Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips

External Hard Drive Not Showing up on Mac Monterey, How to Fix It?

Updated on Wednesday, May 11, 2022

iBoysoft author Anna Yuan

Written by

Anna Yuan
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Connie Yang

External Hard Drive Not Showing up on Mac Monterey, How to Fix It?

Summary: It tells how to fix external hard drive not showing up on Mac Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, or earlier. In addition, you can free download iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to recover your files from the unrecognized external disk.

fix external hard drive not showing up on Mac

Usually, when you connect an external hard drive to your Mac, it will show up on the desktop or at least in Finder. But this time, the connected external hard drive isn't showing up on Mac, even on your newly installed macOS 12 Monterey. Why?

Take it easy and follow our guide to find out the reasons and check the connections, macOS settings, and the external hard disk. Then, the external hard drive will show up on your Mac again.

Table of Contents:

Why is my external hard drive not showing up on Mac

Most of the time, Mac won't recognize external hard drives because of the hard drive corruption and faulty connections. But other factors can make external hard drives invisible on Mac as well.

The causes for external hard drives, USB pen drives, and SD cards not showing up on Mac vary from case to case. Namely, they are:

  • The USB cable is broken.
  • The USB port malfunctioned.
  • The USB adapter is not working properly.
  • The external hard disk is not formatted incorrectly.
  • The hardware and software like the disk driver need an update.
  • The file system of the external hard drive is corrupted.

As a result, you plug the external hard drive into your Mac but nothing happens. It looks like that Mac is not reading your external hard drive. You can't find external drive on Mac desktop or in the Finder. But this doesn't necessarily mean your Mac won't recognize external hard drive.

Can't find external drive on Mac, what to do

How to fix external hard drive not showing up on Mac:

  1. Check the connections
  2. Edit Finder Preferences
  3. Boot into Mac Safe Mode
  4. Check the drive in Disk Utility

As aforementioned, sometimes, a hard drive not showing up on Mac is caused by an unrecognized file system. Or, it is triggered by your hidden settings. If you don't know where to start, just follow the below step-by-step guide to find and access external hard drive on your Mac.

Fix 1: Check the connections of the external hard drive

External hard drives like Buffalo MiniStation, WD, Samsung, Seagate, and Lacie are connected to Mac using USB cables and ports. But if the connection fails, your external drive won't be recognized in macOS Monterey.

So, if you can't find external drive on Mac, check if the external hard disk is properly connected by the following steps.

1. Restart Mac and replug the external drive in slowly

Perhaps, there are no problems with the USB cables and ports. The temporary bug or slow reaction of the operating system can prevent the external drive from being detected by your Mac.

You can unplug the external drive and wait a moment. Then, restart your Mac and slowly replug the external drive into your Mac to check if it shows up in your Finder this time. If still not, try the next solution.

2. Ensure the drive cable has sufficient power

An external hard drive requires electricity to light up, spin, and transfer data. So, if the external hard disk is lack power, it won't show up on Mac. You can do these things to check the power supply.

  • For desktop external hard drives like Seagate Backup plus and WD Elements Desktop, make sure the external hard drive is externally connected to a power socket.            
    external hard drive not showing up due to lack of power
  • For portable USB external hard drives, make sure the USB ports are not wobbly, dusty, loose, or deformed since dirty or loosely connected USB ports can create short currents and lead to external hard drive not showing up on Mac. If one USB port won't work and can't supply enough power, you can try a different USB port. 
    show the external hard drive on Mac with proper USB connections

If you are working on MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models, two things to notice.

First, make sure your Mac is not in a low-power mode. External hard drives can't work if there is not enough power in the USB ports.

Show Thunderbolt external drives for Mac on MacBook Air

Then, make sure the USB hub and USB-C adapter work if your Mac uses Thunderbolt 3 port. Though an authentic USB Type C adapter is better, it lessens problems if you connect the Thunderbolt portable hard drive for Mac directly to your Mac.

3. Change a USB cable

The broken USB cable will block the external drive from establishing connections with your Mac. You can try to change a compatible cable and replug your external hard disk.

4. Check the USB port

Maybe the Mac's USB port is damaged, so, the external drive like a Seagate hard drive is not recognized by Mac. You can try to connect the external hard drive to another Mac's USB port.

Besides, check the USB ports on the hard drive enclosure case. Sometimes, the external drive is not showing up due to a problematic SATA connection. So if necessary, you can ask for help from specialists to open the external hard drive case and have a check.

5. Send the external drive for repair

Connect another external hard drive to your MacBook, Mac mini, or so. If it can show up and work on your Mac, it indicates the external hard drive that's not showing up on Mac is already damaged. You can send it to a local repair center.

Moreover, some Mac users said that the external hard drive can't be detected after installing macOS 12 Monterey. You can update the drivers in the App store. But in most cases, you need to ask Apple's developer for help from their official site.

Fix 2: Edit your preferences to display external drives

Sometimes, the external hard drive is not showing up because your Mac is not set to do. If you can't find external drive on Mac, you can get Finder to locate the external hard drive.

