Meta-description: This can happen if the flash drive or USB port is broken, or in some cases, due to the file system of the drive not being recognized by the computer. 

Decided to transfer files from a flash drive to a MacBook or vice versa, but the computer can’t find it? This can happen if the flash drive or USB port is broken, or in some cases, due to the file system of the drive not being recognized by the computer. Here, we explain why your MacBook might not recognize the flash drive and how to fix it. 

7 Simple Ways to Get Your Mac to Recognize a Flash Drive 

Most often, the reason your Mac doesn’t see the flash drive is straightforward. To fix the situation and make the computer recognize the drive, just follow these simple steps. 

  1. Check the Power, Port, and Cable Connections 

Make sure the drive is connected to the laptop and that the adapter cables (if any) are correctly connecting the devices. If your Mac has multiple ports, try a different port. 

If this doesn’t help, it might be useful to test the ports by connecting other devices. If the computer ignores those as well, turn off the computer, disconnect the charger, and restart it. Also, ensure that the flash drive itself is functional. If your MacBook Air (or Pro) still doesn’t see the SD card, the USB ports might be faulty. 

  1. Check the Flash Drive Firmware and Computer Software 

The issue might be due to outdated software, so update it on the laptop, then try reconnecting the drive. 

  1. Compare USB Hub Specifications with the Flash Drive 

Both devices should operate at the same speed. For example, USB 3.0 SuperSpeed drives should be connected to a similar hub, not to USB 2.0 SuperSpeed. 

  1. Check if the Flash Drive Appears in “System Information” 

Press and hold the Option key on your Mac, then go to the Apple menu. Find the “System Information” section and check if the drive appears in the “Hardware” or “Devices” section. If the device appears but doesn’t work, look for solutions in the manual. 

  1. Disconnect Other Devices 

Sometimes, the issue lies with other devices connected to the computer. In this case, remove all unnecessary devices and leave only the flash drive. Reconnect the drive to the MacBook. If everything works fine, the issue is with the additional devices. 

  1. Reopen the Application 

Another way to access the flash drive on MacBook Air or Pro is to close and reopen the applications that use the drive. 

  1. Restart the Computer 

Often, a simple restart can resolve the issue. 

Formatting the Flash Drive 

Sometimes, the MacBook Air/Pro doesn’t recognize the flash drive because of its file system. For example, macOS doesn’t recognize NTFS drives, as they are formatted with a different file system. In this case, you can either install a paid utility (such as NTFS for Mac) that allows reading and writing files in Microsoft NTFS format, or use the second option — reformatting the drive to ExFAT or FAT, which work with both macOS and Windows. 

Note: Formatting will erase all files from the drive, so transfer any important information to another computer or storage device first. 

Here’s how to initialize the flash drive: 

  • Find the “Disk Utility” application on Mac. To speed up the search, go to Launchpad, type “Disk Utility” in the search bar, and click the icon. 
  • Select “View” and “Show All Devices.” 
  • In the left menu, select the drive to be formatted. 
  • Click the “Erase” button at the top. 
  • In the “Scheme” menu, choose one of the three options: GUID Partition Map (for use on Macs with Intel, Apple processors, and some newer PCs with Microsoft Windows), Master Boot Record (for Microsoft Windows), or Apple Partition Map (for older Macs with PowerPC processors). 
  • Choose the appropriate format: MS-DOS (FAT) for drives up to 32GB, and ExFAT for drives larger than 32GB. 
  • Enter a name for the volume, up to 11 characters. 
  • Click “Erase” and confirm your decision (“Done”). 
  • After this, you should be able to find the flash drive on your Mac. 

If it still doesn’t work, the problem is likely hardware-related, and it’s best to consult a specialist. Visit iSpace: we can help resolve the issue between the drive and the computer. We can also show you the latest Apple products that might interest and benefit you. Everything is on open display, so you can not only look but also test the devices. 

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