USB Device Not Recognized on Mac or Windows 10/11: 10 Fixes

Cassie Xie
Last updated: Jan 3, 2024
Summary: This tutorial provides some possible solutions to help you fix the USB device not recognized or not showing up error on Mac or Windows.
USB device not recognized

Causes to USB Device Not Recognized on Mac/PC

If you connect an external USB device/drive to your computer but receive a “USB device not recognized” error, it may be caused by various reasons.

The possible causes include: loose or improper connection, outdated or corrupted USB driver, the conflict between the USB drive and your computer, missing important updates on your computer, computer system bugs, malware or virus infection of the USB, corrupted files on the USB, etc.

Below are some possible solutions to help you fix USB device not recognized or not showing up on Mac or Windows 10/11.

Fix 1. Disconnect and Reconnect the USB Device

You can disconnect the USB device from your computer and connect it again. Sometimes the loose connection may cause the USB not showing up on your computer.

Related: [Fixed] USB Keeps Disconnecting and Reconnecting on Mac/PC

Fix 2. Change Another USB Port, Cable, Computer

  • Connect the USB device to a different USB port on your computer. The current port maybe not functioning properly.
  • Ensure that the USB cable you're using is in good condition and properly connected. You can change another USB cable to try again. Also, verify if the USB device works well by connecting it to another computer.

Fix 3. Restart Your Computer

Sometimes a simple computer restart may help fix the USB not recognized problem. Try restarting your computer and then check if the USB device can be recognized after restarting.

Fix 4. Update Computer System

Make sure your Mac or Windows 10/11 is running the latest software updates. Sometimes, outdated operating systems can cause USB recognition issues. Update your Mac or Windows system and try to connect the USB device again.

To update your Mac, click Apple > System Settings > General > Software Update. Install newer updates available for your Mac.

how to update Mac

To update Windows, click Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates.

Fix 5. Update USB Drivers

Outdated or incompatible USB drivers can lead to USB device not recognized problems.

On Mac, you can update your Mac to install the newer updates of USB drivers.

On Windows, you can press Windows + S, type “device manager”, and select Device Manager. Expand USB Serial Bus Controllers, right-click the target USB controller and select “Update driver”. You can also uninstall the driver by selecting “Uninstall device”. Then restart your computer and Windows will automatically reinstall the USB driver.

Alternatively, you can visit your computer manufacturer's website or the USB device manufacturer's website to manually download and install the latest USB drivers.

Fix 6. Run a Malware/Virus Scan

Malware or virus infection may cause USB malfunction. You can run a malware/virus scan for your USB device and computer to see if the problem can be fixed.

Related: Mac Virus Scan with XProtect | Top 5 Antivirus for Mac (Sonoma)

Fix 7. Delete Corrupted Files on the USB

If there are some corrupted files on the USB flash drive, the USB may not work properly. Find the corrupted files and delete them.

Fix 8. Make Sure to Safely Eject the USB Each Time

You should safely eject the USB drive from your Mac or Windows computer after usage. Improper ejection may cause file/USB corruption or the USB device not recognized issue.

Fix 9. Reset SMC or PRAM/NVRAM (Mac)

On a Mac, resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) or the Parameter RAM (PRAM) and Non-Volatile RAM (NVRAM) can help resolve various hardware-related issues, including USB problems.

To reset SMC on Mac, you can shut down your Mac and start your Mac again. Alternatively, you can press Control + Option + Shift for 7 seconds, and then press and hold the Power button.

To reset PRAM/NVRAM, you can shut down your Mac and disconnect all USB devices. Press the Power button. As soon as the computer turns on, immediately press and hold Command + Option + P + R keys for about 20 seconds until the gray screen appears.

Fix 10. Format the USB Drive

You can reformat the USB drive if it still not working properly.

On Mac, click Spotlight, type disk utility, and select Disk Utility to open it. Select the target USB drive and click Erase button in the toolbar. Select a file system like exFAT, NTFS, or MS-DOS (FAT) to continue formatting the USB.

how to format a USB drive

On Windows, you can right-click the target USB drive from File Explorer and select Format. Then choose a preferred file system format to follow the instructions to format the USB to FAT32, exFAT, or NTFS.

How to Read and Write NTFS USB Drives on Mac

NTFS drive is read-only on Mac. If you have a USB drive formatted in NTFS, you need to use an NTFS for Mac software program to write to the NTFS drive.

BuhoNTFS, a top free NTFS for Mac software application, helps you easily mount the NTFS drive in read and write status on Mac. It lets you smoothly read, write, copy, edit, delete files, etc. on the NTFS drive on your Mac.

For macOS 10.13 and above


This post mainly provides some possible solutions to help you fix USB device not recognized or USB drive not showing on Mac or Windows 10/11. Hope now you can smoothly access and use your USB device.

Cassie has been writing about technology for her entire career life - over 5 years. She enjoys diving into how Apple products work and then breaking it down in a way anyone can understand.