Once connected to your Mac, your external hard drive should be visible on your desktop or in the Finder sidebar. Incorrect connections, malfunctioning system components, or an unidentified file system can occasionally be a reason for a missing external drive on a Mac. 

Additionally, it can be brought on by your hidden settings. If unsure where to begin, adhere to the detailed instructions below. You can find various steps for finding an external hard drive not showing up. Below mentioned are the solutions for finding a missing external drive on Mac:

Restart your Mac

Perhaps there aren’t any issues with the USB ports and cords. External hard drives for Mac cannot be detected due to a transient issue or a sluggish operating system. Occasionally, the operating system may inspect the disc before it entirely mounts. 

You can wait a moment and unplug the external hard drive. After that, try restarting your Mac and carefully plugging the external hard drive back in to see if it appears in the Finder this time. If not, attempt the following fix.

Verify the Connecting Cable 

Making sure it is connected is the most important thing to do, although there is a chance the cable causes the problem. A primary cause of drives failing to mount is insufficient power being accepted by the drive. 

Older Mac versions need a USB power cord that splits into two USB ports to supply the disc with enough power. Try using a different cable with the drive to see if that resolves the problem. Furthermore, make sure the problem isn’t with your Mac’s port. Connect to a different port.

Try Another Device for the Power Supply

If your Mac cannot detect an external hard drive using any cable, there may be a hardware issue with your computer. Another Mac or Windows device might be used. The disc uses a format incompatible with MacOS if the Windows computer only detects the external drive. 

If the drive functions well on another Mac, you will rule out the drive itself as the source of the issue. If not, something else is happening.

Set a password

When you first use a drive, you can set a password to safeguard it, so investigate if that is the cause of the drive not mounting. A password request box may have appeared. Your Apple hard drive should have a password for security purposes. Make sure your password is secure.

Use terminal app

The terminal app is typically too complex for everyday users, so they only use it as a last resort. It helps resolve difficulties such as a Mac failing to detect an external hard drive, as it frequently gives you more power than the macOS front end. 

Change the drive format

The drive may be formatted with a file system that the Mac cannot read, or it may be seriously damaged. If the latter is the case, it is advised to follow this guide for data recovery from a damaged disc. If your Mac cannot repair the disc, the probability is high.

It is possible that an alternative file system was used during the hard drive’s formatting. If so, you must first connect your drive to a Windows computer that recognizes it to view its data. 

Engage disk utility

When your iMac or MacBook cannot detect external discs, Disc Utility is frequently the best solution for various Mac issues. Inspecting Macs for partitions and running further tests throughout the system, can assist in gaining access to and fixing some disc problems. 

Try plugging it in slowly

External drives may connect and perform better if you plug them in more slowly. This is because of the way certain USB drives power up. Your USB connector’s power contacts are longer because they are made to make contact with the USB port first. 

When plugged in gradually, the USB device receives electricity, which gives it more time to initialize. This guarantees that everything happens in the right order, which mounts your hard disc. This could be why your Mac occasionally detects an external disc, but only sometimes.

Try a different drive

To isolate the issue, try plugging in a separate Apple external hard drive if you have exhausted all the preceding suggestions and MacOS is still not recognizing your external disc. If a different disc is detected, the issue may lie with the drive itself.

Also Read: Best External Hard Drive for Mac in 2024

Wrapping it up

Ensure the disc is correctly unmounted after using your external drive to prevent damage later. Don’t simply unplug the USB connector. You can select Eject by right-clicking on the drive icon in the Finder or on the Desktop to unmount it. 

External hard drive data recovery has become essential for carefully maintaining data in all organizations. Improper disc ejection occurs when a drive is removed, leading to most drive problems.