8 Fixes for External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac (Sonoma)

Robert Xiao
Last updated: Sep 26, 2023
Summary: Wondering why your Mac doesn't recognize your external hard drive? Look no further. From this blog, you will get to know the possible reasons behind and easy fixes.

Normally, when you plug your external hard drive into your Mac, you should be able to easily find it on the desktop or under "Locations" in the Finder sidebar. However, sometimes, it doesn't appear. Wondering why and how to fix this? Read on.

In this blog post, you'll learn why your external hard drive isn't showing up on your Mac and what to do about it.

Let's get started.

[Fixed] External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac (Sonoma)

Why Your Mac Doesn't Recognize External Hard Drive?

Not being able to find your external hard drive on your Mac can be frustrating. But don't panic. Let's start by finding out why your Mac can't read your external hard drive.

The reasons include:

  • There is a problem with your USB port and cable.
  • Your external hard drive is corrupted.
  • Your external hard drive isn't formatted properly. (NTFS read-only problem.)
  • Hardware or software on your Mac needs to be updated.

How to Fix External Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

Now that you know why your external hard drive is not showing up, let's move on to your biggest concern - how to troubleshoot.

Here, we have collected multiple solutions for you. Hopefully one or more of these will help your Mac successfully read your drive.

1. Set Finder to Show External Drive

If you can't see your plugged-in external drive on the desktop or in the Finder sidebar, allow it to show up in Finder settings.

  1. Open the Finder.
  2. Click the Finder menu and select Settings.
  3. Check External disks in the General tab.
    Set Finder to Show External Disk on Mac Desktop
  4. Switch to the Sidebar tab, and under Locations, check External disks.
    Set Finder to Shw External Drive in Finder Sidebar

2. Check the Connecting Cable

Once properly set up in Finder, your external hard drive should appear. If you still can't find it, the problem might be with the connecting cable. There have been cases where if your drive doesn't have enough power, it won't mount on your Mac.

So make sure your cable is not faulty, or try another cable.

3. Change USB Ports

One of the main reasons why your external hard drive is not showing up on your Mac is a problem with your USB port. If your Mac has another port, try connecting your drive to that port.

If you are using a USB port through a USB hub, make sure your hub is properly connected and try another USB port.

4. Use an NTFS for Mac Tool

If your drive is formatted as NTFS, your Mac can only read it. NTFS is a file system format that is compatible with Windows and Linux, but not macOS. Does that mean we can't use NTFS formatted drives on a Mac?

Fortunately, there is an NTFS for Mac tool called BuhoNTFS that allows you to read, copy, write, and even format NTFS-formatted external hard drives on your Mac. All you need to do is select your preferred NTFS driver for Mac, install it, and follow the on-screen instructions to seamlessly use your drive on your Mac.

5. Change the Drive Format

Alternatively, you can change the format of your external drive to something your Mac can recognize, such as APFS, HFS+, exFAT, or the older FAT32. Note that formatting erases everything on your drive. That said, this method is more suitable for drives with corrupted data systems.

Here's how to format a drive on your Mac:

  1. Connect your drive to your Mac.
  2. Open the Disk Utility via Finder, Launchpad, or Spotlight.
  3. In the left-hand column of Disk Utility, find and click the external drive you want to format.
  4. Click Erase in the toolbar.
    Format External Drive on Mac with Disk Utility
  5. When prompted, name your drive, choose the format you want, and click Erase.
    Format External Drive on Mac
  6. Once the erasing process is complete, click Done.
APFS (Apple File System) is the default file system for macOS 10.13 High Sierra and later versions of macOS.

6. Repair Drive with Disk Utility

If the above methods do not resolve your issue, run First Aid on your drive. First Aid is a feature of Disk Utility that helps you check and repair your drive for file system problems. Here's how:

  1. Insert the drive into your Mac.
  2. Open Disk Utility > select your drive.
  3. Click First Aid in the toolbar, and then click the Run button.
    Run First Aid for External Hard Drive with Disk Utility

7. Update macOS

If your drive is formatted as APFS, the standard format of macOS, but it still does not show up when you connect it, there may be a problem with your macOS. At this point, update your macOS.

  • On macOS Sonoma and Ventura, click the Apple menu > System Settings > General > Software Update to check for, download, and install the latest OS.

  • On macOS Monterey or earlier, click the Apple menu > About This Mac > Software Update to check and update your macOS.

8. Restart Your Mac

Restarting is also a good way to go. It may fix some macOS issues that prevent your Mac from detecting your external drive.

Just click the Apple menu, then select Restart.

Bonus Tip: How to Quickly Clean Up Your Mac Hard Drive

Insufficient storage space is the most immediate reason you might want to use an external drive on your Mac. Moving some files to your external drive is a good option if your Mac is running low on storage space, but you can also clean up your Mac so you don't have to worry about this problem again.

BuhoCleaner is one of the best Mac cleaners. It cleans up and optimizes your Mac in just a few clicks. No professional skills are required.

DownloadFor macOS 10.10 and above
100,000+ Satisfied Users Worldwide
Quickly Clean Up Mac with BuhoCleaner

Here are some of its noticeable features:

  • Clean up Mac in seconds.
  • Uninstall unwanted apps and programs.
  • Find and remove duplicate files.
  • Analyze disk space usage and easily locate large files.
  • Monitor system status in real-time.
  • Control startup programs and services.

The Bottom Line

You have learned how to fix the Mac not recognizing your external hard drive issue. We hope you have successfully resolved it using the tricks above.

To help you avoid running out of storage space on your Mac, we also mention BuhoCleaner as a bonus. If you haven't tried it yet, click the button below to clean up your Mac now.

Robert is a tech-savvy fan who loves all things Apple. As a hobbyist of gardening and meditation, he is also a seasoned writer covering a wide array of Apple products, like iPhone, iPad, iOS, and more.