To make external HDD show up on the desktop and in the Finder window of macOS Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, or earlier, the following steps would be helpful.

Step 1: Go to Finder > Preferences > General tab and select "External disks" to make external hard drives show on the desktop.            
Show external hard drive on Mac

Step 2: Go to Finder > Preferences > Sidebar and make sure the "External disks" under "Locations" is ticked. Then your external hard drive will appear in Finder.            
Show external hard drive in Finder

Step 3: Go to Desktop/Finder and check if your external hard drive is showing up. If not, download, and install a data recovery app on your Mac, and then check if your external hard drive is showing up in this data recovery app.

Step 4: If your external hard drive is showing up in the app, follow the wizard to recover data and then format an external hard drive.            
If your external hard drive is not showing up, either, send it to an expert for reparation.

Fix 3: Boot your Mac in Safe Mode

Chances are that some programs are stopping your external hard drive from being loaded on Mac. Those incompatible programs could be the USB security app, encryption program, or any antivirus software that you installed recently. In this case, you can try to boot into Mac Safe Mode, which only runs essential macOS items.

  1. Restart your Mac (some Mac computers play a startup sound).
  2. Immediately press and hold the Shift key, and then release the Shift key when you see the progress indicator.
  3. After the restart, reconnect your external disk to the Mac and see if it is detected.            
    If the external hard drive is recognized by macOS in Safe Mode, you should start your Mac in normal mode and then uninstall the suspicious programs that you download recently.

Fix 4: Check if the external drive is showing up in Disk Utility

If you've tried the above ways to check and fix the connection issues but still can't find external drive on Mac Finder window, go to Disk Utility.

Disk Utility can show up all the macOS-detected internal and external hard drives on your Mac, even if it has some minor problems. You can open Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility to check if macOS Monterey is picking up the external drive.

 Note: If your external fusion drive is not showing up on Mac, you can check if it is recognized as two separate drives by macOS in Disk Utility also.

Commonly, there are two possible circumstances:

Case 1: The external drive shows up in Disk Utility but is not mounted

If the external disk can be found in Disk Utility, it means that your external hard drive is detected by your Mac. But since you can't see and open your hard drive like usual, we need to do some fixes in Disk Utility.

1. Manually mount the external hard drive in Disk Utility

The external drive usually can be auto-mounted when it's connected to the Mac. But if the OS fails to mount it at that time, you can try to mount it manually in Disk Utility.

  1. Expand the View option and choose Show All Devices.
  2. Find and select the external hard drive that is not showing up on your Mac.
  3. Choose Mount at the top menu bar.

After the drive is mounted, you can go to Finder to access it. Sometimes, you may see no partition showing up in Disk Utility but only the manufacturer's name like WD and Seagate appears.

This means the partition table (A unit of data describing the partition information on the hard disk) is damaged or lost. As a result, macOS is unable to recognize the external hard drive. In this situation, you're advised to run First Aid in Disk Utility to see if it can be repaired.

2. Run First Aid to check the external hard drive

If this external hard drive is not mounting on Mac with Disk Utility's Mount feature, the external drive may be corrupted or have some directory structure problems.

Whatever, you can run First Aid to check and repair disk.

  1. Open Disk Utility.
  2. Choose the grayed-out external disk from the left sidebar.
  3. Click the First Aid button on the top and then choose Run to confirm this operation.            
    Repair not recognized external hard drives in Disk Utility

3. Reformat your external hard drive

If Mac is unable to recognize the external hard drive still or First Aid failed to repair the external hard drive, the file system or some core data is too corrupted to be repaired by First Aid. Here are some error reports you might receive after running First Aid in Disk Utility:

In this case, you have to reformat it to assign a new file system to this drive to fix external hard drive not showing up on Mac Monterey.

Besides, if the external disk is formatted with an unrecognizable file system, like Linux EXT3 and EXT4, the only solution is to reformat it to make it compatible with your Mac.

However, as mentioned before, reformatting will clean the external hard drive and erase all the data stored on it. If you don't have any backup and fear losing the data, recover files from the corrupted external hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac first.

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is powerful in hard drive data recovery, sd card recovery, and USB drive recovery from macOS Monterey to OS X 10.9. It's also capable of recovering lost data from unreadable, unmountable, corrupted, and formatted drives.

To recover data and reformat the corrupted external hard drive:

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on Mac, and then restart the computer.

When an external hard drive is not showing up normally on Mac due to disk corruption, all the data stored on the drive becomes a great concern. To access external hard drive on Mac and recover your files from it, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is a handy tool to help.

Step 2: Scan for lost data on the external hard drive.

After launching this program, check if you can see the unrecognizable/corrupted external hard drive listed in the main interface. If you can see it, click on Scan to search for your files on this hard drive. If not, you need to send it to the data recovery lab.            
Recover lost data from not showing up the external hard drive on Mac

Step 3: Preview the searching results, choose the files you need and click Recover to get them back.

When you can't open the external disk drive and access files normally on your Mac, you can use the Preview feature of iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to see your files. It helps to make sure that your documents, photos, music files, videos, and emails are in good condition.            
Access and view data that is not showing up on the external hard drive

Step 4: Open Disk Utility and locate the external hard drive from the left sidebar of the window.

