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

Posted by Katrina to Mac Data Recovery on January 29th, 2019

Hello, my 1 TB WD external drive was working fine, and I plugged it in today and no files are showing up. Disk utility shows that there is still the 200 GB being used but is unable to mount the external hard drive. How to fix external hard drive files not showing up on Mac?

There are chances that when opening your Seagate or WD My Passport external hard drive in Finder, you find nothing in it or some files are missing. However, Disk Utility proves that a section of the disk capacity is taken by something. If you can't see files on external hard drive, don't be upset, you are not the only one, as quite a lot of Mac users have this issue. This article will explain why files disappeared from external hard drive on Mac and how to fix this issue.

Reasons and solutions to external hard drive files not showing up on Mac

Possible cause 1: The files are hidden

Sometimes, the files are not really missing, they are just hidden, not showing up to us. How to show hidden files on external hard drive Mac, here are solutions:

Solution 1: Show hidden files with a keyboard shortcut

Using a keyboard shortcut is the easiest way to show hidden files/folders on Mac, let's have a look at how it works:

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.

Solution 2: Show hidden files using command line

The Terminal is a default Apple application which allows you to make different operations. To show hidden files on Mac using command line, just follow these 2 steps as below:

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

This command will this command causes the Finder to quit and restart. Then you will see hidden files or folders on your Mac.

Possible cause 2: File system errors

In some cases, if the file system is corrupted due to virus attack, unsafe ejection, sudden power failure and more, files is not showing in external hard drive. At this time, you should check the errors and try to repair the corrupted drive.

Solution 1: Repair the corrupted external hard drive via First Aid

First Aid is a useful tool to verify and repair minor errors on both hard disks and external drives. When facing external hard drive files not showing files in Finder, you can try running 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 corrupted external hard drives via First Aid

Important: Recover data from external hard drive with free data recovery software

If First Aid failed on the external hard drive, the drive may have some serious file system corruptions. The only solution is to reformat the external hard drive. But the process will erase all data stored on the drive. If you didn't back up important data, you have to recover data from the corrupted external hard drive firstly.

As a free Mac external hard drive data recovery software, iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is highly recommended. It is designed to recover data from corrupted, unmountable, formatted, inaccessible external hard drives, hard disks, USB flash drives, SD cards, memory cards, etc. on macOS 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.

Free external hard drive data recovery for Mac

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

Solution 2: Reformat to fix the corrupted file system

After recovering data from external hard drive, you can reformat the drive without worry. 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.


This post have summarized almost all feasible solution for external hard drives files not showing up on Mac issue, hope it work for you. It is worth mentioning that external hard drives is prone to corruption, as they are used to transform data between different computers. So to avoid unnecessary trouble, you need to pay more attention to the operation you have made during usage.

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