How to fix WD hard drive not recognized on Mac without losing data?

By Molly | Posted to Mac Data Recovery Tips, updated on November 19th, 2020 |

Summary: This post shows how to access a WD hard drive that's not recognized by Mac. To avoid data loss when fixing the unrecognized WD external hard drive, you can recover lost data from the WD hard drive for free with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

Just like Seagate external hard drive not recognized on Mac, WD hard drive not recognized is a question frequently asked by Mac users in Apple related forums. It happens to WD My passport, WD My Book, WD Elements and Easystore, etc.

If you are one of those who are wondering:

  • Why Mac won't recognize my WD hard drive?
  • How can I make the WD hard drive detected and work on Mac again?
  • Can I fix this issue without losing my important data?

You are in the right place to make the WD hard drive recognized by:

  • 1. Trying six quick checks and fixes
  • 2. Checking if Finder allows connected external hard drive showing up
  • 3. Updating related WD Apps with WD Discovery for Mac
  • 4. Checking if the WD hard drive is password locked
  • 5. Repairing the unrecognized WD hard drive with First Aid
  • 6. Use WD Drive Utilities to check the unrecognized WD hard drives
  • 7. Reformatting the WD hard drives when it's not working

First, See How Mac Recognizes a WD External Hard Drive

The process of Mac recognizing an external hard drive is a little complicated even though you can't see it. Specifically, when you plug a WD hard drive into a Mac computer, macOS would be notified. Then macOS will call all related hardware and software to read, recognize, and show this hard drive on the Desktop and in Finder, so that finally you can access your data on the drive on your Mac computer.

So, we usually simplify this process in 4 steps:

  1. The WD hard drive is supplied with power, so that Mac can detect this storage device.
  2. macOS reads partition information of the WD hard drive.
  3. macOS recognizes the file system of each volume.
  4. Users access data on the WD hard drive.

However, if any part of this process goes wrong, hard drive problems like Mac won't recognize your WD hard drive would occur. As a consequence, you can't access, copy, write to or transfer data stored on it.

Now, Fix WD hard drive not recognized issue on Mac

So, based on the process of Mac recognizing a WD hard drive, we need a thorough check to know which part makes the WD hard drive not working on Mac, and then fix it.

1. Try Quick fixes when WD hard drive is not recognized by Mac

A proper connection is the most basic condition that Mac can access the WD hard drive. Or else the external hard drive would not even show up in Disk Utility. When your Mac can't recognize an external hard drive, you can always do the following quick fixes at the very beginning.

  • Make sure the WD hard drive is externally plugged into a wall outlet if it's a WD desktop hard drive like WD Elements Desktop and My Cloud.
  • Connect the WD hard drive directly to the computer and do not use a USB Hub.
  • Try a different USB cable and port for power and data supply, especially if the My Passport external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Utility.
  • Try a different USB-C adapter to connect the WD hard drive if your Mac only has the Thunderbolt 3 port.
  • Try to connect the WD hard drive with a different Mac computer to check if the WD hard drive can be recognized on that Mac.
  • Try to plug the WD hard drive in to a Windows PC to check if the file system of the WD hard drive is not compatible with Mac.

The WD hard drive lights on but is not recognized by Mac still?

Wait! Do you allow your Mac to show the recognized WD hard drive in the Finder and Desktop?

2. Show the WD hard drive in the Finder and Desktop

Sometimes, you think WD hard drive is not recognized by Mac because the WD external hard drive isn't showing up on Mac, neither in Finder nor on the desktop. However, the fact is that the WD hard drive is detected by macOS but it is not set to show up on Mac.

In this case, you can show the WD hard drive by changing the preferences:

  • Step 1: Go to Finder > Preferences > General, make sure the "External disks" option is ticked. This will make the recognized WD hard drive show up on the Desktop.
  • Step 2: Select Sidebar tab on the top, make sure the "External disks" option under Locations is also ticked.

The WD hard drive is not working on Mac still?

Well, it seems that Mac really can't recognize the WD hard drive. We need to take advantage of some tools for further check.

3. Update incompatible WD Apps with WD Discovery for Mac

WD Discovery is a desktop software for Mac and Windows for delivering WD software, updates and notifications for WD external hard drives.

When WD hard drive is not recognized, you can download WD Discovery for Mac to update WD Drive Utilities, WD Security, WD Backup, etc. Possibly, your Mac doesn't recognize the WD hard drive because the WD software is not compatible with your macOS.

4. Check if the WD hard drive is password locked

If you are using WD hard drives like My Book Drive and it is not recognized by Mac now, you can check if the hard drive is password protected. macOS can't read the partition information and mount the volumes if the WD hard drive is password locked. You can download and install WD Security to unlock the WD hard drive if a password has been set to protect the hard drive.

