What to do if your Mac doesn't recognize an external hard drive

MacBook USB

Do you connect an external storage drive to your Mac and it doesn't recognize it? It is possible that with some of the solutions that we give you, the problem will disappear. Now, it is also very possible that none of them work and you really have a problem with the expansion ports of your computer or that the storage medium is defective. We will try to give you several solutions; some of them very simple, but there are occasions that the most obvious is the first thing we discard. If you connect a hard drive or USB memory to your Mac and nothing happens, the solutions can be as follows.

The USB cable is not working properly

One of the first steps that you should check is if any physical element is faulty in the steps. It seems silly, but on many occasions - especially when we refer to battery charges - the cable with which we try to feed and read the data does not work. So that, try to connect this hard drive to another computer and rule out that the USB cable is the element that fails. We understand that if it is a USB memory, this step should be skipped.

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You do not have the display of external disks in Finder enabled

available items Finder bar

You connect the external hard drive or USB memory and check that it does get power because the indicator LEDs work. Before continuing with the next step, it is best to verify that the Mac does indeed recognize the device. So for this we go to «Finder», we go to the menu bar and we are interested in the option «Go». Then we mark the option «Go to the folder ...» and In the dialog box that appears, we must write the following:

/ Volumes /

If it returns results and our external hard drive or USB memory appears on the screen, the reason you do not see them on the screen is what we tell you below.

Another reason why it is impossible for you to see anything from external storage elements on your Mac is that you do not have the correct option selected on your system. What do we mean by this? Well what a simple activation in Finder preferences and voila.

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Items visible on Mac desktop

That is, click on "Finder" in the Dock. Now go to the menu bar and click again on "Finder" and then on "Preferences". You will see that there are different tabs where to sting. Well, here it will depend on what you want as a final result. If you want to connect your external storage device to be displayed on the desktop, go to «General» and select the elements you want.

On the other hand, if you want it to appear in the Finder sidebar, choose the "Sidebar" option and check the options you want to be displayed in the "Devices" section.

Reset the System Management Control (SMC)

MacBook Pro open

Finally, if none of the above solutions have served you, it may be time to reset the system management controller, also known as SMC. With this step it is very possible that we will get our Mac to work again in conditions. Although on the Apple support page you have all the steps depending on the type of equipment you have, from Soy de Mas we advance them below:

MacBook laptops (MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Pro) without removable battery:

  • Select Apple menu> Shut Down
  • After your Mac shuts down, press the Shift-Control-Option keys located on the left side of the integrated keyboard, and at the same time press the power button. Hold down these keys and the power button for 10 seconds
  • Release the keys
  • Press the power button again to turn on the Mac

Desktops like iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro:

  • Select Apple menu> Shut Down
  • After your Mac shuts down, unplug the power cord
  • Wait 15 seconds
  • Reconnect the power cord
  • Wait five seconds, then press the power button again to start up your Mac

iMac Pro (different steps to a conventional iMac):

  • Select Apple menu> Shut Down
  • After the iMac Pro shuts down, press and hold the power button for eight seconds
  • Release the power button and wait a few seconds
  • Press the power button again to turn on the Mac Pro

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  1.   Hector said

    Hello, I formatted a hard disk from windows 7 with MACDRIVE 9 Pro, but when I put it in the Imac G5 (too old OS X Tiger) and run the installation disk it seems that it will work, but after a while it gets a circle in the center of the screen with a crossed line. Is the hard drive badly formatted? or what is missing?
    thanks for answering…

  2.   noe breton said

    hello I have a question I am new to this mac pro or apple and my question is; I have a mac pro 2015 and I want to use it for dj and the problem is that I have an external usb disk and when I connect it and put it to play, I don't get the videos of the songs, nothing else comes out of the audio and no video, I hope you understand me, thank you

  3.   James said

    Hello, it has been useful to me, I had a problem with a USB that did not work and I thought it was the USB until I read this article, thank you very much! I also found a program out there that was very useful for me to eliminate viruses and those annoying things that came out from time to time, adwcleaner is named.