drive.

What if you have accidentally deleted the Mac HD in disk utility? Do not worry, click on the given link to fix the issue and recover the data from the Mac drive.

However, if you are unable to recognize the external hard drive on Mac even after performing all the above-mentioned methods, this might be due to severe corruption in the drive. This can be easily solved by reformatting explained in the next solution. 

Solution 3:  Fix Mac not recognizing external hard drive by reformatting

reformatting to show up external hard drive on Mac

Note: Reformatting will erase all your data stored on the drive. If you have any important files on the external hard drive, you need to restore data before reformatting. You can recover data using a safe and secure hard drive recovery tool

Before you face a hard situation of data loss from your external drive use SFWare hard drive recovery tool. The tool is explicitly designed to recover data from all data loss situations from external hard drive including formatting or corruption on the drive. It supports APFS, HFS, HFS+, exFAT, FAT32 file system drives on all versions of macOS. 

Free Download for Mac

Once you are ensured all your important data is recovered from external hard drive, try fixing Mac doesn’t recognize external hard drive by reformatting.

Step 1: Launch Disk Utility

Step 2: Select the Mac not recognized external hard drive from the left part of the window

Step 3: Click the Erase on the top of the Disk Utility window

Step 4: Complete the related information like name, format, scheme, then click Erase

Reformatting will surely help you in mounting the external hard drive on Mac if it is mounted in Disk Utility.  error Disk Utility can’t repair this disk.

What if the external hard drive is not showing up on Mac in disk utility? What if your important data is stuck on the external hard disk? how would you recover corrupt external hard disk?

Free Download for Mac

How to Recover Formatted Data from unrecognized external drive on Mac?

Download SFWare Data Recovery Mac on your computer and connect your external drive, launch the application.

  1. Select Recover Drives from the main screen. Next, Recover Drive/ Partition Recovery optionRecover data from external drive on Mac
  2. Next, the all the available drives will be displayed on the screen. Select the Volume and click on Next optionSelect Mac Volume to recover files
  3. Now, select the formatted drive on Mac. The Software initializes it’s scanning process to reach the drive’s each sector.
  4. After the completions of process, you can view recoverable files either in Data View or File Type View.Recover files from external drive unrecognized on Mac using Data or File type view

Once the recovery process finishes, you can check each file by previewing them before saving. Later, select and save files on your computer.

Scenario 2: What to do When External hard drive is not showing up in Mac Disk Utility

You can make your external hard disk recognizable on Mac Disk Utility by resetting the NVRAM. By trying the basic check explained earlier, disk utility should be able to show the external drive. however, if you have problems related to the settings controlled by NVRAM or PRAM, resetting NVRAM or PRAM will solve the issue.

Steps to reset NVRAM or PRAM

First, restart your Mac. Press Option + Command + P + R keys together for 20 seconds. Leave the keys if Mac has started again normally and you hear the second startup sound.

Performing any of the above-mentioned steps, you should be able to recognize your external hard drive on Mac. If you are still unable to mount the external hard drive on Mac or Disk utility, the drive might have serious hardware problems that cannot be fixed with the above-mentioned methods. It is recommended to fix your hard drive with the help of a local hard drive technician.


It is always rewarding to have back up of data as you never know when you might encounter data loss.  However, there are few manual methods that can help you regain access to your external hard drive that is not recognized on Mac. This article also provides you a way out to recover data from the external hard drives if you fail to mount your external hard drive on Mac.

SFWare hard drive recovery tool that supports recovery from all kinds of external hard drives including Seagate, Samsung, WD, Transcend, Toshiba and other external drives.

If you were successful in fixing external hard drive not recognized on Mac issue with the help of this article, do let us know in the comment section below.

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