Mac doesn't recognize external hard drive, how to fix?

Posted by Katrina to Mac Data Recovery on July 20th, 2018

My 2009 Macbook Pro will not recognize my external hard drive anymore. I'm not sure if it's an improper removal, as I use my hard drive a lot, or something else, but it's frustrating. The hard drive lights up, but nothing shows up on the desktop. Can anyone help?

In general, when you plug in an external hard drive to your Mac computer, it will show up on desktop or in Finder. But there are times when your Mac doesn't recognize the external hard drive, just like the situation above. The external hard drive not recognized on Mac often happens when you plug in an external hard drive again after unplugging. This issue usually results from unsafe ejection, virus attack, system crash, file system corruption, and some hardware problems, etc.

According to different situations, this passage will show you solutions to fix 'Mac doesn't recognize external hard drive' issue accordingly.

First of all: Do some basic checks

  • > Check the external hard drive is properly plugged in.
  • > Try using a different USB cable and port to ensure that they are not at fault.
  • > Try another Mac computer to see if you can access the external hard drive.
  • > Try to plug the external hard drive in a PC. Perhaps the external hard drive is formatted to Windows NT file system, which can't be read or write by your Mac. In this case, you can download and install iBoysoft Drive Manager to read/write to NTFS drive.

Check the state of the external hard drive in Disk Utility

After doing the above checks, if your external hard drive still can't be showing up on desktop or in Finder. The second step is to check the state of external hard drive in Disk Utility. Here we conclude three scenarios and provide different solutions.

Scenario 1: the external hard drive can show up in Disk Utility

If you see the external hard drive unmounted in Disk Utility, that means the drive is in normal state. In this situation, it is possible that external drives can't be showed in Finder or desktop, but you are able to modify it in preferences of Finder.

Solution: Update Finder Preferences to show external drives

Step 1: Go to Finder > Preferences >Sidebar/General tab.

Step 2: Select "External disks" under "Devices" (or "External disks" under "Show these items on the desktop").

Scenario 2: The external hard drive can't be mounted in Disk Utility

If the external hard drive is not mounting in Disk Utility, the drive might have some logical problems. Don't worry, any logical problem can be easily solved by reformatting.

Solution: Reformat the unrecognized external hard drive

Reformatting will erase all data stored on the drive. If you have critical files on the external hard drive, you need to restore lost data with a free Mac data recovery software. Here iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is your best choice.

Step 1: Recover data from unrecognized external hard drive

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is able to recover data from not recognized external hard drive, recover deleted files emptied from Mac Trash, recover data from formatted, unmountable, inaccessible or corrupted drive, recover deleted/lost partition, etc. It supports to recover data from APFS, HFS, HFS+, exFAT, FAT32 hard drive, external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, memory card, pen drive, digital camera, etc. on macOS Mojave 10.14/High Sierra 10.13/Sierra 10.12/10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

Tutorial to recover data from not recognized external hard drive on Mac with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

1. Launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

2. Select the not recognized external hard drive and click "Next" button to scan all lost data.

Recover data from not recognized external hard drive on Mac

Step 3: Preview the searching results, choose files we need, and click "Recover" to get them back.

Step 4: Have a check to ensure we have got all lost data back.

Step 2: Fix 'Mac doesn't recognized external hard drive' by reformatting

Step 1: Launch Disk Utility.

Step 2: Select the not recognized external hard drive on the left part of the window.

Step 3: Click the Erase on the top of the Disk Utility window.

Step 4: Complete the related information (name, format, scheme), then click Erase.

Scenario 3: The external hard drive can't show up in Disk Utility

When the external hard drive is unable to be found in Disk Utility, the external hard drive may have some hardware problems.

Solution 1: Try iBoysoft Mac data recovery

Although your Mac doesn't recognize external hard drive, it is possible that iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery can still detect the drive. Just have a try!

Solution 2: Send it to a local technician for help

If unfortunately you can't see the external hard drive in drive list when using iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery, the drive might have serious hardware problems which can't be fixed by software. Under that condition, please seek help from a local data recovery company as soon as possible.

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