A flash drive is similar to a hard disk, which is used to store digital data such as photos, videos, presentations, and other important documents. Under normal circumstances, when plugging in USB/thumb flash drive to your Mac’s USB port, you will see it mount on Mac. If not, then you get into an annoying trouble.
USB flash drive not showing up on Mac is a problem that freaks many users out. Today, we will expound the methods to solve USB or thumb drive not detected issue, as well as how to recover data from undetected USB flash drive.
There are several root causes that would lead to USB flash drive not showing up on Mac. When you are stuck on the undetected USB flash drive, investigate each of reasons. Most problems of flash/thumb drive can be solved effortlessly.
Main possibilities why USB flash drive not detected or recognized:
According to the reasons, you can find the corresponding solutions. The following methods can solve most USB flash drive not showing up on Mac issues. Give them a try before you buy a new USB flash drive or upgrade your macOS system.
The damage of USB device would cause flash drive not showing up on Mac, particularly if you’re using a cheap and low-quality product. As for USB ports, they can become dirty and worn over time.
You can open Disk Utility app to check if the USB flash drive is showing up. There are two situations:
If your flash drive is detected, but you still have the trouble accessing the content on the drive, you can run First Aid: click on drive > hit First Aid > run the process to repair the error on the drive.
If your Mac won’t recognize the USB flash drive, I suggest you to unmount the disk: Click on Unmount button > unplug the flash drive > wait about 10~15 seconds > plug flash drive back in. Next, try to access the flash drive again.
An USB flash drive is not showing up on your Mac may be just because you didn’t allow it to show from the sidebar, you will need to check and adjust the Finder app preferences.
These steps are very important. If you haven’t ticked the option, flash drive would not show up on desktop or Finder.
If all above mentioned 4 fixes fail to fix this issue, maybe it is time to restart your Mac. By flushing out random data, resetting all programs, fixing bugs and glitches, your Mac will get back to its best condition and start working magically.
To restart Mac, you just need to click the Apple icon in the menu bar, and then choose Restart.
Many authors are recommending to reset SMC (System Management Controller), but it does little to help. The method mainly solve some basic problems, such as power/temperature/fan/keyboard and other component issues . But it is still worth a try to fix external devices are not recognized on Mac by resetting SMC.
For M1/M2 Macs
For Intel Desktop Mac
For Intel Laptop
Why USB flash drive is in Disk Utility, but it’s unable to mount and be recognized? Why my files can’t be copied to flash drive? Obviously, you encounter disk format problem.
If your USB flash drive is used for both Windows and Mac computers, the HFS+ and NTFS formats are not applicable. HFS+ can’t be recognized on Windows, and NTFS format can only be read (unable to be written) on Mac. FAT32 and exFAT supports both of them, but FAT32 has a limitation of file size. Therefore, exFAT should be the best choice.
|Mac (10.6.4 or earlier)||Read Only||✓||✓||✓|
|Mac (10.6.4 or later)||Read Only||✓||✓||✓|
|Windows 7/8/10||✓||Read-only with Boot Camp||✓||✓|
|Max. file size||No limit||No limit||4GB||No limit|
|Max. partition size||No limit||No limit||8GB||No limit|
Even if your USB flash drive not showing up on Mac problem is solved, there is possibility that some files are missing on your USB or thumb flash drive. Then, you need to restore deleted or formatted files from flash drive on Mac using professional USB flash drive data recovery software.
Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is considered as the No. 1 option to help you retrieve data from USB flash drive. It can quickly detect, preview and recover missing, formatted, deleted data. Besides supporting hard drive recovery, it offers comprehensive recovery from multiple devices as well including USB flash drive, SD card, SSD, MP3/MP4 player, Cameras, HDD, CD/DVD, etc.
As USB flash drive brings so much convenience and is used frequently by us, issues tend to occur beyond our expectations. Finishing reading this guide, you will never worry about “flash drive not showing up or recognized on Mac” problem.
The possible way to avoid troubles is to eject USB flash drive safely, keep backing up important data and install anti-virus software to ensure the security. If you think these are not enough, the safest insurance is to install a USB flash drive recovery for Mac tool.
Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.