How to Find a Flash Drive That’s Not Showing up On a Mac? Solutions for Mac’s Finder’s Invisible Drives

Once you connect an external hard drive to your Mac through USB, the device should display in the Finder (aka mount on the desktop). It’s also in the left-hand column of the Finder, under “Locations” (or Devices on older versions of macOS). Your disc may not have been formatted properly, be corrupted, or be broken if it is not visible on your Mac.

We explain how to diagnose if the issue is with the drive, the cable, or the port so that you can get your data off the external drive and into your Mac.

You will need an external drive that can be connected to your Mac via a USB-A, USB-C, or Thunderbolt port in order to follow along with this guide. This article will help you learn how to access your network-attached storage (NAS) device.

Solutions for Drives that Are Invisible in Finder on A Mac

Your disc drive, flash drive, USB drive, or solid-state drive may not be displayed for a variety of reasons. It could have been improperly formatted, it could be corrupted, it could have a bad cable, or it could have some other problem.

The following procedures are intended to help you determine what’s preventing your external drive from opening on your Mac and how to fix it.

1. Edit your preferences

You’d think there’d be a simple solution to getting the hard drive to show up on your computer’s desktop. You can check if your Mac is configured to display mounted drives on the desktop by trying the following.

  1. Activate the Finder.
  2. Go to the Finder by selecting it from the menu bar.
  3. Make sure the box next to External Drives is checked by going to Preferences > General. a search engine’s drive-by
  4. If your computer is already configured to recognize the external drive and display its contents on your desktop, skip ahead to the next section.

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2. Verify the Cable

We know you’ve already checked to make sure it’s plugged in as that’s the first thing anybody does. It’s possible the cable is to blame for the malfunction.

Insufficient power to the drive is a common cause of drive failure to mount. Verify that the USB-A cable is providing sufficient power to the drive if it is being powered in this way.

how to find a flash drive that's not showing up on a mac

A USB power cable, a cable with two USB connectors that both need to be inserted into your Mac, may be necessary to supply enough power to the drive on very old Macs. In a similar vein, check to see if the drive requires any additional power to function.

Regarding cables, make sure that they aren’t broken. If you’re having trouble with your drive, switching cables may help. Similarly, make sure that your USB hub isn’t the problem if you’re trying to connect to a USB port.

Verify that Mac’s port isn’t malfunctioning, too. In case one port doesn’t work, try another. If you just have one outlet, try another device to see if it will work.

3 Attempt a Different Mac and Then a PC

If that doesn’t work, try connecting the drive to a different Mac. If it doesn’t mount there either, you know there’s something wrong with the drive, and if it does, it’s your Mac.

The next thing to do is to attempt connecting the drive to a computer. If the drive is recognized by the PC but not the Mac, the problem is likely caused by the device’s PC-only file system.

4. Using Disk Utility to Get to The Disc

If the results of the preceding tests indicate that the disc is defective, you can access it using Apple’s Disk Utility tool and try to fix whatever is wrong with it. Here is what you should do:

  • To launch Disk Utility, open Spotlight (cmd+Space bar) and search for “Disk Utility.” Once you see it, press the enter key to launch it.
    If you want to find out if the hard drive is listed, check the left-hand column.
    Check for a volume beneath the hard drive in Disk Utility if you can see it there. Just pick Mount if it appears.
  • If the disc has already been mounted on your Mac, you will have the option to unmount it. (If the volume is not seen, your Mac cannot read the drive. You won’t be able to select Mount because it’ll be disabled.
  • You can choose from the First Aid, Erase, or Restore options. If the disc has problems, select First Aid to have it checked for faults and fixed. It is possible to completely overwrite the current data on the device and replace it with new information using the Restore feature.
  • When you select “Erase,” all of the information on the drive will be erased. It’s not a good idea to use Erase or Restore if you require the information on the drive.
  • The run can be accessed by selecting the First Aid tab.
  • If your Mac detects correctable faults when running First Aid, you may be presented with the option to Repair the Disk. Proceed with the fixes if that’s the case.

5. Re-Format the Disc

If your Mac is unable to repair the disc, either the drive is formatted with a file system that your Mac is unable to read, or the drive is physically damaged. In the latter case, we recommend following this guide to recover data from a damaged disc.

Ideally, the storage medium itself is fine and the incorrect format is to blame. Some history on file formats follows.

The NTFS file system is the standard for Windows computers.

how to find a flash drive that's not showing up on a mac
  • Before macOS Sierra, HFS+ was the default file system for all Macs.
  • Apple’s latest operating system, High Sierra, features a new file system named Apple File System (APFS).
    Formats that are readable on both Windows and Mac computers include exFAT and the older FAT32.
    It’s important to format your drive with either exFAT or the older FAT32 so that it can be read by both Macs and PCs. The steps for doing so are detailed below.
  • A different file system may have been used during the formatting of the hard drive (i.e. on a Windows PC). If your Windows computer doesn’t recognize your drive, you’ll need to copy the data to another computer that can read it before proceeding.
  • A PC can be used to retrieve the drive’s data, and then the drive can be reformatted and the data re-added. To make your drive compatible with both Macs and PCs, follow these steps to reformat it.

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Boot up The Disk Utility

  • If you don’t need the information stored on the hard drive, select it and then click the “Erase” button.
    Disk Utility will ask you to confirm the format selection before beginning the delete process. To make modifications, go to the Formatting menu.
  • Format your drive with either exFAT or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) depending on whether you need cross-platform support for both Windows and macOS.
  • Identify the drive by giving it a name. Title-driven Naming
  • After selecting Erase, your Mac will erase the drive and ask you to reformat it.

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