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How to make an external drive show up in MacOS

Macs are very reliable and are often used in smaller, creative businesses. They are excellent but they do have quirks that take some working around sometimes. One such quirk is the fact that an external drive will often not show up in Finder or Disk Utility. Even if it’s an Apple external drive or you have used it fine before, there will be times when MacOS just won’t see it. If you back up to an external drive, which you should, this can be a problem.

We see a lot of Apple computers here at Computer Help in New Jersey and this ‘feature’ is one of the more popular questions we see. That’s why today I’m going to show you how to troubleshoot it yourself. We are always happy to fix your Mac but this might save you a little time and money.

Make sure MacOS is configured to see the external drive

For some reason, MacOS Mojave requires you set it up to see external disks. It’s a strange thing to have to do but there it is. If you haven’t manually enabled this setting, try it and see what happens.

  1. Select Finder and Preferences.
  2. Select the General tab.
  3. Toggle Hard disks and External disks to on under ‘Show these items on the desktop’.

You can also set it for Disk Utility.

  1. Open Finder and Applications.
  2. Select Utilities and Disk Utility.
  3. Select View and Show All Devices.

This should cause your external drive to show up and be accessible through MacOS. If you see the external drive is gray and not fully colored, you may need to mount or fix it. Right click the external drive in Disk Utility and select Mount. If the drive activates you’re good to go. If it stays gray, you’re not.

You will need to select the disk in Disk Utility and select First Aid. Then select Repair Disk and let the tool finish its work.

In the vast majority of cases, this is enough to make the drive show up in MacOS. If it doesn’t, you now need to find out if it’s the disk or the computer. The easiest way to do it is to connect the external drive to a different computer. If it shows up, the disk is likely fine and it’s a configuration issue on your Mac. If the drive doesn’t show up, it could be a problem with the drive.

If it seems like it’s your Mac, perform an OS update or research further. If it’s your drive, try First Aid again otherwise it’s a format or replacement. I wouldn’t do either of those without further checks though.

Any problems with this, bring your Mac or drive to Computer Help in New Jersey. We would be happy to help!

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