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Access your an external disk or USB that does not appear on your Mac

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Connecting an external hard drive to your Mac’s USB port and accessing the stored content there should be a very simple process. In a few seconds it will appear on your desktop and you can open the folder with all your files, photos and videos.

If it is not and you can not find it in the column on the left side of your finder, just below the title of ‘Devices‘, you may start to suspect that something is wrong. Fortunately, we know how to solve this problem and access external storage that is not recognized by your Apple Computer or Laptop.

In the event that this happens, you should follow the steps given below. If you do not solve the problem, then unfortunately you should consider purchasing a new external hard drive.

Step 1. Check the configuration of your Mac

First of all, you should take a look at the configuration of your finder, because the option to prevent the external connected memory from being displayed on the desktop can not be selected.

In this sense, open your Finder folder, click on the Finder tab of the upper toolbar, click on ‘Preferences‘ and open the ‘General‘ section of the new floating window. Finally, check that the option ‘external disk’ has been selected.

Step 2. Verify that the external disk is properly connected

Although it may seem obvious, this Mac is worth disconnecting and reconnecting the external hard drive. Often, the problem is that it is not properly plugged and therefore it does not get the necessary power to operate.

In addition, you should check whether your computer requires that you have two USB cables capable of using that external memory – some older models need it – or if the hard disk is also plugged in power should be done.

Step 3. Check that the USB cable is not defective

On the other hand, it is important to make sure that the USB cable that connects external memory to the Mac is not damaged. If so, this may be the reason that the computer detects it.

If the cable is in bad condition or you suspect that there is a problem, then we recommend trying to use one more cable compatible with your Mac and the external hard drive you want to use.

Step 4. Check that your Mac’s USB port works

If the problem is not with the USB cable, what may not really work is the USB port of your Mac or MacBook. You can try connecting the memory to another port or plugging another device into the one that does not detect it.

Step 5. Connect the external memory to another computer

Another way to check whether the external hard drive is broken or not is to plug it into another Mac or MacBook. If it does not detect it either, try connecting it to the PC. Probably the problem is that this memory is only compatible with Windows.

Step 6. Access the ‘Disk Utility’ of your Mac

It is possible that the external discs did not appear on the desktop or in the ‘Devices’ section of your Finder, but Mac itself detected it. If this is the case, to see it, you will have access to the ‘disk utility’ of your computer.

You can simply use Spotlight to search and find this program, or open your ‘Finder‘ folder, select ‘Applications‘ on the left, double click on the ‘Utilities’ folder and finally ‘Disk Utilities‘ find out.

Once you have opened the program, you should see if it appears in the list on the left side. If so, click on external storage and click on ‘mount’. If you can not click on this option, that means you do not have access to the disk.

Step 7. Repair the hard drive from ‘Disk Utility’

In the event of not being able to mount the hard disk, you will have the possibility of choosing from these three options:

  • First Aid‘, to check the errors on the disk and to solve them if possible
  • Restore‘ to erase all saved data on disk and replace them with others stored on another device
  • ‘Delete’ to permanently delete information from your hard drive

Step 9. Format the external memory

There are many types of file systems. While Windows computers use NTFS, MacOS uses Mac, HFS + before Sierra. To make it more complicated, Apple has introduced a new Apple file system.

Now, it is possible to format the disc so that it can be read on both Windows and Mac devices using XFat or FAT32. If you suspect that your memory uses any other system, then connect it to a compatible computer and make a backup copy.

Step 10. Avoid problems with your memory in the future

Looking forward, it is advisable to follow some precautionary measures so that this kind of problem does not happen again. Thus, always run the disc before disconnecting from the Mac, because not doing this is usually the main reason for broken external memories.


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