Easy Tricks to Solve Pen Drive Not Showing Up on Mac

Colorful thumb drives

USB flash drives, also called jump drives, thumb drives, or pen drives, are ubiquitous storage devices. They are light to carry around and compatible with most computers.

As external devices, a pen drive needs to connect to a computer through a USB port, and most pen drives are currently using type A interface.

After a USB flash drive is attached to a Mac computer, its icon and name will show up on the desktop, in Finder, and Disk Utility for user’s easy access and management. But, sometimes you can’t see your USB flash drive at the right place due to file system incompatibility, preference misconfiguration, or disk corruption.

The answers in this article make references to the post from iBoysoft where you can find more solutions to the USB flash drive not showing up on Mac.

Solution 1: Move to a PC

If the file system of a disk is not fully supported by macOS, the Mac computer won’t be able to recognize the disk or mount it for use.

Even though most pen drives are formatted with one of the FAT family file systems like FAT 32 or exFAT, the device could be reformatted with a file system that cannot be recognized by macOS, especially if you got the pen drive from someone else.

In this case, we recommend you use a Windows PC to read and write to this pen drive. Or you can reformat the pen drive on Windows to FAT to fully use it on the Mac platform.

Here is how to format a drive on a Windows PC:

  1. Back up important files.
  2. Right-click the pen drive and select Format on the menu.
  3. Choose a file system under the File system section. Do not select NTFS because NTFS-formatted drives are read-only on Mac computers.
  4. Name the drive as you like in the Volume label.
  5. Tick Quick Format and click Start.
  6. Click OK after the format is done.

After the pen drive is reformatted, you can move it back to your Mac. Since the FAT system is universal, macOS will recognize the disk and mount it on the desktop, in Finder, and Disk Utility.

Solution 2: Reset Finder’s Preferences

Finder is the software through which you can access and manage files on a disk.

By default, the Finder will show the external disk on the desktop and in the sidebar. However, if the Finder settings are set to hide the disk from access, that could be the reason why you can’t see the pen drive on the desktop or sidebar.

To show the USB pen drive up on Mac:

  1. Open Finder and Click Finder beside the Apple logo.
  2. Go to Preferences.
  3. Tick the box in front of External disks under Sidebar and General tabs. 

If the boxes have been checked, your disk must have some inner logic errors preventing the OS from reading the disk correctly. If that is the case, keep reading to learn how to repair the disk errors.

Solution 3: Repair or format the USB flash drive in Disk Utility

Sometimes, a storage device has some software issues within and the macOS is unable to read and mount it successfully. As a result, the disk won’t show up on the desktop or in Finder. To repair the issues, you need to use the built-in disk management tool on Mac, Disk Utility.

To repair the pen drive:

  1. Open Disk Utility. It is in the Utilities folder in Finder’s Applications.
  2. Select the pen drive on the left list. Usually, it is greyed-out. If you can’t see the name, click View and select Show All Devices to show the full name of your SUB flash drive.
  3. Click First Aid at the toolbar.
  4. Click Run on the pop-up.
  5. Run First Aid at least twice to get a constant result.

To format the pen drive:

  1. Back up the important files using data recovery software since the disk is corrupted.
  2. Open Disk Utility and select the pen drive.
  3. Click on Erase at the toolbar.
  4. Give the disk a name and choose FAT or ExFAT as the format.
  5. Click Erase to confirm to format the disk.
  6. Detach the flash drive and reconnect it back to your Mac.
macOS drive format settings

Note: No matter how you format a storage disk, on a PC or a Mac, do remember to back up the important files first because either Quick format or Erase will delete all files on the target drive.


When the external disk is not responding after you connect it to a computer, it doesn’t necessarily mean the disk is broken, especially when you are not familiar with the Mac or the drive itself.

The wrong settings or incompatible file system will hide the pen drive. Hopefully, the solutions in this article can give you a start and solve the issue easily by yourself.

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