Show External Hard Drive On Desktop Mac

Show Your Drive Icons. Click the Finder menu at the top left of your Mac’s screen, then select Finder Preferences and click the General tab. You’ll see a list of all the items that will show up on your Desktop. Check the box next to “Hard disks.”. Take a look at your Macs’s Desktop. It's an external hard drive I use to transfer data between several of my Mac: the Mac Pro, a Mac Pro lap top and a G4, so it's definitely formatted for mac. The external drives (two of them) do not show up in disk utilities. Once you are able to do it, follow the below steps to show the hard drive on a Mac desktop: Go to the Menu bar, and then, move to 'Finder'. Next, click on the 'Preferences' option. Next, select the 'General' tab when the Finder preferences window appears on your Mac screen. Sep 25, 2020 To make external HDD show up on the desktop and in the Finder of macOS Catalina, Mojave, or earlier, you could refer to the below operations: Show the external hard drive on the desktop: Go to Finder Preferences General tab and select 'External disks' to make external hard drives show on the desktop. 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. Mac not formatted to display external drives on the desktop.

Summary:This article will show you 8 solutions to troubleshoot the external hard drive not mounting in macOS Big Sur/Catalina/Mojave error and how to recover lost data from unmountable external hard drives with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

By Eileen Posted to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips, updated on May 11th, 2021

Normally, when you plug in an external hard drive to Macs, you'll see it mounted on the desktop, in Finder and in Disk Utility. Then you can read, edit, copy and delete files on the mounted external hard drive. However, if you areunable to mount external hard drives or it reminds you with the ' error' message, you cannot access your important data on this drive at all. The worst thing is that you don't even have any data backup when your external hard drive is unmountable. But now you can ease your mind, in this page, you will see 8 feasible solutions that you can try to make the external hard drive mounted in macOS Catalina/Mojave/High Sierra/Sierra.

Table of contents
1. How to recover lost data if Mac won't boot after Mojave update?
2. Read more about Mounting a disk

How to fix external hard drive not mounting in macOS Catalina/Mojave issue?

Solution 1: Check if the hard drive is properly plugged in.

Best External Hard Drive For Macbook Pro

Since the connection between your Mac and external hard drives relies on cables, loose connections could be the cause that your external hard drive is not recognized by your Mac computer.

If the unstable connection is the case, your external hard drive would not be mounted even with a slight disturbance. Sometimes the cable itself will become hot because of a faulty connection. Therefore, you need to make sure that the connection, i.e. the USB cable, is in good condition.

Solution 2: Check if the USB port/USB hub is unmatchable, damaged or lack of power.

If your external hard drive or USB flash drive is not mounted on Mac, try plugging it into another USB port or a USB hub. That's because there're USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports and they have some differences: USB 3.0 has higher transfer rates, provides more power, more bandwidth, etc. than USB 2.0. As you can see, insufficient power supply or damaged USB ports could also lead to external hard drives not mounting in macOS Catalina/Mojave/High Sierra.

To check this error, you can unplug the problematic external hard drive and plug a functional external hard drive into this USB port to see if it can be mounted normally.

Solution 3: Check if your Mac is set to show mounted drives on the desktop.

It's also possible that your Mac has alreadyrecognized the external hard drive butnot showing up on Mac desktop or Finder. Under such circumstance, you should go to Finder > Preferences > General and make sure the 'External disks' option is ticked. Then you'll see the external hard drive mounted on the desktop.

You can also set your Mac to show external hard drives in Finder. Go to Finder > Preferences > Sidebar and make sure the 'External disks' option under 'Locations' is ticked.

Solution 4: Check if the external hard drive is NTFS formatted.

NTFS (New Technology File System) is a proprietary file system developed by Microsoft. However, for some reasons, macOS comes with read-only support for NTFS; its disabled-by-default write support for NTFS is unstable. Even though the NTFS formatted external hard drive can show up in Disk Utility, external hard drives might not be mounting as normal.

You can go to Disk Utility and check the file system of the external hard drive is NTFS or not, if this is the case, you can back up the files on the NTFS external hard drive and format it to Mac supported file systems (APFS, HFS+ or HFS) or file systems supported by both Windows and Mac, like FAT32 and exFAT.

Nevertheless, the best phenomenon is that you can read and write NTFS both on Macs and on Windows without fuss. So, a good NTFS for Mac application will enable you to write NTFS external hard drives on macOS without reformatting.

Solution 5: Check if the external hard drive is mountable in Disk Utility.

