Hard Drive Not Showing Up On Mac

Because of their use of non-standard interfaces, Apple computers are very demanding on various external and internal devices. Compatibility of connectors, the right drive file system, compatibility, standards, and more are important for the stable operation of hard drives on your Mac. It often happens when a new hard drive is not showing up on Mac. This can happen if you have bought a new SSD drive and are installing it instead of the HDD (this is available on Macs before 2012), or if you have decided to connect an external hard drive to a newer Apple computer.

What to do if my hard drive is not showing up on Mac? Read this tutorial to the end and find out the answer to that question!

What to Do If MacBook Does Not See the External Hard Drive or Internal Drive?

If the Mac stops seeing the external hard drive, in most cases the problem can be solved with software tools. In most cases, the problem is caused by the file system. However, the problem can be hardware-based. For example, SSDs sometimes break because of a short circuit or power failure. In such a case, you may need to service SSD replacement and installation on your MacBook.

But first, let’s find out what hard drive formats are available and how to choose the right one. The wrong drive format can cause a hard drive not to show up in a Mac.

The macOS supports several methods of transferring data at once. The easiest method of communication between two computers (for example, between a MacBook and a Windows PC) is through sharing. When you work on the same network, you can access any Finder computer. To complete this, you’ll need to select the desired system in the Share window and connect to the computer using the PC administrator’s username and password.

If you need to transfer data from an external drive, you need to consider the specifics of macOS when working with common file systems:

  • NTFS — Full support for Windows (Mac will be able to read, but won’t be able to write data);
  • ExFAT — Full support for Mac and Windows, but macOS won’t be able to use the drive for backups;
  • HFS+ — Full support for Mac, but Windows won’t see the drive.

NTFS and ExFAT are the most common standards, allowing Mac owners to read data from these media. If you need to write data to an NTFS drive, you can use one of the third-party driver utilities.

How Do I Format the Hard Drive On My MacBook?

You can format the drive to your preferred standard using the standard macOS/Windows tools. Note that the new hard drive or flash drive will not appear in the Finder until you convert it to one of the supported file systems.

To format the drive, we will need Disk Utility (found in the Mac’s preinstalled programs folder). Launching the program, you will find a window with a list of partitions, among which will be the new unformatted disk. Clicking on the name of the desired drive will take you to the information section. We are interested in the Erase tool at the top of the screen.

hard drive not showing up on mac

As soon as you click this button, you will see a window with formatting options. Here you should set the name of the disk and select the file system (in our case ExFAT is best). Clicking on the “Erase” button in the bottom-right corner of the window will start the formatting process.

my hard drive is not showing up mac

In the disk utility, you will see an unformatted hard disk connected. Format it to the desired format, which is optimal for your Mac. If the attached drive does not show up in the Disk Utility, you should check the connectors and compatibility. You may need to reset the SMC.

How to Choose the Right Hard Drive For Your MacBook?

When selecting a drive, the first thing to consider is the specifics of your specific device. For example, an external hard drive for the MacBook Air and early Pro can be selected with any of the available interfaces (USB-A, Thunderbolt, and, in some cases, FireWire) in mind. And the 2016 MacBook Pro external hard drive should ideally have Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C support, or you’ll have to deal with adapters.

Note that an SSD module or external hard drive for the 2011-2012 MacBook Pro can work with Thunderbolt 1, which will provide 10 Gbps speeds. Keep this in mind, so you don’t overpay for higher performance SSDs, for which connector speeds can be a bottleneck.

Alternatively, the MacBook’s external hard drive can be installed in the device in place of the regular optical drive. You will need a special adapter cage for this, and the drive itself must be formatted 2.5″ or mSATA (for SSDs).


Mac owners may at any time encounter the fact that their computer is not displaying an external or internal hard drive. This happens with different brands of devices. For example, often WD (Western Digital), Samsung or Seagate hard drive not showing up in Mac. In this case, you need to try to perform a few actions, which we described in our article.

  1. Make sure that the device has been selected correctly, and the Mac supports the drive form factor.
  2. Format the new hard drive according to the supported mac format of the year.
  3. Reset the SMC (System Management Controller) if formatting does not help.

If the external or internal drive is still not readable by the Mac, the cause may be a hardware failure.

Cyril Kardashevsky

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