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“Hi, I have a 1TB Seagate external hard drive, 563GB is used. I connect this drive to my MacBook Pro, it can be recognized, but when I open it, no files appear. Why? Where are my files gone? How to get them back?” - Linda

Portable and offering more space, external hard drives are ideal for Mac users who need to store significant amounts of data. However, running into an issue might be unpleasant and unsettling when the external drive displays no files despite storing data.

This issue has several potential origins, from simple bugs to more involved problems. This piece is written to help Mac users troubleshoot this issue and gain reliable access to files stored on an external HDD or SSD.

Quick Methods to Fix External Hard Drive Shows No Files on Mac

Fix1. Open disk utility, check if the external hard drive is mounting correctly. If not, click on Mount button.

Fix2. Connect the external hard drive to another PC or Mac. If the another PC or Mac can find the missing files, just copy the files to your computer and then reformat the external hard drive.

Fix3. Update the macOS to the latest version, then restart the Mac, reconnect the external hard drive to your Mac.

Fix4. Open the external hard drive via Finder, then press Command+Shift+. to check if you can see the hidden files on the external hard drive.

If all the methods listed above can not solve this issue, just check the guide below.

Recover Missing Files from External Hard Drive on Mac

No matter why the external hard drive does not show any file, you can use a data recovery app to scan the external hard drive and recover all the missing files.

Do Your Data Recovery for Mac is a powerful data recovery app for macOS. It can find all recoverable files including existing files, hidden files, deleted/erased files, inaccessible files from a hard drive.

Do Your Data Recovery for Mac

  • Recover inaccessible data from an external hard drive.
  • Undelete files on Mac.
  • Unformat hard drive on Mac.

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your Mac. Then open Do Your Data Recovery on your Mac, it will show all drives and devices. Just select the external hard drive to start data recovery.

find missing files stored on external hard drive on Mac

Step 2. To scan the external hard drive, just click on Scan button. It will find all files stored on the external hard drive.

find missing files stored on external hard drive on Mac

Step 3. Once the scan is completed, just select the wanted files and save them by clicking on Recover button.

find missing files stored on external hard drive on Mac

Don’t save the files to the external hard drive. You can save the files to your Mac. Then open Disk Utility, select the external hard drive, click Erase. Erasing the external hard drive will solve any issue of the drive and make it be read-write on your Mac.

erase external hard drive on Mac

FAQs About External Hard Drive Issue on Mac

1. How to recover lost files from a blank external hard drive on Mac?

Run Do Your Data Recovery to scan the external hard drive. It can help you find all lost files from the external hard drive. Then select the wanted files and save them by clicking on Recover button.

2. Why does my Mac not see my external hard drive?

  • There is a problem with the drive's connection. Problems with connectivity are possible if the external device isn't linked to the computer correctly. Verify the hard drive disk utility's connection cable is securely inserted into your device.
  • The cable is defective, possibly because the connection cable is broken. Damage to the external hard drive's connection will prevent it from being used. If the damage is not immediately obvious, test with a different cable.
  • You still need to restart your Mac. After being left on without being restarted for too long, Macs can start to show signs of trouble. If your device is acting up, you can either press and hold the power button or choose Restart from the Apple menu to force a restart.
  • Mac hardware issues include a faulty power supply or malfunctioning USB port. If feasible, try attaching an alternative external drive to your Mac to check whether the same issue happens. If the drive functions normally, the damaged drive could be at fault.

3. How to solve external hard drive not showing up on Mac issue?

Solution 1. Edit Finder Settings:

Verify that the Finder recognizes the external hard drive after connecting it. You must change a Finder setting if an external disk isn't visible on your desktop. Find a solution, please.

  • First, select "Settings" from the "Finder" option at the top of the screen.
  • Second, go to "General" and click the "Show these items on the desktop" checkbox next to "External disk" and "Hard Disk."
  • Customize which folders and devices appear in the Finder window's left column by clicking the "Sidebar" option.

fix external hard drive not showing up on Mac

The issue with the Mac not recognizing the external hard disk should now be resolved. If not, move on to the next solution.

Solution 2. Try another USB cable:

A bad USB cable prevents the external disk from connecting to your Mac. The hard drive isn't visible on your Mac. Reconnect your external hard drive with another compatible cable.

Solution 3. Check USB port:

The Mac may not identify a Seagate hard disk because its USB port is damaged. Attach the external hard disk to another Mac's USB connector to compare.

Also, check the hard drive's casing USB ports. Sometimes, a bad SATA connection prevents the external disk from appearing. You can ask experts to open the external hard disk case and look.

Solution 4. Mount external drive in Disk Utility:

The Mac's Disk Utility may not properly mount your external hard disk, preventing it from seeing files. Remounting it lets you view files without problems.

  • Step 1. Launch "Application" and "Utilities" in a new Finder window.
  • Step 2. Double-click "Disk Utility" to start it. The external hard disk is on the left panel under External. The external hard disk is greyed out and unnamed.
  • Step 3. Select the unnamed external hard disk and click "Mount" in Disk Utility.
  • Step 4. Restart Mac. Files on the external hard drive should be visible now.

Solution 5. Format the external hard drive:

Open Disk Utility, select the external hard drive and click Erase. Then select a file system and click Erase again.

4. How to solve external hard drive read-only on Mac?

You can use Disk Utility to format the external hard drive to Mac-compatible file system or install an NTFS for Mac tool on your Mac to enable writable for all NTFS drives on your Mac.


An external hard drive appearing empty on a Mac can be frustrating, but various solutions exist. The above methods can restore file access and fix the disk showing no file issue.

To avoid future issues, carefully handle your external hard drive, remove it properly, back up vital data, and check for mistakes. If problems persist, a professional technician or data recovery specialist may be needed to salvage data or detect hardware faults beyond basic troubleshooting.

DoYourData Author

Written & Updated by Justin Kenny

Justin Kenny is a writer & editor of DoYourData. He joined DoYourData in 2016 and focuses on writing articles about Windows data recovery, Mac data recovery, external device data recovery, hard drive clone, data erasure, Mac cleanup, computer issue fixes, etc. He is a super fan of Apple devices and is big on testing new digital device and system utility software.

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