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Step-by-step Guide to Fix External Hard Drive Not Showing up on MacBook Air/Pro

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Accidents can happen when you connect your external hard drive with MacBook Air/Pro. If you are urgent to use the disk to transfer files, modify documents, or do any other things, you may need this step-by-step guide to make your external HDD visible on MacBook Air/Pro.

How to fix External Hard Drive Not Showing up on MacBook Air/Pro

To get rid of the trouble that you can’t see your external HDD on Mac, here’s what you can do.

Solution 1: Check the connection of the external HDD

Be it a Seagate, WD, or Samsung external hard disk, they all get connected with your MacBook through USB cables and ports. So, remember to make sure the USB cable and port are not water-damaged, worn out, or dusty. Also, every time you plug the disk in, you should do it tightly.

Desktop external HDDs, such as Seagate Backup plus and WD Elements Desktop, require the external charge. Confirm they are connected to the power socket before putting them in use.

Solution 2: Make sure there are no incompatible applications with the disk

Some incompatible apps may prevent your disk from being loaded. They could be a USB security app, an encryption program, or any antivirus software. To check whether they are the culprits, you can boot into Safe Mode to confirm. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Restart your Mac.

Step 2: Immediately press and hold the Shift key, and then release the Shift key when you see the login window.

Step 3:  Reconnect the external hard drive to your MacBook Air/Pro and see if it is recognized in Safe mode. If the external hard drive is recognized by macOS, it means the third-party software is responsible for the trouble. 

To further confirm which software it is, you can boot into Verbose mode to have a closer look. After that, you can uninstall the suspicious programs that you download recently.

Solution 3: Check if the external HDD is set to show on MacBook Air/Pro

Sometimes your MacBook Air/Pro does detect and recognize your hard disk, but it hides the disk. Why? By default, MacBook Air/Pro is set to show all detected disks. However, the setting may be modified by accident. To make the external hard drive show on Mac, you can change the computer settings by doing this:

Show the external hard drive on the desktop: Go to Finder > Preferences > General tab and tick “External disks” to make external hard drives show on the desktop.

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

Are you able to see the external disk now? if not, you can try your luck in the following solution.

Solution 4: Find access to the external HDD by /Volumes/ Folder

Most of the time, Mac will show all recognized and mounted devices under the /Volumes/ Folder. How to find your drive there?

Step 1: Launch Finder and click Go in the top menu bar > Go to folder.

Step 2: Type /Volumes/ and hit Enter.

Step 3: Then you can see the volumes folder that lists all mounted drives and disk images. If your external hard drive is listed, congratulations!


External hard drive not showing up on MacBook Air/Pro is not a big issue. With multiple solutions, such as checking the connection, removing incompatible software, and resetting the computer settings, you can always have a way to fix this issue.