What to do if Mac does not recognize external hard drive?

Using external drives on a computer is quite common given its usefulness, but, when it comes to hardware, these are no strangers to malfunctions. Mac computers are also among the affected computers, so it is convenient to know what can be done in case of this situation.


External hard drives are very useful tools for storing and transferring all kinds of data and can even be used as an OS boot source for a motherboard that does not have a drive installed. Furthermore, most HDDs have the advantage of being very convenient to carry around, as well as being quite practical for various applications.

However, this very portability of the disc, some internal problems in the computer or certain software problems can cause errors during its reading . Apple computers are no strangers to this problem, so their OS have virtual tools programmed with the ability to deal with these problems.

In this article we will review several of them, so that you can face the situation with the appropriate measures to obtain a quick and accurate diagnosis, which allows you to carry out the most convenient solution.

On the other hand, if it does not recognize the internal hard drive, the Macbook will show an error when trying to turn it on and will not go past that screen, but this problem already deserves a more in-depth analysis and, most likely, opening the computer to check that everything is connected correctly.


Methods to solve the problem

If you have found that your Mac does not read the external hard drive, you can start by checking its operation with the following methods, starting from the simplest to the most complex.

  •  USB Cable

When a Mac computer does not recognize USB or shows a flash drive not detected message, one of the simplest solutions is to try another USB port or alternatively, another cable. Although it may not seem like it, this simple action can solve most of the problems, even if the hard drive does not boot.

On the other hand, if the computer still doesn’t detect the removable hard drive even after using a new cable on a different port, we advise you to check if everything works on another computer. In the event that this is the case, you should now focus on the Mac computer.

  • MacOS Finder

Whether you need to format an external hard drive for Mac or check if it has been detected by the system, Finder is an OS tool that gives you access to other programs that might come in handy, such as Disk Utility.

Finder is displayed with the characteristic icon of a blue and white smiley face, and can be easily found in the taskbar , since it is anchored there by default.

When you run this program you will get a general view of your computer, including applications, connected drives, direct access, among other functions. However, by default an option is also configured that is responsible for hiding the external disks connected to the computer, so that the window is not overloaded with access to them.

To deactivate it, you will only have to launch the Finder and click on the Preferences section to open a new window with the configuration options. Here you can change the settings to see the external hard drives for Mac connected to the laptop at all times.

  • disk utility

One reason why the external hard drive is not showing up in disk manager might be due to connection issues with the USB port or the cable itself, but first, let’s learn how to access this feature of the Mac OS system.

We will start by launching Finder on the Mac computer. When it starts, a window will appear where you must locate a side menu and select the Applications option.

Inside Applications you will find a folder called Utilities, where the shortcut to run Disk Utility is usually stored . This program is responsible for showing the units that are installed and connected to the computer, so you should be able to see the name of your disk in the list.

In case you find it, but cannot do anything, it may not have been “mounted” correctly. To fix it, select the faulty drive and a series of options will appear at the top. Click Mount and verify that the problem is fixed.

In addition to this, you also have a tool available to repair an external hard drive on Mac through the First Aid option , which is responsible for checking the unit to try to eliminate small reading errors.

  • SMC Reset

SMC stands for “System Management Controller” and it is a chip soldered to the motherboard that is responsible for controlling simple functions of the computer, such as the recognition of a connected USB device. To reset this chip , you’ll need to perform a series of steps that vary depending on the type of Mac computer you have.

If it’s an iMac, you just need to shut it down normally and unplug it from the power source for 15 seconds, then plug it back in and start it up.

For Macbook models that have built-in batteries and no T2 chip, you will need to turn off the computer to turn it back on by pressing the following key combination for approximately 10 seconds: Left Shift + Left Ctrl + Left Fn + Power Button.

In case you have a Macbook computer with a T2 chip, like the others, turn it off completely and touch the following keys: Ctrl + Fn + Right Shift for 7 seconds, then press the power button for 7 more seconds and finish releasing all at the same time.


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