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Fixed! Can't Rename External Hard Drive on Mac

Updated on Monday, May 13, 2024

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

Written by

Amanda Wong
Professional tech editor

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Jessica Shee

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Proven Methods for Can't Rename External Hard Drive on Mac

I have 2 external hard drives supplied by the same vendor. They both have the same name. Using them with the Mac is problematic when they have the same name. Time Machine, for example, tries to back up to the external drive with this name. I would like to simply change the name of one of these external hard drives. Neither Finder nor Disk Utility works for me. The name of the external drive is read-only in both applications.

Have you encountered the same issue when you try to rename the external hard drives on Mac? You may find the Rename option greyed out in the context menu, receive a "the name xx can't be used" error message on the screen, etc. If you can't rename the external hard drives on Mac, read this post for working fixes!

It is pretty easy to rename external hard drives on Mac. Here are there ways:

  • Head to Disk Utility, click View > Show All Devices, right-click the external hard drive and choose Rename.
  • On the Desktop, right-click the drive icon and choose Rename, or choose Get Info, and enter a wanted name under Name & Extensions.
  • Open Finder, select the target external hard drive, control-click, and choose Rename.

rename external hard drive mac

If you have any issues renaming external disks on Mac, keep reading to know how to solve it.

Why you can't rename external hard drives on Mac

There are some common reasons why you can't rename external hard drives on Mac:

  • The external hard drive is read-only such as Seagate external hard drive read-only on Mac. If the drive is formatted as NTFS, you can write data to it by default on Mac, given that macOS even the latest Ventura doesn't support NTFS writing.
  • You don't log into the Mac as an admin. Files, folders, and drives could be protected to be accessed only by the administrator on your Mac. Therefore, if you are not using an admin account, you may be prevented from renaming the drives on Mac.
  • The external hard drive is corrupted. A corrupted external hard drive could behave abnormally on your Mac, you may need to fix the corrupted external hard drive so that you can rename it successfully.
  • Rename the drive in the wrong format. Some file systems may have limitations on filename length or format. If the entered name is unsupported, then it returns the "the name xx can't be used" error.

cant rename external hard drive mac

How to fix can't rename external hard drives on Mac

After knowing the possible causes, now it's time to learn how to fix can't rename the external hard drive on Mac. Apply the following methods one by one until the issue gets solved.

Check the drive's file system

In case the drive is formatted with a file system that is not supported by macOS, you can't directly rename the external hard drive on Mac. You can check it via Get Info or in Disk Utility. APFS format and Mac OS Extended format are exclusive to macOS, exFAT and FAT32 are also compatible with macOS, but NTFS is read-only on Mac.

If the file system is NTFS, you can only read but not write it by default. If it is an empty drive, or there is no important data on it, you can directly format the external hard drive on Mac to get rid of the incompatibility, otherwise, you need to enable NTFS write on Mac in multiple ways. Among them, the NTFS drives for Mac iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is the easiest way to mount the drive in read-write mode. You can try it for free now!

Rename the drive correctly

Just as the error message tells "The name xx can't be used. Try using a name with fewer characters, or with no punctuation marks", you should follow the naming rules of the file format. Now, enter the drive in the correct format to say whether it works.

Change the drive permissions

When you can't write data to external hard drives, perhaps your account's privilege is set to be read-only, then you can't delete files on external hard drive on Mac, can't rename external hard drive on Mac, etc., change permissions on Mac can fix this issue.

  1. Click the drive on the Desktop or in Finder's sidebar and choose Get Info.
  2. Under Sharing & Permissions, change the privilege of your account to Read & Write. If you can't make the change, log into the Mac as an admin or contact with admin to change the permissions.
  3. Tick Ignore ownership on this volume if this option is available.

Repair the external hard drive

Disk errors on the external hard drive could be the culprit when you can't rename the drive on Mac. If so, you can run Disk Utility's First Aid to check and repair disks. After the disk errors are repaired, try to rename the drive again in Finder, desktop, or Disk Utility.

run first aid to check drive

Reformat the external hard drive

If all the methods above fail to help rename the external hard drive on Mac, it may get severely corrupted. The last resort is reformatting the disk to eliminate all logical errors. This will erase all contents, therefore you should backup the data before you proceed to reformat the disk.

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