Can T Use Hard Drive On Mac

Sep 28, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

'How to format hard drive for Mac and PC? I want to resell my computers and would like to get rid of my data beforehand, but can't seem to format my system!'

Jun 25, 2021 If you still can’t access external hard drive, consider switching to another Mac. Hopefully, we’ve covered the topic so you don’t have to google “external hard drive disappear from the computer” ever again. There are lots of potential solutions for a Mac not reading/writing an external hard drive.

It doesn't matter what kind of situation you are in, it is important to learn how to format HDD for Mac and Windows. You might want to resell your system, get rid of something, or simply want to make more free space on it.

Why should you consider formatting your hard drive? You might already know the consequences of. Plug your HD into the Mac and open Disk Utility, which can be accessed by searching for it in Spotlight. Then, select your hard drive from the left sidebar. Now go to the Erase tab. Format Hard Drive (Mac) 1. Connect the external hard drive to the computer. Click Go on the top tool bar, and select Utilities. Open Disk Utility. Select the external hard drive on the left-hand side. Click the Partition tab. Change the Partition Layout from Current to 1 Partition. Transferring Data From a Mac to PC via an External Hard Drive. Mac OS X and Windows can both read and write to disks in the FAT or ExFat format. Because Mac OS X Mountain Lion does not natively.

While it might sound complicated, both Mac and Windows give us dedicated features to manage our disk space. You can use it to manage your storage, merge partitions, and even do a disk format for Mac and PC. In this post, we will cover dedicated solutions on how to format your hard drive in Mac and PC.

Part 1. Why should you consider formatting your hard drive?

You might already know the consequences of formatting a hard drive. It will erase all the data stored in it, making it empty in one go. Therefore, before you format Mac/PC drive, make sure that you have taken a backup of your important data. Once it is done, you can do a hard disk format for Mac and PC to enjoy the following advantages.

  • It will help you get rid of any sensitive data from your hard drive so that the other user can't access it.
  • Once the disk is formatted, it will make it empty and let you store new content on it. Therefore, you can consider formatting a partition if you are running low of space.
  • In case if the hard drive has been corrupted by a virus, then you can format it entirely to get rid of any malicious activity.
  • By formatting a partition, you can manage the storage on your PC/Mac and merge the free space with another sector as well.
  • It will automatically defragment the disk, which will let you reclaim the lost space on the storage unit.
  • You can also resolve any disk issue by formatting your hard drive.
  • After formatting a disk, you can reassign a file system to it, and make it compatible with your PC/Mac.

Part 2. Major Formats of Hard Drive for Mac and PC

Over time, more than a hundred different kinds of file systems and formats have been developed for Mac and PC hard drives. Though, here are some of the most commonly used and compatible formats.

  • exFAT: It stands for Extended File Allocation Table and is developed by Microsoft. The file system is mostly used to allocate space on external storage units like USB drives or SD cards.
  • NTFS: The New Technology File System is used by Windows NT operating systems. It is the common format for the native hard drive of the system and is equipped with tons of new-age memory allocation techniques.
  • FAT32: The File Allocation Table format is used to store data on units that have a capacity of more than 32 GB. It mostly works on external storage units like flash drives and is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
  • APFS: The Apple File System is the native technique for macOS, iOS, tvOS, and even watchOS. It provides high-end encryption and is a replacement for the age-old HFS+ system developed by Apple.

There are different other kinds of file systems that your hard drive can support. To check it, just select the partition or the external disk, right-click, and visit its 'Properties'. Go to the 'General' tab to know details about the file system of the disk.

Part 3. How to Format Hard Drive for Mac and PC on Windows?

If your Mac or PC has a Windows OS installed, then you won't face any trouble managing it. Every major version of the operating system provides a dedicated solution to format hard drive as well as external storage units. Also, you can manage the internal partitions, merge them, create new ones, and do so much more. Here's how to format hard drive on your Windows PC.

