Why isn’t my Sandisk showing up on my Mac?

Quick Overview

There are a few common reasons why a Sandisk device may not show up on a Mac:

  • The Sandisk is not properly connected to the Mac
  • The Sandisk needs to be reformatted to a Mac compatible format
  • There is a problem with the USB port on the Mac
  • The Sandisk is damaged or malfunctioning
  • The Mac’s USB drivers need to be updated

The most likely solutions involve checking the connections, trying different USB ports, reformatting the Sandisk, or updating the Mac’s USB drivers. With some basic troubleshooting, you should be able to get the Sandisk working properly on the Mac.

Check the USB Connections

The first step is to check that the Sandisk is properly physically connected to the Mac. Make sure the USB cable is securely inserted into both the drive and the Mac’s USB port. If you’re using a USB hub or dock, try connecting the Sandisk directly to the Mac instead.

Also try connecting the Sandisk to different USB ports on the Mac. Some ports may not be functioning properly, so switching ports could help the drive be detected. Make sure the ports are clear of any debris or damage as well.

If the connections seem fine, the next step is to check whether the drive is showing up in Disk Utility on the Mac. Disk Utility provides information about drives connected to the system.

Check Disk Utility

To open Disk Utility on a Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple menu and select “Utilities”
  2. Choose “Disk Utility” from the Utilities folder

Disk Utility will display any drives connected to your system. Check if the Sandisk appears in the left side menu. If you do see it there, click on it to inspect details like the format and connection type.

If the Sandisk is showing up in Disk Utility, then the physical connection is likely fine. But if you don’t see it, there could be a hardware issue with either the drive or Mac USB port.

Try a Different USB Port

As mentioned above, try connecting the Sandisk to a different USB port on your Mac. Some potential tips for this:

  • Try ports directly on the Mac rather than those on a hub/dock
  • Test ports on both sides or back of the Mac if possible
  • Inspect the ports for any damage before connecting
  • If you have a USB-C port, use a USB-C to USB-A adapter if needed

If the Sandisk shows up on some ports but not others, you know the drive is likely functioning normally and the problematic ports should be avoided. But if it fails to show up on all ports, the issue likely lies with the drive or your Mac’s USB controllers.

Reformat the Sandisk Drive

Another common reason a Sandisk is not recognized on Mac is the drive format. Sandisk products are often pre-formatted with FAT32 or NTFS formats by default. However, Macs can only read from those formats, not write to them.

To fully use a Sandisk on Mac, it needs to be reformatted to a Mac compatible file system like APFS, HFS+, or exFAT. Here are the steps to reformat in Disk Utility:

  1. Connect the Sandisk to the Mac
  2. Open Disk Utility
  3. Select the Sandisk drive
  4. Click “Erase”
  5. Choose “APFS” or “exFAT” format
  6. Give the drive a name
  7. Click “Erase”

This will wipe all data from the drive and reformat it for Mac compatibility. Now it should reliably show up and be usable for storage on your Mac.

Update Mac USB Drivers

Outdated USB drivers on a Mac can also cause connected devices like a Sandisk drive to not be detected properly. Updating these drivers may help fix the issue.

To update USB drivers on a Mac:

  1. Open the App Store app
  2. Click Updates in the toolbar
  3. Install any macOS system updates that are available
  4. Restart your Mac after updates install

The system updates will contain the latest USB drivers for your Mac hardware. Installing these and rebooting should refresh the USB subsystem and allow devices like your Sandisk to be recognized.

You can also try uninstalling and reinstalling the USB controllers in Disk Utility if the drivers still seem outdated.

Additionally, be sure to keep your Mac operating system version updated going forward. Apple issues fixes for USB issues frequently via software updates.

Check if Sandisk is Damaged

If you’ve tried the above steps exhaustively and the Sandisk still won’t show up, the drive itself may be damaged or malfunctioning.

Some signs of a damaged USB drive:

  • The drive makes unusual noises during operation
  • The housing shows physical damage or cracks
  • The drive fails to mount even on other devices
  • You get read/write errors when trying to access data
  • The drive seems very hot to the touch

In these cases, it’s best to back up any retrievable data immediately, then replace the faulty drive. Prolonged use of a damaged drive can result in permanent data loss. Contact Sandisk about warranty replacement if the drive is still under warranty.

You can also use Disk Utility’s First Aid feature to check for file system damage on the drive which could prevent it from mounting. But this is unlikely to help with physical hardware failure.

Troubleshoot Mac Hardware Issues

Rarely, the issue may be with your Mac’s USB ports or cabling rather than the Sandisk drive itself. Some troubleshooting tips if you suspect hardware problems:

  • Test the Sandisk on another computer if possible
  • Try different USB cables to rule out a bad cable
  • Inspect cables and ports for bent pins or other damage
  • For laptops, check if USB ports work in different charge states (powered on, off, sleep, etc)
  • Reset the System Management Controller (SMC) on your Mac

Resetting the SMC will clear any glitches with USB power and data flows:

  1. Shut down your Mac
  2. Unplug power cable for 15 seconds
  3. Plug power back in and restart

If you’ve determined the USB hardware on your Mac is faulty, you may need service or replacement of ports or cables to get USB devices recognizing again.


In summary, these are the common reasons an external hard drive like Sandisk may not show up on a Mac:

  • Loose USB connections
  • Unsupported drive format
  • Faulty USB port
  • Damaged drive hardware
  • Outdated USB drivers

By methodically checking connections, trying different ports, reformatting the drive, updating drivers, and inspecting the drive health, you should be able to resolve most situations where a Sandisk or other external USB drive is not recognized on a Mac. If the drive still fails to show up after trying these steps, contact Sandisk support for warranty servicing or replace the faulty drive.