Can't see files on external hard drive Mac, how to fix?

Posted by Katrina to Mac Data Recovery on January 30th, 2019

Summary: Sometimes, you can't see files on external hard drives Mac. Don't worry! In the following content, we will discuss the possible causes and solutions to external hard drive files not showing up on Mac. Besides, an effective and reliable way to recover data from external hard drives will be mentioned as well.

Problem - Can't see files on external hard drives Mac

I am trying to use my external hard drive I have had for a couple years to back up some files on my computer, but the data I had stored on there already has disappeared. I know the data I already had on there is still on the hard drive because nearly half of the space on the drive is used up. Is there any way I can find and access the old files again?

If you find files disappeared from external hard drives on Mac, don't be panic, you are not the only one. There are many people who complaint in forum they have encountered files not showing in external hard drive Mac. Generally, this issue can be caused by various factors such as mistaken deletion, hidden files, corrupted files system, and virus invasion, etc. Want to get all missing files from the external hard drive? Go ahead to find feasible solutions.

How to fix external hard drive files not showing up on Mac?

Solution 1: Show hidden files on flash drives

In some cases, files are hidden by the operating system, then you can't see them on the external hard drive. You might accidentally hide files and the system also comes with sensitive hidden files by default to keep thing simple. Let's see how to show hidden files on the external hard drive Mac:

Option 1: Use a keyboard shortcut

Step 1: From the Finder of Mac OS, navigate to any folder where there might be hidden files.

Step 2: Now press Command + Shift + Period to instantly toggle to show hidden files.

Option 2: Run command lines

Step 1: Open the Terminal application from Launchpad.

Step 2: Copy and paste the following command into the Terminal window, one at a time, pressing ENTER after each one.

  • defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true
  • killall Finder

Note that this command causes the Finder to quit and restart. When the Finder reappears, you will see hidden files if any exist.

Solution 2: Recover data from the external hard drive

If you still can't see files on the external hard drive, the drive may have corrupted file system which can't be recognized by your Mac computer. If you don't back up any important data, it's highly recommended to recover data from external hard drive with free Mac external hard drive data recovery software. Because in this situation, all data stored on the drive is so fragile that any operation will overwrite it, resulting in irreparable data loss.

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is a free Mac data recovery software that can recover data from corrupted, unmountable, formatted, inaccessible external hard drives, hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, memory cards, etc. on macOS Catalina/Mojave/High Sierra/Sierra and OS X 10.12/10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

Step 1: Connect the external hard drive that is not showing files on Mac.

Step 2: Download, install and launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

Step 3: Select the external hard drive, then click "Next" to start scanning for lost files.

Recover data from external hard drives on Mac

Step 3: Preview the scanning results, choose files you want to recover, and then click "Recover".

Solution 3: Repair the external hard drive with First Aid

Within the Disk Utility, First Aid is a function for checking and repairing file system errors. Here are steps to run it:

Step 1: Go to Utilities, find Disk Utility and run this program.

Step 2: Click "Show all devices" in View option and select this external hard drive in the left sidebar.

Step 3: Click "First Aid" in the top menu of Disk Utility.

Step 4: Click "Run" to check and repair errors in this drive.

Repair external hard drives via First Aid

Solution 4: Reformat to fix external hard drive not showing files Mac

If none of the solutions above can help to fix external hard drive files not showing up on Mac, the last solution is to reformat the external hard drive. But reformatting will erase all data on the drive, please make sure you have recovered lost data back with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

Go to Disk Utility and click the external hard drive in the left sidebar. Click "Erase" and fill in the information that the wizard asked, then click "Erase" to complete this process.

Bottom lines

Can't see files on external hard drive Mac? In this article, we mainly focus on how to fix this issue. Also, you can run into USB drive files not showing up due to the similar reasons. If you are afraid of data loss, the good news is that iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery can recover data from all kinds of scenarios.

Still have questions?