  1. First, you need to access the Disk Management tool on your Windows. To do this, just click on the Start menu and look for 'disk management'. Alternatively, you can also access it from the Control Panel.
  2. This will open a dedicated window for various disks on your system. Simply select a partition that you wish to format and right-click it. Choose the 'Format' option to proceed.
  3. As the formatting wizard will open, select the kind of file system that you wish to convert it to. For instance, it can be NTFS, exFAT, and so on.
  4. You can also allocate it to the relevant size or label it here as well. If you have less time, then you can choose to quickly format it by enabling the relevant option.
  5. In the end, you will get a confirmation prompt like this. Just click on the 'Format' or 'Yes' button and wait for a while as the disk would be formatted.

Important Note: Formatting an external device

Windows also let us format an external device like SD card, pen drive, etc. quite easily. Simply right-click its icon from My Computer and from the context menu, click on the 'Format' option. Choose a file type and formatting option and click on the 'Start' button to format the disk.

Part 4. How to Format Hard Drive for Mac and PC on Mac?

Just like Windows, macOS also gives us a seamless option to format the hard drives for Mac (and PC). The operating system has an inbuilt tool, which is known as Disk Utility. Using it, you can erase a hard drive, create new partitions, and even repair your disk as well. To learn how to format in Mac your hard drive, follow these steps:

  1. To start with, just go to Finder > Applications > Utilities to view all the available tools and features. From here, you can launch the Disk Utility application.
  2. Here, you can view all kinds of storage units available on your system (both internal and external). Simply go to the left panel and select the disk you wish to format.
  3. On the right, you can view details about the selected disk. Go to its toolbar and click on the 'Erase' option.
  4. This will display the following pop-up on the screen. You can give the partition/drive a label, select its partition scheme, and specify its file format as well.
  5. Click on the 'Erase' button in the end and confirm your choice as Mac would format the selected disk.

In no time, the entire disk would be emptied and you can manage it the way you like. You can follow the same drill to format an external device on Mac as well.

Part 5. How to Recover Formatted Hard Drive on Mac?

By following the above-listed methods, you would be able to format hard drive for Mac and PC seamlessly. Though, if you have formatted a hard drive accidentally, then you might end up losing your important files. In this case, you can take the assistance of Recoverit Data Recovery software to get back your lost or deleted content from Mac. The data recovery tool is available for free and supports all the major macOS and Windows versions. Following a simple on-screen process, you can easily extract your data from your Mac's hard drive or an external device.

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If you have deleted a partition on Mac or have lost it due to any other reason, then you should use Recoverit Data Recovery. It can help you restore partition data on Mac by following these easy steps.

Step 1: Select a Location

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Firstly, launch the Recoverit Data Recovery application on your Mac and from its home, pick a location. A list of all the available locations will be displayed. You can just pick a source and start the scan.

Format Hard Drive For Both Mac And Pc

Step 2: Scan the Location

This will commence the data recovery operation on the selected location. You simply need to wait for a few minutes for the scan to finish successfully.

Step 3: Preview and Recover

Once the process is completed, you can just preview the extracted data on Recoverit's interface. Make the needed selections and click on the 'Recover' button, so that you can save your files to a safe location.

Important Note:

If you are running the latest version of macOS, then you should consider disabling its System Integrity Protection feature first. This will allow third-party apps like Recoverit to access the partitions and file system on your Mac. Restart your Mac and press the Command + R keys to boot it in the Recovery mode. Launch the Terminal app by visiting the utility menu and enter the command: csrutil disable. In the end, restart your Mac in the normal mode and launch Recoverit again.

Part 6. Tips for Formatting Hard Drive

If you want to get positive results while formatting your hard drive on Mac or PC, then consider following these steps:

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  • Since formatting will erase all the existing data on your hard drive, make sure you have taken its backup beforehand.
  • When your system is formatting the drive, don't halt the process in between as it can make the storage unavailable.
  • As both Windows and Mac provide native solutions to format the hard drives, you should avoid using any unreliable third-party tool.
  • While formatting, you would be asked to pick a file system for the disk. Therefore, make sure that the file system is supported by your Mac or Windows.
  • Instead of a quick format, you should follow the standard process. This will save the empty space on your system and avoid disk fragmentation.

Conclusion

Now you can easily format hard drive for Mac and PC like a pro, without facing any trouble. Apart from formatting the internal drive, we have also listed a smart solution to format external devices as well. Not just that – the guide has also included a working solution to recover data from a formatted drive. If you have accidentally formatted a drive, then use Recoverit Data Recovery. An excellent recovery tool for Mac and Windows, it will make sure that you never suffer from an unwanted loss of data again.

