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How to Fix External Hard Drive Not Mounting on Mac Issue Without Data Loss

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jun 29, 2023 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

Q: How to fix the external hard drive not mounting on the Mac issue without data loss?
"This past day, I've been trying to mount the external hard drive on my Mac. I've been trying and trying but unable to mount it. I don't know what the reason behind this problem is. This issue has never occurred before. The only thing that I'm worried about is my data on the drive, as it contains all my memories. I want to know the methods which can resolve the Mac external hard drive not mounting issue without wasting my data on the drive."

The hard drive is certainly the most used data storage device. It is widely used all around the world. The hard drive stores large bulk of significant data of the users. So, it is understandable that the issue of the external hard drive not mounting on Mac will give you a lot of stress. Once you have seen this error don't try methods of your own. Still, there is no need to worry about this issue, it is fixable. In this guide, you will be given some causes of this problem so you will know how this problem occurs. Once we are done with that you will be shown some easy and quick remedies for this issue.

In this article

Part 1: What are the reasons behind the external hard drive not mounting on Mac?

Before straight away jumping onto the fixes, you need to know the actual reasons behind this issue. Knowing the reasons for the dilemma will make you vigilant in the future.

Here are some common reasons for external hard drives not mounting on Mac;

The first and foremost reason for your external hard drive not mounting on Mac could be the dirty or loose connection between the cables, USB-C multi-adapter, thunderbolt 3, or any other connection ports. The connection is only possible when the cables are attached tightly and cleanly.

There are situations when the file system format of the drive is not compatible with your Mac. There are formats of the hard drive which are easily compatible with the Mac, like exFAT, HFS+, etc. So, make sure the format of your external hard drive is compatible with the system.

This reason is a very common one, if your external hard drive is attacked by a virus or if you abruptly eject the external hard drive. There are chances that the file system of the hard drive is damaged or corrupted. If this is the case, the external hard drive won't mount on the Mac.

In very rare cases, the reason for the external hard drive not mounting on Mac could be that the driver software of the storage device is incompatible with the Mac.

Part 2: Suggestions on the external hard drive, not an amounting problem

You can solve your issue with some suggestions also if you try them before climbing to the formal methods to solve the issue of the external hard drives not mounting on Mac.

Here are some of the effective suggestions for your situation;

Firstly, the simplest suggestion is to re-plug your external hard drive to another port as out of multiple ports, some might become unsteady with the passage of time. Secondly, you can even try another USB cable. The issue can be on the USB cable, so replacing it might solve your problem.

This suggestion might sound awkward, but it works, you can try plugging in your external hard drive in exceptional slow motion. Users have reported that plugging in slowly has mounted the drive on Mac, rather than attaching it normally.

Lastly, if the above suggestion doesn't come in handy, you can open the finder, chooses "preferences" or press (control +), and check "external disks" both in the general tab and in the sidebar tab to show your external hard drive on the Mac system.

Part 3: How to resolve Mac unmounted External hard drive issue?

Now coming to the most significant part of the guide, if the suggestions aren't enough to get you out of the problematic situation of external hard drives not mounting on the Mac system, you can follow these methods carefully to get rid of this issue.

The first method to solve your trouble is quite simpler than others, so if you are thinking of trying another method instead of this, do try this before proceeding to another. In this method firstly ensure finder preferences to show external hard disks on desktops or if the finder is enabled. These are the easy-to-implement steps mentioned below, follow them accordingly;

Step 1: Open Finder from the dock, from the top menu bar, go to Finder> Preferences.

Step 2: When the finder preferences window appears, click "General tab"

change mac os

Step 3: under the "show these items on the desktop" section, select the "external drives" checkbox. Your desktop will now show the external hard drive icon.

Step 4: in this step, click the sidebar tab, under the location section, and check the external drive option. (ensure the disk utility's view menu has the "show all devices" option checked.

Step 5: Press the command + spacebar keys to open Spotlight.

Step 6: type disk utility and hit return to open disk utility.

show all devices

Step 7: In the last step, choose the View menu and select "Show all devices". Your disk utility's sidebar will now show the external hard drive.

The next method is to reset NVRAM (Non-volatile RAM) and PRAM (Parameter RAM). You need to follow the steps mentioned below to do so;

Step 1: Restart the Mac and instantly press and hole option + command + P+ R keys, until you hear the chime sound.

Step 2: reset SMC (system management controller) on your Mac.

Step 3: If you are using an iMac, Mac Pro/mini, or laptop which has a removable battery, detach the power cable or take out the battery and then press and hold the power button for 5 seconds. In non-removable devices like MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, press and hold "shift+control+option+powerbutton" for 10 seconds.

If the above two methods do not solve your problem, you can try this method. Sometimes the connectivity is not proper, which certainly results in this issue.

Step 1: Reconnect the USB connector or adapter to fit the hard drive properly.

Step 2: You can connect the hard drive to a different port or any other Mac.

Step 3: The USB cable might be damaged, try changing that.

Step 4: You can either connect the external power source if the hard drive requires one.

Step 5: The hard drive's case can also trigger this issue. So, you can try changing that also.

In this method you can imply three procedures as mentioned below;



Open the disk utility, then select the hard drive from the sidebar. Furthermore, click on the mounting tab and the drive will mount automatically.



Firstly, open the disk utility and choose the hard drive from the sidebar and click the "first aid" option and hit "run", it will repair the logical issues of the hard drive.



open the disk utility and check the smart status of the drive, in case it is failing, it's better to back up the drive-by cloning. Replace the failing drive with a new one, if you don't want to lose your data.

Part 4: How to recover data from a non-mounting external Mac hard drive?

There can be a scenario where you failed to implement the proper steps and now all your data is lost, no worries you can recover all your data in a short time. Stick to the guide.


Recoverit Data Recovery for Mac is remarkable enough to recover more than 1000+ types and formats of data. It can recover data from almost any of the storage devices used in the market.

Step 1: Launch Recoverit on Mac

Download and install the Recoverit software on your Mac.

mac data recovery

Step 2: Select the derive

Once you've opened the application, the steps are easy and simple after that. You need to select the drive under the "Devices" option in front of you.

mac select folder recovery

Step 3: Scan the location

Once you have pressed the tab "start" the software will start the deep scanning process for your hard drive. You can even either pause or resume the scanning process.

mac scanning lost files

Step 4: Preview and recover files

The scanning process might take some time. After the process has been completed, you will be able to preview all the data you had lost on the drive. You can preview any format of data that you have lost on the hard drive. Lastly, just press the "recover" button and wait for your data to be recovered safe and sound.

mac photo recovery


A hard drive is a storage device that is very sensitive and can pop up multiple problems for its users. You just need to keep in mind that every problem is solved able only when you use the best guidance. The hard drive not mounting on the Mac issue is curable with all the methods mentioned above in the guide.

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