You can check if your external hard drive is mounting in Disk Utility. If your external hard drive appears there but is not mounted, you can click the Mount icon then the external hard drive will be mounted in macOS Catalina/Mojave.

However, if the external hard drive appears in Disk Utility but is unmountable or no volumes of that external drive listed, you got both good news and bad news. Good news is that showing the external hard drive in Disk Utility means the drive has no hardware problem, while the bad news is that the file system of this drive probably is corrupted.

But don't worry, macOS has a built-in repair tool, called First Aid, to fix minor disk errors. You can try to fix the external hard drive not mounting issue with this useful program. Just go to Utilities > Disk Utility and click First Aid.

Solution 6: Fix the unmountable external hard drive with Terminal.

If your external hard drive can't be recognized by your Mac and First Aid failed to repair it, you can try to remount via Terminal by following the steps carefully as below:

1. Go to Applications > Utility > Terminal.

2. Type in diskutil list. Look for the section labeled /dev/disk_ (external, physical), remember the disk number.

3. Type indiskutil info disk_. Replace '_' with your external disk number. This is to check if your system recognizes this drive.

4. Once confirmed, type in diskutil eject disk_ to eject the external drive.

5. Physically remove the external drive and then re-plug it. Hopefully, your external hard drive will be mounted in macOS Catalina/Mojave.

Solution 7: Check if the external hard drive is corrupted.

If unfortunately, none of the above solutions worked, it's very likely that the files system of the external hard drive is corrupted or damaged too seriously to be recognized by macOS Catalina/Mojave. It could be the result of file system broken, virus attacks, improper ejection, etc. And if you have no important files on this drive, you can directly assign a new file system for this external hard drive by reformatting.

• How to format external hard drives on Mac?

Solution 8: Recover lost data and reformat the unmountable external hard drive.

But what if you have invaluable data that you don't want to lose on this inaccessible external hard drive? In this case, recovering data from this drive with professional data recovery software, such asiBoysoft Mac Data Recovery, would be your access to this unmountable external hard drive.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is able to recover lost data fromnot mounted external hard drives in macOS Monterey/Big Sur/Catalina/Mojave/High Sierra,recover lost data from corrupted external APFS drives,recover lost data from unreadable external hard drives,recover deleted/lost data from APFS drives, and recover lost data from formatted APFS files, etc.

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on Mac.

Step 2: Launch this program. Select the unmountable hard drive and click 'Next'. The program will start scanning this drive for lost files.

Step 3: After the scanning process finishes, you can double click the found files and preview them.

Step 4: Choose what you want to get back and click 'Recover'.

Step 5: Go through the recovered files and make sure your desired files are recovered from this external hard drive successfully.

If, unfortunately, your data lost from external hard drive in macOS Catalina/Mojave, whether the disk was formatted accidentally or files were deleted mistakenly, you can recover lost data from unmountable hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. But compared with data recovery software, the best way to escape from data loss is to back up your files on a regular basis.


Read more about Mounting a disk

Mounting a hard disk makes it accessible by the computer. This is a software process that 'activates' the disk, which makes the folders and files on the disk readable by the computer. If a hard drive is physically connected, but not mounted, the computer will not recognize it.

Even though most operating systems, such as macOS, will mount newly connected disks by default, you still can't avoid accidental problems in that the hard drive is connected through devices like cable, USB port, etc. To fix external hard drive not mounting issue, you need to exclude the errors one by one, and to avoid external hard drive not mounting on macOS Catalina/Mojave, remember to safely unmount the external disk before ejection to avoid possible file data corruption.

Still have questions?

Table of Content

The methods we’ll cover are:


External Hard Drive Doesn't Show Up On Desktop Mac

Check USB connectivity
2. Enable visibility of external hard drive
3. Update macOS
4. Repair external hard drive by using Disk Utility
5. Repair external hard drive by using Terminal
6. Erase the external hard drive
7. Replace the external hard drive

Hi friends, when I connected my 2 TB Seagate external hard drive after a long time on my MacBook Air (running on macOS Big Sur or Catalina), the drive did not show up in Desktop or Finder sidebar. This drive has all my important digital memories. Could anyone please help me out to recover my data from the drive? Thanks.

When you connect an external hard drive to your Mac running on macOS Big Sur or Catalina, the storage drive may not show up on Desktop, Finder, or even on the Disk Utility app due to several reasons.