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Most of the time, when you connect an external hard drive to your Mac’s USB port, you soon see it mount on the desktop. Apple likes to ensure these are easy to find, so they also appear in the Finder in the left-hand column under Locations.

However, sometimes, an external hard drive doesn't show up. It’s annoying, especially when you need to transfer something right then. And besides, there can be a risk that data on the external USB pen, hard, or flash drive is corrupt, which means you can’t transfer what you need between devices at all.

Corrupt data can be one reason your Mac won't recognize an external drive, but there are other reasons too. Let’s take a look at why this is happening and how you can fix the external hard drive not showing up problem:

Why your Mac does not recognize external hard drive

Let’s say you’ve encountered the problem of SSD not showing up. There could be a few reasons why SSD isn’t making an appearance (just as any other external drive), the most common being:

  • There’s something wrong with the cable
  • There’s a power supply problem
  • Your drive has been corrupted or broken
  • The drive is not readable on macOS
  • NTFS read-only problem.

How to fix an external disk drive that won't show up on a Mac

While it’s impossible to instantly figure out why an external disk drive is not showing up, you have to try to fix the problem.

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Start with the basics:

  1. Check whether the drive is properly plugged in. It sounds obvious, but since this relies on a wire - either a USB cable or HDMI cable - if it’s not connected properly then it won’t appear on your desktop.
  2. Faulty cable. Assuming it’s plugged in correctly, not wobbly or loose, the cable could be at fault. Try connecting the same device with a different cable.
  3. Damaged USB or flash drive port. It could be a hardware issue with the Mac. If you’ve got another port, try connecting the device to that one.
  4. Reboot your Mac. Sometimes, if a USB disk won't boot, the cause is a macOS issue. Hopefully, some data damage can be fixed by restarting. Choose the Apple menu > Restart. Or press and hold the power button and, when a dialog box appears, click Restart or press R. Restarting your Mac essentially clears your macOS’s memory and starts it up fresh.
  5. Incorrectly formatted drive. Not every external drive is optimized for Macs. It could be that you are trying to connect something only fit to interact with Windows devices. If you’ve got a PC or laptop, it’s worth connecting and seeing if you can access the files through another device. The best way to look for an incorrectly formatted drive is to go to
    Apple (in the top toolbar menu) > About This Mac > Storage.
    See if the external drive shows up here. For more information, go to the same menu option, then select System Report.
  6. Mac not formatted to display external drives on the desktop. It could be that your Mac already recognizes the device, but just isn’t showing its icon on the desktop screen. Even if that is the case, the drive will still appear in the left-hand column of the Finder menu under Locations. You should be able to access your drive that way, and, in the Finder menu under Preferences > General, you can check External Drives to ensure that from now on it shows up on your desktop too.
  7. Reset NVRAM. To do this, shut down or restart your Mac, switch it back on and immediately press these four keys together for at least 20 seconds: Option, Command, P, and R. It should look as though your Mac has started again; if it has, release the keys when you hear the second startup chime. Hopefully, the hard drive has shown up now.
  8. Check Apple’s Disk Utility to see if an external drive is showing up. Disk Utility is within System Preferences, or you can find it using Spotlight. If it is visible, then click the option to Mount, which should make it visible on the desktop and in the External Drives option in the Finder menu.

Unfortunately, if none of those options has worked and you continue having the external hard drive not showing up problem, then it could have crashed, or be well and truly broken. But there might still be a way you can recover the data on the external drive.

How to fix new hard drive not showing up in Finder

When you connect a drive to Mac, it should appear in Finder under Locations. What to do if external hard drive is not detected? In most cases, when Finder doesn’t see your drive, you just have to change a few things in Preferences. However, sometimes, there are more serious problems such as insufficient power supply. Let’s see how you can fix these things.

How to show connected devices in Finder

  1. Go to the Finder menu > Preferences

  2. In General, click on External disks to ensure that from now on it shows on the desktop.

In the Sidebar tab, you can choose which folders and devices will be shown in the left-hand column of the Finder window.

