Mac Doesn’t Recognize External Hard Drive, How to Fix?

Sometimes when you try to plug in any external drive into your Macbook, it fails to Recognize External hard Drive. Along with that, the same is also faced when you remove the external drive from your Macbook and then try to connect it again.

This can get really frustrating and the only option we are left with is restarting the Macbook and then try to connect the external drive once again.

Way of Plugging an External Hard Drive in Macbook

Way of Plugging an External Drive in Macbook

Well, there is a huge possibility that things might work this time but if the Macbook still doesn’t Recognize External hard drive it can be due to many reasons. Some of the reasons for this to happen are listed below.

But before we begin with that let us see the correct way of plugging an external drive:

Step1: Turn on Your Mac or MacBook.

Step2: Plug in the best USB cable into the Mac. And the other end to the External hard drive.

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Step3: Do not use a hub for connection, instead plug your Drive directly into Mac’s port.

Step4: Once the USB cable is connected, turn on the external drive.Turn ON your Mac or MacBook

Troubleshooting External hard drive in Your MacBook

Troubleshooting External Drive in Your MacBook

If following the above methods does not show our External hard drive in your Macbook, try the below-mentioned troubleshooting methods.

Let’s start with some basic troubleshooting ways that you can try to solve the problem:

1. Check Drive

Check again if your External hard drive is plugged properly in the Macbook. While this method may sound easy but as we are relying on a USB cable or HDMI cable to connect, there is a possibility that the connection may be loose. So check the connection to make sure all is good.

2. Faulty Cable

If you have an alternative cable, try to use that. It is possible that the cable you are using is faulty, which will create the problem. If you are using a hub, then that also may be a problem as it is not compatible with the latest Macbook.

3. Damaged Port

There can also be a hardware issue with your Mac, so try to connect the external drive in some other port of the MacBook. A damaged port will not allow the external drive to connect with your MacBook.

4. Reboot Your Mac

The Mac OS may have an issue because the USB won’t boot. This can be easily fixed by restarting your Macbook. Press and hold the power button for some time and when the dialog box appears, press restart or press R. Restarting will help refresh your Mac’s memory and start the Macbook afresh.

5. Slow

This does not sound very convincing, but sometimes if you plug in the drive slowly into the Macbook, the device is recognized at once an you do not face any issue.

6. Power issues

There are times when the external drive is not recognized due to a lack of power. To connect your external drive to an external drive and then plug it into the Macbook.

If your external drive does not support external power, then either use another port of your Macbook to connect or connect your MacBook to the power source and then connect your external drive. This will also help in providing enough power to the MacBook.

7. Eject

Though we tend to take it casually, sometimes when we do not eject the drive before removing it from the Macbook this problem of the drive not being recognized by Macbook occurs.

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Easy and Simple Tips To Troubleshooting

Easy and Simple To Troubleshooting

The above methods should do the needful and your Macbook should start showing your External drive. However, if the problem persists you can use either of the below methods for troubleshooting. These too are easy and simple to apply.

1. Drive Format

There is a possibility that the Drive has been formatted incorrectly and is not optimised for Mac. It is possible that your drive is only eligible for Windows. Thus, if you have a PC or Laptop try to connect the drive to either of the devices.

The best way to look for the drive format issue is to click on the Apple (in the toolbar menu) in that click on the About this Mac and further into storage. If the external drives are shown to you on the screen, then this means that the drive is incorrectly formatted for MAC.

If you require more details you can go to the Apple Menu and in that click on the About this Mac. Under the tab click on System Report below the information about your Mac and its OS.

2. Mac Formatting Error

one of the reason can also be that Mac is not formatted to show external drives. SO the Mac is Recognize External hard drive, but the icon is not shown on the screen. If this is the case, you can use the Finder menu under the devices. In the finder, tab click on preferences

Under both the sidebar and the General tabs, see the section “Show these items on the desktop: (or sidebar:)”

Now make sure  that External Disks and Hard Drives have a checkmark in the box

The drive will be visible in the left column. So you can easily access the drive by not worrying too much. In the Finder menu, you can also change the settings to ensure that the drive is visible on the desktop from the next time.

3. Reset NVRAM

For resetting the NVRAM shot down your Mac and switch it on back. Immediately also press the four keys for at least 20 seconds: Option, Command, P, and R. You Mac will start again, release the keys when you hear the second startup chime. The drive will begin to show now.

4. Apple’s Disk Utility

Under the System Preference, you will find Disk Utility. You can also find it using the spotlight. Once you see the Utility Desk, click the button to mount. You will be able to see your External hard drive on the desktop as well as the Finder menu.

Once you can see our external drive, choose the First Aid or verify (repair) disk. This process will find and correct any mirror errors that your drive might be facing.

