What to Do If External SSD Not Showing Up on MacBook?

MacBook of various models used mostly HDDs until 2012. But in 2021, SSDs aren’t relevant. After all, there are more powerful and high-speed SSD drives that speed up your MacBook several times over. In models of Apple computers before 2012, you can replace the HDD with an SSD and install the operating system macOS on the new drive. However, some users face the problem of external SSD not showing up in Mac. We have figured out this problem and are ready to share with you a few ways to solve it. Read to the end and find out what to do if new SSD not showing up on Mac.

Formatting an SSD on Your MacBook

Some users decide to upgrade their MacBook with an HDD drive and install a faster SSD there. If you don’t use a new SSD, there’s a good chance that it won’t be readable by your MacBook from the beginning. The problem arises from improper formatting. Windows and macOS drives must be formatted differently. Otherwise, you will notice SSD not showing up in disk utility mac.

Follow these steps to format an SSD for macOS:

  1. Plug the drive into your Mac computer.
  2. Launch the Disk Utility app through the Dock, then open Launchpad, Applications, and Others.
  3. Select the drive on the left side of the screen.
    ssd not detected mac
  4. Click the “Erase” tab at the top of the window.
    external ssd not showing up mac
  5. Select “Format” ExFAT or APFS.
  6. Click the “Erase” again.

ssd not showing up in disk utility mac

Check which SSD format is specified in the parameters. If it states APFS or ExFAT, you will not be able to format it. This format is correct and that is not the cause of the problem.

In most cases, this solves the problem of SSD not showing up in Disk Utility.

Are you not sure how to open the Disk Utility? Follow the simple instruction:

  1. Click the Finder icon on the Dock.
  2. Find and click to open Applications in the left pane of the Finder.
    internal ssd not showing up in disk utility
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Applications window to find, click and open Utilities.
    new ssd not showing up mac
  4. Find and click to open Disk Utility.

What to Do if Time Machine Does Not See the SSD

Some users experience the internal SSD not showing up in disk utility. That is, the operating system can run on the drive, but it does not show up in Time Machine.

If your MacBook Pro does not see the SSD or gives you an error when you try to make a backup, the file system compatibility may also be an issue. In the case of Time Machine, however, things are a bit more complicated. Although macOS fully supports working with the ExFAT format, the native backup utility can only work with HFS+ and the new APFS.

new ssd not showing up in disk utility

Note that the Time Machine partition must be used exclusively. If you want to avoid occupying the entire drive with backups, you should partition the drive into two (or more) partitions, one of which will be formatted in HFS+. You will then be able to make full use of one of the partitions on your drive that is formatted to HFS+.

Hardware Issues and Compatibility

There are cases where formatting the SSD drive does not resolve the problem. Still on Mac SSD not showing up. In that case, the cause may be a faulty cable or connector on the casing of your Apple computer.

However, mechanical damage is not the only source of the problem. If your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro doesn’t see the SSD drive connected through an adapter, the problem may be an incompatible interface standard.

  • Early MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Pro Retina do not support more recent models and M.2 PCIe drives
  • Late MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina do not support older, mSATA, and M.2 SATA drives

The problem is compounded by the fact that standard devices, including drives and adapters, under M.2 can be made in either SATA- or PCIe-versions. This makes selecting compatible components much more difficult. Even if your drive’s connector is compatible with your adapter’s, using a different standard will prevent the system from detecting the drive.

The only way to solve this problem is to purchase a drive that is compatible with your computer. For the MacBook Pro and Air before 2013, as well as early MacBook Pro Retina drives from late 2012 to early 2013, you should choose SATA-compatible drives, while newer computers will only work with PCIe-based drives. Alternatively, you can pick up an external adapter that allows you to use an incompatible drive as portable storage.


There are several reasons why an SSD drive is not showing up in Mac. In most cases, formatting the drive helps. If that doesn’t solve the problem, make sure you choose the right type of SSD. Also, try to use only quality storage units with high customer ratings.

Cyril Kardashevsky

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