The WD hard drive is not encrypted? Then the reason for Mac not recognizing the WD hard drive is that macOS fails to access the partition and file system information. It could be a problem when WD external hard drive used on PS4 extended drive but not recognized.

5. Repair the unrecognized WD hard drive in Disk Utility

Disk Utility is a built-in disk management and repair tool on Mac computers. When a WD hard drive is not recognized or not working due to inner disk errors, you can try to repair the unrecognizable WD hard drive with Disk Utility.

Note: If the WD hard drive is recognzied in in Disk Utility but not mounted, you can select the Mount option first then the WD hard drive will be mounted on the Desktop..

  • Step 1: Go to Applications > Disk Utility.
  • Step 2: Click "View" and choose "Show All Devices".
  • Step 3: Select the unrecognized WD hard drive from the sidebar.
  • Step 4: Click on First Aid on the top. Wait while First Aid verifying and fixing possible errors of the WD hard drive.

If First Aid can't repair the external hard drive, or Disk Utility doesn't recognize the volumes of the drive, probably, the WD hard drive could be corrupted caused by bad sectors.

6. Use WD Drive Utilities when WD hard drives not working on Mac

WD Drive Utilities for Mac is a specialized utility for WD hard drives to run drive diagnostics (fix potential drive failures, slow disk performance, and bad sectors), Manage RAID configuration (For RAID supported models), Erase and format WD hard drives, etc.

If a WD hard drive won't work normally on a Mac due to bad sectors or other parameter errors, you can download WD Drive Utilities for Mac to have a diagnosis of what happens to your hard drive.

  • Step 1: Install WD Drive Utilities on your Mac and then launch it.
  • Step 2: Plug the unrecognizable WD hard drive into the Mac.
  • Step 3: Click on "Diagnose" and choose "Run Quick Drive Test" to check the WD drive completely.
  • Fix the unrecognized WD hard drive with WD Drive Utilities

7. Fix the unrecognized WD hard drive by reformatting

If the unrecognizable WD hard drive can't be repaired by WD Drive Utilities, the file system of the WD hard drive might be seriously damaged or corrupted. In this case, you have to reformat or erase this WD hard drive. Before that, it's necessary to recover lost data from unrecognized WD hard drive with free hard drive data recovery software for Mac, like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, to avoid data loss.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is professional in external hard drive data recovery on Mac. It supports Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Samsung, and hard drives of other manufacturers. This data recovery software can recover lost data when hard drive is unrecognized, unmountable, unreadable, corrupted on Mac. Besides, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can recover lost data from Macintosh hard drive, USB drives, Pen drives, SD cards, memory cards, CF cards as well as other storage devices.

Tutorial to recover lost data from unrecognizable WD hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac

Step 1. Download, install, and restart your Mac. Then launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

To recover your important photos, videos, music, documents, emails from this unrecognizable WD hard drive, you can free download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac.

Recover lost data from WD hard drive that is not reocognized

Step 2. Scan for lost data on the WD hard drive.

When the data recovery software is launched, you will see your unrecognizable WD hard drive in the interface. You need to select this corrupted WD hard drive and then click the "Scan" button to scan for data on this drive.

Step 3. Preview and recover files.

When WD hard drive is corrupted, you can't access your data on this drive. But you can use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to preview the data on the drive, which will help you make sure your files are not corrupted before you finally click "Recover" to recover them.

Preview data in unrecognized WD hard drive

Tutorial to reformatting WD hard drive that is not recognized by Mac

  • 1. Go to Disk Utility and select the unrecognized WD hard drive from the sidebar.
  • 2. Click on Erase on the top.
  • 3. Follow the instructions to finish the reformatting process.

After reformatting WD hard drive process finished, you will hopefully see the WD hard drive recognized and showing up on Mac correctly.

However, if the external hard drive is not showing up in Disk Utility at all, the great chance is that the WD hard drive is physically broken. As a result, Mac can't read and recognize it. In this case, we advise you to check if the serial number of the WD hard drive is still in warranty so that you can ask for a repair or replacement service.

WD provides no-limited warranty unless your WD hard drive was purchased from an authorized distributor or authorized reseller like Amazon. So, if your WD hard drive is dead for disk corruption, please free free to contact their support team for warranty status review and product replacement.

Conclusion

In the issue of WD hard drive not recognized, be it on Mac or Windows, data rescue should come first. This is also important when USB flash drives, SD card, or other external hard drives that are not showing up on Mac.

You can recover data from the unrecognized hard drive with free data recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. Then, you can fix the error in different ways without worrying about data loss.