5. Terminal

If the system is Recognize External hard drive but not showing, you should try to disconnect the drive and try remounting it again with the terminal.

This can be done by the following method

Step1: The Application in your Macbook, find utilities and click on it. You will see a terminal tab in Utilities, click on it.

Step2: Once the Terminal opens, type the command ‘ diskutil list’. This command will show you the basic information about all the available volumes and drives that are attached to your Macbook. So if you want to see if the drive is really connected to your Macbook, this command is of great help as it displays your drive if it is connected.

If you are unable to enter and get access to your terminal, you will have to grant the Terminal app full disk access.

Step3: Once the command is typed, the screen will show a list of all your disks

Step4: Once you type in the command, you see a list of all your disks. In the screen look for the section which will be labeled /dev/disk_ (external, physical).

This is known as the disk identifier, where the underscore is the number or digital which has been assigned to your External hard drive. For partitioned drive, the disk identifier is followed by an s and the number following it represents the partition number eg. Disk3s1, disk3s2, disk3s3

Eject That Disk Through The Command Diskutil

Eject That Disk Through The Command Diskutil

Now in the terminal put the command with the number and digit that has been assigned to the drive you are looking for.

This command will open all the information about your External hard drive, including the manufacturer, the size, and other facts. Once you have found the drive, this means that your system is Recognize External Drives.

Now eject that disk through the command diskutil eject disk _(the underscore will be the disk identifier number of your external drive ).

Once ejected check again for your external drive. For confirmation. Once your drive is gone, remove the drive physically from the MacBook and try to reinsert it. The probability of the Macbook identifying your drive this time is very high.

While these are some generic troubleshooting ways if your External hard drive is not being identified by your Macbook, there are also specific things you can do is connecting the external drive instigates your Macbook to certain specific actions like shut down. Some of these tricks are mentioned below:

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Macbook Shuts Down When you Plug it into External hard drive

This action normally takes place if your hard drive is drawing too much or ‘incorrect’ power from the USB. In such cases, the SMC of the Mac automatically shuts down in order to protect your computer.

If such a thing is happening very frequently then you need to connect the drive to an external hard drive if possible or try to use another cable that provides proper power to the External hard drive.

1. You Can Also Reset your Mac SMC To Avoid Such a Situation

You Can Also Reset your Mac SMC To Avoid Such a Situation

If the battery of your Macbook is non-removable then Shutdown and unplug the power adaptor of your Macbook. Once done, press shift-control-option along with the power button at the same time.

Hold the keys along with the power button for 10 seconds. For Macbook Pro with Touch ID, the Touch ID button is the power button. Release all the keys, plug into the power button and power button again to turn on your Macbook. This will do the trick of resetting your Mac SMC.

If the batter of your Macbook is removable then shut down your Mac and remove the power adaptor. Now remove the battery. With the battery removed, press and hold the power button for 5 sec. Place the battery again and reconnect your MacBook to the power adaptor again. With this power on your Macbook.

2. Inspect With Console

Inspect With Console

While the Apple console is a little confusing, at the time of need it is the most useful and helpful app that can solve all your problems. Thus, this problem too can be fixed by Apple Console.

The Apple Console basically helps identify problems that you cannot do and helps troubleshoot those problems. It will not solve the problem but it diagnoses it and gives you information about the same.

While Console is not easy, after macOS Sierra, Apple has tried it’s best to retool Console and make it easier and user-friendly for customers.

You can find console under Applications in the Utilities Tab. The console as mentioned above will help diagnose the problem, so it will tell you if your external drive is detected or not.

SO before attaching your USB drive, open the Console and select the Errors and Faults Tab. Now plug in your drive and see your drive or error related to the same is detected by the console. If nothing is visible on Console, then the problem is not in the USB drive.

There are some users who also use a third-party tool to solve their problem of external drive visibility. If none of the above methods one can resort to a third-party tool to get their external drive working and smoothly work their way through this problem.


Recognize External hard drive is a very common occurrence in Macbook and one can easily troubleshoot the problem. Whether it by using simple easy tricks or through Console, the problem can be fixed.

While you can make sure that the drive you are using is in working condition and adaptable to your Macbook, any other problem can be fixed by Macbook very easily. For the future too take special care and unmount or eject your Recognize External hard drive before removing it from your laptop. Most drive issues are caused when the disk is not removed properly from the laptop, thus causing issues later.

People also search for like: How do I fix my external hard drive not detected on my Mac? , How do I fix my external hard drive not being recognized?, How do I fix my external hard drive not mounting on my Mac?, Why are my external hard drive files not loading on Mac?, How do I force my Mac to read an external hard drive?, How do I diagnose an external hard drive on a Mac?

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