How to add cloud storages to Finder

You can also mount cloud storage as a local drive on your Mac. By connecting Google Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon to your computer, you get more space for securely accessing and sharing files. For your ease, add cloud drives to Finder with CloudMounter so that you keep them close at hand. You can read detailed instructions on managing cloud storage as local drives here.

Repair the failed external drives with First Aid

The most direct reason your external hard drive could be detected by macOS but can't be opened is the file system problem. If your drive is having such problems, you can try to fix them yourself with First Aid and therefore get access to your files.

First Aid tool will check the disk for errors and then attempt a repair as needed. It helps to verify and repair a range of issues related to startup HD and external drive problems. If you are able to fix the hard drive or SSD in your Mac (or any external drive) using Disk Utility you will hopefully be able to recover your files.

To run Fist Aid on an external hard drive:

  1. Open Disk Utility. You can search for it using Spotlight or via Finder > Go > Utilities
  2. Check on your external hard drive, click the First Aid tab and select Run to start running diagnostics.

How to recover data from a crashed drive

If First Aid has been successful in fixing errors, the external drive should be available to mount. If the utility hasn’t repaired issues, your drive truly is broken or formatted using a file system that the Mac cannot read — in this way you have to recover data from a damaged disk drive.

Thankfully, there is an app for that. Disk Drill is the world’s premier data recovery software for Mac. Powerful enough to retrieve long-lost, mistakenly deleted files from Macs, external hard drives, USB drives, and camera cards.

Restore deleted files

Don’t be afraid to connect NTFS drives to Mac. Setapp gives you Disk Drill so you can restore any data if there’s a drive failure.

An easy way to recover lost files on an external hard drive

Here’s how to recover files with Disk Drill (pro version available on Setapp):

Can T Use Hard Drive On Mac Computer

  1. Connect your drive to the Mac.
  2. Quit all other applications on the Mac, especially those that may be trying to access the external drive (e.g. iPhoto, Words)
  3. Launch Disk Drill.
  4. Click on the external drive that you are trying to recover files from. If it has partitions, you will see all of them. If, however, you still don’t see any volume to the external drive then you may need to try some of the steps above again or read the Disk Drill Scanning FAQs.
  5. To avoid the external drive being accessed during the recovery process, click Extras next to the drive or drive partition or file, then select Remount Volume As Read Only. A padlock will appear, protecting the drive during the process.
  6. Now click Rebuild (or Recover) next to the file(s) you are trying to recover. Once the scan is finished - it may take some time if the files are large - a list of files will appeal.
  7. Next, click Mount Found Items as Disk button on the bottom-left below the scan results.
  8. Disk Drill 'strongly suggests saving the files to a different drive than the one you are trying to recover files from. Saving to the same drive substantially lowers your chances of recovery.'
  9. A drive icon will appear, which once you double click will give you the option to open the files as you would do before they were lost. Drag them to another location, such as your desktop or a folder on your Mac.
  10. Open the files to ensure they have been recovered properly and safely eject the external drive.

Disk Drill does have other ways to recover lost files but assuming there are no complications, this method is the most effective.

A few more tips on getting your files back

  1. Macs and third-party apps that look after Macs, such as Disk Drill and iStat Menus come with a S.M.A.R.T. (also known as Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) status monitor. If a SMART check reports errors, then it could mean the hard drive is at risk of failing completely. Within Disk Utility and Disk Drill, there are several solutions for this: Repair Disk Permissions and Repair Disk. If neither of them works, it’s recommended to back up all of the data from the disk, erase it, then run a SMART check again. The external hard drive should show up as Verified.
  2. Partitions can get lost within hard drives, temporarily hiding all of the information contained within. Disk Drill can help to identify and restore this information.
  3. Within Disk Drill, you can restore data when a hard drive is damaged or add formatting, which is also something Disk Utility can help with.
  4. CleanMyMac, another useful app available from Setapp, can help you identify external hard drive errors and repair them. It is an essential tool worth trying when you’re having external hard drive difficulties.

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Alternative ways to recover data from an external hard drive

Reset the System Management Controller (SMC) if your Mac shuts down when you plug in an external hard drive. Then use a different port to connect the external hard drive. If you’ve got a battery that you can’t remove:

  • Shut down and unplug the power adapter
  • Press and hold Shift-Control-Option and the power button for 10 seconds
  • Release all keys
  • Plug the power adapter back in and switch your Mac back on.

