What to do if your Mac does not recognize an external hard drive?

mac does not recognize external hard drive

Many opinions from both users and experts in the world of computing agree that MacOS is the most solvent and efficient operating system on the market. Apple has achieved that its system has much fewer incidents than its direct competitor, Windows. But this does not imply that it is free of errors and today we want to talk about one that can be quite common and the way to solve it. It's about that awkward situation where your Mac doesn't recognize an external hard drive. This is problematic, among other things, because we cannot access the information we need.

In this sense, we are going to review the causes that can generate this scenario and the possible solutions that we have at hand to solve it.

Why doesn't my Mac recognize an external hard drive?

The reasons why a Mac does not recognize an external hard drive can be very diverse and have their origin in different factors. Therefore, it is necessary that we carry out a problem solving process that allows us to find the cause quickly, to propose an appropriate solution immediately. The source of the problem between the Mac and the external drive may be in the device itself, cabling, or software aspects.

In this way, if you connect a new hard drive to your Mac and it does not recognize it, you should check that the cable is not damaged, that the drive is not defective and, on the other hand, that the file system is supported by the Apple operating system. Here are the steps to follow to find the source of the problem and give it a solution.

What you can do if Mac does not recognize the hard drive

Check the wiring

The first step in the process will be to check the cable with which we connect the disk to the computer. It may seem like a simple and obvious step, even more so when you have a newly purchased external drive, however, the results could give us real surprises. The cables of these devices are not exempt from factory problems or deteriorate over time. Therefore, it is important to verify that, indeed, it works correctly to continue to the next step.

To do this validation, it will suffice to connect another disk with the same cable.

Verify that the disk works

If the cable is in good condition and working correctly, then we have to look at the disk. The idea is to highlight that the problem is there and therefore, what you should do is connect the external drive to another computer, in order to check if it recognizes it.

Turn to Disk Utility

Disk Utility is a tool of the Mac operating systems whose purpose is the management and administration of the storage units that we connect. In this sense, from there we can obtain information about what is happening with the disk and even get help to solve it.

Open the Disk Utility from Launchpad and then check how it appears in the panel on the left side where the connected drives are displayed. If it appears disabled in light gray, it means that the system has not been able to mount or read the disk, so we will not be able to access the information. In this case, we can resort to another option of the Disk Utility, known as First Aid that will perform a scan and tell us what is happening and what we can do about it.

The file system

This is one of the most problematic and most relevant factors when a Mac does not recognize an external hard drive. The file system is the logical way in which the disk structures storage space in order to hold data and allow it to be read, as well as to manage information.. In that sense, if you have an external hard drive formatted with an unsupported file system, your computer will not recognize it. This is very common when trying to connect a disk that we use in Windows with NFTS format.

To fix this, you will need to format the external hard drive by selecting a file system supported by Mac like HFS+ or exFAT.. You can easily do this from Disk Utility, to do this:

  • Open the Disk Utility.
  • Select the external hard drive in the left pane.
  • Click on the tab «Delete«.
  • Select the format HFS + o exFAT.
  • Click on the option «Delete» to execute the format.

With these 4 steps, you can quickly find the source of the problem between your external drive and your Mac. The process is really simple and we must be very attentive to the file system, since, generally, these inconveniences are due to compatibility problems. Knowing that there are file systems for Mac, for Windows and also compatible with both, can help us understand much better how to deal with these situations.

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