Common Reasons for External Hard Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

  • USB connectivity problem
  • Not setting preferences in macOS
  • Partition map damage
  • Device incompatibility
  • Physical damage on a hard drive

The next sections describe multiple troubleshooting methods to fix the ‘external drive not showing up on Mac’ issue on macOS.

1. Check the USB Connectivity

Your external hard drive may not be connected properly to the USB port present on your MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac mini. Try the following steps:

  • Try reconnecting the drive to the same or another compatible USB port.
  • If that doesn’t fix the issue, try changing the USB cable and reconnect.
  • If you have another Mac, then even try connecting the external drive to it.

2. Enable visibility of external hard drive

In macOS Big Sur or Catalina, you need to enable the visibility of external disks. For setting your preferences, do the following:

  • Go to Finder > Preferences > General. Under ‘Show these items on the desktop’, check the ‘Hard disks’ and ‘External disks’ checkboxes.
  • Similarly, go to Finder > Preferences > Sidebar. Under ‘Show these items on the sidebar’, check the ‘Hard disks’ and ‘External disks’ checkboxes.
  • Also, go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. In Disk Utility, to view all mountable and non-mountable drives, go to View > Show All Devices.

3. Update macOS

Try updating your macOS Big Sur or Catalina to fix subtle issues of external hard drive connectivity. But before that, back up your Macintosh HD by using Time Machine to avoid any data loss. Ensure your Time Machine drive is connected to your Mac. Go to Time Machine > Back Up Now. Once the backup is taken, perform the following steps to update your macOS.

  1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences.
  2. In the System Preferences window, click Software Update.
  3. In the Software Update window, let macOS to check for updates.
  4. When updates are available, click Update Now.
  5. Click Download and Restart. Wait till the update is over.

4. Repair external hard drive by using Disk Utility

When your Mac is not recognizing the external hard drive, use Disk Utility to mount and repair the unrecognized external drive. Steps are as follows:

  1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities. Double-click Disk Utility to launch it.
  2. If Disk Utility lists the external hard drive in gray, then select your external hard drive from the sidebar.
  3. From the top pane, click the Mount tab to mount your unmounted external hard drive.
  4. If the drive is yet inaccessible, click the First Aid tab from the top pane, then click Run to initiate the external hard drive repair process.
  5. Wait till Disk Utility repairs your external hard drive. If Disk Utility fails, it will show a message that the drive can’t be repaired and you need to back up and replace the drive.

5. Repair external hard drive by using Terminal

When Disk Utility can’t repair your external hard drive, use your Terminal application available in macOS to mount and repair the affected drive. Steps are as follows:

  1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities. Double-click Terminal to launch it.
  2. At the command line, type diskutil list, then hit Return. Note disk# of the external hard drive.
  3. Type diskutil mountDisk /dev/disk#, then hit Return.
  4. Type diskutil repairVolume /dev/disk#. then hit Return.
  5. When the repair process is completed, go to Terminal > Quit Terminal.

6. Erase the external hard drive

Can't See External Hard Drive On Mac Desktop

In case the external drive’s data is not accessible due to file system corruption, you can still recover the data by using a data recovery software for Mac.

After recovering the inaccessible data, erase the drive by using Disk Utility to fix any logical issues. Finally, restore the recovered data to the external hard drive.

How To Show Mac Hard Drive On Desktop

7. Replace the external hard drive

If your external hard drive is not visible in Disk Utility even if you have chosen the Show All Devices option in the View tab, then the drive may have undergone physical damage. You need to replace the inoperative drive with a new one.

Note: To recover data from a dead hard drive, get in touch with a data recovery service provider.

Tips to Prevent Permanent Data Loss on External Hard Drive

Find External Hard Drive Windows 10

  • Implement a 3-2-1 backup strategy (3 copies of data on 2 different storage media with 1 copy offsite) to safeguard against any data loss incident.
  • Do not erase the external hard drive straight away if it is not recognized by your Mac unless you recover that data by using a Mac data recovery software.

How Do I Get My External Hard Drive To Show Up On My Mac


The blog highlighted common reasons with troubleshooting strategies to resolve ‘external hard drive not showing up on Mac’ issue. To perform any critical troubleshooting process, back up your drive. In case of data loss, do not lose hope. Recover your lost data by using a Stellar Data Recovery Professional for macOS Big Sur, Catalina or earlier. The Mac data recovery software supports a variety of storage devices including external hard drives formatted with APFS, HFS+, HFS, NTFS, FAT, and ex-FAT file systems. The software is available for a free trial.