For Macs with removable batteries, you need to switch them off, remove the battery, then press and hold the power button for 5 seconds. After that, put the battery back in, plug in the power adapter and switch the power on again.

How to fix external drive NTFS read-only problem

External hard disk detected but not opening? One reason your Mac isn’t recognizing the hard drive is the file format. Windows uses NTFS file formats, while Macs, up until the introduction of Sierra, have used HFS+. Now, Apple has introduced the Apple File System (APFS) for newer operating systems.

If you connect an NTFS drive, your Mac will be able to read it but not edit it. This means you can’t really complete your task (move, copy, or delete any files) as long as you experience the read-only problem. There’s an easy way to fix this with iBoysoft NTFS, an app that enables full read/write support for NTFS drives on Mac.


How to make Ext2/Ext3 drives readable on Mac

The common issue is Ext2- and Ext3-formatted drives are not readable on macOS. There are two ways to access such external drives on your Mac — via Linux OS or FUSE system. The easiest would be installing Linux to a secondary drive or virtual machine.

If you go with Linux installation, dual boot your Mac with Linux on another drive and use FAT32 as a transfer intermediary. If you don’t have the drive to install Linux to, use a virtual machine as an interface for it. Transferring can be done the same way – with FAT32, or via network.

Another option for reading Ext2/Ext3 disks is mounting disk with Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE). Basically, it works as an extra interface enabling file system access via specially installed modules. Here’s how to mount drives with FUSE:

  1. Install FUSE for macOS or MacFUSE as well as a fuse-ext2 module.
  2. Use the following Terminal command to enable Disk Utility’s debug menu and see all partitions: defaults write com.apple.DiskUtility DUDebugMenuEnabled 1
  3. Attach your Ext2/Ext3 drive and locate the device name via Disk Utility.
  4. In your user account, create a folder to be used as a mount point.
  5. Use the following Terminal command to mount the drive as read-only: fuse-ext2 /dev/disk2s2 /Volumes/mountpoint
  6. For write support, use the command: fuse-ext2 -o force /dev/disk2s2 /Volumes/mountpoint

And that’s not the only case where Terminal helps you access external drive. Employ the handy all-powerful Terminal, which always comes forward with solutions for difficult problems. Especially if System Information does recognize the USB or hard drive, but continues to hide it from you, disconnect the drive and try to find it using the Terminal, which you can find in Applications > Utilities.

  • Once in the Terminal, type in the command diskutil list
  • A list with information about volumes and drives should appear
  • Look for a section labelled /dev/disk_ (external, physical)
  • Make a note of the whole line after the word disk
  • Now put the following command into the Terminal diskutil info disk followed by the number or digits assigned to that disk
  • Now you should see detailed information about the drive, therefore confirming that your Mac can and does recognize it
  • Eject using the Terminal by entering the command diskutil eject disk followed by the number or digits assigned to that disk
  • Physically remove the disk from your Mac
  • Plug it back in and your Mac should recognize it.

Console is also reliable when it comes to solving tricky problems, although it isn’t always that easy to use. You can find Console under Applications > Utilities > Console or via Spotlight. Console shows if an external drive or any error is detected under the Errors and Faults tab. If no errors show up, then the problem is not caused by the device.

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Another thing that might cause USB drive not showing up is that your USB cable is just not powerful enough. Typically, a USB 1.0 or 2.0 works, but there are drives that require more power. In this case, you should get another connector or use some type of USB hub to increase the power supply. If you still can’t access external hard drive, consider switching to another Mac.

Conclusion

Hopefully, we’ve covered the topic so you don’t have to google “external hard drive disappear from the computer” ever again. There are lots of potential solutions for a Mac not reading/writing an external hard drive. If you’re trying to connect an NTFS drive, do it with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac. If you need to add cloud storage, CloudMounter will help you. Most importantly, you’ll never have to worry about a crashed or corrupted external drive because Disk Drill will help you recover all the data stored on it.

iBoysoft NTFS, CloudMounter, Disk Drill, and other powerful apps such as CleanMyMac X are all available via Setapp, a productivity suite that solves your tasks with apps. Give it a try for seven days free and fix all your Mac issues in one go.

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