Step 5: Select this unrecognizable external disk and click the Erase button.

Step 6: Complete the related information (name, format, scheme), if you want to make sure your drive is compatible with Windows PC and Mac, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is probably the best option. Then click Erase to reformat the problematic external hard drives in Disk Utility.

Case 2: The external hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility

1. Force quit fsck in Activity Monitor

If the external hard drive doesn't show up in Disk Utility, you can check if the Mac has detected and recognized its hardware information in System Information: Go to Applications > Utilities > System Information > USB. And then check the external hard drive information.

Check not showing up external drive in System Information

If you see the external hard drive showing up there but not in Disk Utility, the hard drive may be under repair by macOS. Go and check it in the Mac Task Manager - Activity Monitor.

  1. Click the Launchpad and find the Other folder. Find and open Activity Monitor there.
  2. Type and search if there is any process named "fsck_hfs" or something similar. (If your external hard drive is exFAT formatted, then it should be "fsck_exfat".)
  3. Select that task and click the X button at the upper left to force quit it. and Then the external hard drive should show up on the desktop of your Mac.

If the parameters of the external hard drive are not recognized correctly or even not recognized, the external disk drive is damaged. You can go to a local repair center for some help.

2. Reset NVRAM & SMC

Nevertheless, what if the external hard drive is not showing up in Mac's Disk Utility at all? It should be some hardware problems that stop the external hard drive from showing up on Mac. Don't worry! You can check and repair those problems with the following solutions.

Reset your Mac's NVRAM

NVRAM is helpful to retain the information while power is turned off. If you experience issues related to these settings or others, resetting NVRAM might be helpful to get your Mac to recognize the external hard drive.

  1. Shut down or reboot your Mac.
  2. Immediately press these four keys in a sequence: Command + Option + P + R.
  3. Hold the keys for at least 20 seconds and after you hear the second chime, release the buttons.
  4. After releasing the keys, your Mac will restart and hopefully, your drive will show up.

Reset the SMC on your Mac

In certain circumstances, resetting SMC can be a solution because System Management Controller (SMC) is responsible for lower-level functions like power and hardware.

 Note: The method of resetting SMC is varied on different Mac models, so check and know how to reset the SMC on your Mac.

Let's take resetting the SMC of a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro Retina, or MacBook Pro with an internal non-removable battery as an example:

  1. Shut down your MacBook Air/MacBook Pro.
  2. Connect the power adapter to the Mac.
  3. After your Mac shuts down, press Shift + Control + Option on the left side of the built-in keyboard, then press the power button at the same time. Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds.
  4. Release all keys and the power button at the same time. Then press the power button again to turn on your Mac, which would take a little time.

3. Update software

If your Mac uses macOS 10.12 or earlier but the external hard drive is APFS (Apple File System) formatted, this could result in Mac not recognizing external hard drive. You are advised to update your macOS. Then, your Mac can work with the latest file systems, software, and some firmware relating to USB peripherals and devices.

To update macOS, you should:

  1. Right-click the Apple logo at the top right, and then choose System Preferences.
  2. Find and open Software Update to check for new macOS updates.
  3. Back up your important files and follow the wizard to update your operating system.

4. Run Mac diagnostics to detect hardware issues

Apple Diagnostics is a set of diagnostic tools used by technicians to find Mac hardware faults. You can use it to confirm or deny your suspicions. It is advised to disconnect all the external devices except the keyboard, mouse, and other useful devices before starting running Apple Diagnostics. If the external disk drive has been physically damaged, you have to send it to the local disk repair center.

  1. Reboot your Mac or you can power on your Mac if it powers off.
  2. Press and hold the D button on your keyboard. Hold the button until you would be asked to choose the language.
  3. After selecting your language, it will display a progress bar stating Checking your mac.            
    starting checking Mac with Apple Diagnostics
  4. After completing the diagnostics, it will give you some possible solutions for the errors diagnosed.            
    Apple Diagnostics results regarding this Mac

If you think the above information to fix external hard drive not showing up on Mac is too much for you, alternatively, you can watch this video to fix the external SSD not showing up on Mac issue. It is more direct and intuitive than the pale text tutorial.

 Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing up on Mac 

Final thoughts about the external hard drive not showing up on Mac

It's relatively complicated to check out why is an external hard drive not showing up, recognized, or detected by macOS. If you worry about data loss in this process, you can recover all important data from the external hard drive first with the assistance of iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

Moreover, to prevent an external hard drive not showing up on macOS, it's advised to properly eject or connect your external drives at any time. Besides, always backing up critical files on another drive or in the cloud would help a lot.

FAQs regarding the external hard drive not showing up on Mac


First, you need to open Finder. Move to the top menu bar and click Finder > Preferences. Then, tick on the External disks option under the General tab on the Finder Preferences window.


In the first place, you should check the connections, including the external hard drive, USB cable, and ports. Then, try to replug the external drive and restart your Mac, update the disk driver, check the disk format, reformat the external drive, or apply for a repair.