Fix USB Not Showing Up on MacBook PC

A USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable is an essential connection point between a PC (Personal Computer) and several other devices. A lot of productive time, money, and resources could be lost when it fails to show up.

Most modern personal gadgets today, such as printers, scanners, docking stations, external hard drives, pen drives, etc., rely on the USB ports on your computer for seamless data synchronization. 

Causes and Fixes for USB Device not Showing Up on MacBook PC.

This article will explore the various reasons why the USB device connected to your MacBook is not showing up and the best fixes to resolve the issues.

Let’s get into it now.

1. Technical Errors in USB Device Software Installation

Technical Errors refer to the issues that develop while running or operating an electrical gadget whose causes aren’t explainable.

In other words, there’s absolutely no reason for the device not to work, but it just won’t.

Technical faults in USB devices develop as data transmission errors while browsing through the USB device on the MacBook at a previous session.

Also, technical errors can arise from the incorrect or improper Installation of USB device software.

Fixing Technical Errors in USB Device Software Installation

  • Turn off all media devices connected to the MacBook and restart the MacBook.
  • Remove the USB cable from the port and reinsert it into a separate Port
  • If your Pen Drives or USB device comes with an installation package, ensure the installation disc is not damaged or corrupted
  • Uninstall the previous installation software from the MacBook. Go to Finder and drag the software icon into the trash folder.
  • Now reinstall the installation software and reinsert your USB device.
  • You can also reset your MacBook’s USB Port settings by restarting the MacBook, tapping on Command + Option + P + R keys, and waiting for the Apple logo to appear.
  • Now hit the Command + Option + ESC keys, and all applications that are slowing down the PC will close automatically. This will reset the PRAM (Parameter RAM) and NVRAM (Non-Volatile RAM).
  • Now insert the USB device, and if it still won’t show, put the MacBook on Sleep mode for 2 minutes.
  • Wake the MacBook PC by tapping a random key.
  • If the USB still won’t work, Shutdown the MacBook and remove its power cable for 2 minutes before restarting it.

2. Errors in USB System Information

The USB system information is the cheapest way to detect any technical or storage errors on the USB stick.

It reveals detailed information about your USB device, and when you can’t find the USB System Information, it means your MacBook can’t recognize the USB device; there’s probably a hardware fault at play.

  • To see the USB System information, head to Applications on your MacBook PC and click on Utilities.
  • Now select System Information and scan through to see if USB is detected. Click on the USB option to see the properties of your USB device.

3. Weak Power Output from USB Hub

For convenience and to multiply available USB ports, we use USB Hubs and Docking Stations to ease up our tasks.

However, one major setback encountered with some of the available USB Hubs is that they limit their output power when sharing data on multiple USB devices.

In simpler terms, for some of these hubs, the more connected USB devices, the weaker the input power available for each USB device.

Fixing Weak Power Output from USB Hub

The simple fix is to replace the USB Hub with a powered one.

Powered USB Hubs have their external adapter that maintains input current at standard ratings, regardless of how many devices are connected.

4. USB Stick Ejection Errors

So you’re done with your operations on the Pen Drive and wish to eject it from your MacBook, do you pull it out from the USB Port, or do you follow the technical method of ejection?

Most PC users go for the easier route, pulling out the USB stick once they’re done, unaware of the danger this poses.

The USB device might fail to load up on your MacBook if it wasn’t correctly ejected correctly after a previous session.

You can fix this by attempting a USB disc recovery or repair. If none of these options work, you should consider formatting the USB drive, although this might result in the loss of your files, so ensure you’ve exhausted other alternatives before attempting this method.

Other ways to recover the USB device include

  1. Using an antivirus software to scan and repair the USB device
  2. Ejecting the device from Task Manager
  3. You can also temporarily disable any currently active USB disc security software until the ejection is successful.

5. Unsupported Changes in MacBook Finder Preferences

Apple MacBooks come with a unique option called Finder Preferences that lets you organize your PC files and folders in the best ways that appeal to you.

Your MacBook not recognizing USB devices could be because of your current Finder Preferences, and resetting the Finder options to default might do the trick.

  • Tap on the Finder icon (which looks like a smiling human face in blue and gray) at the bottom of your display dock.
  • Now click on Finder and go to Preferences.
  • Slide to General and check the Harddisk, External Harddisk, CDs, DVDs, and iPods boxes.
  • Also, head to the Sidebar and check the External Harddisk option
  • You can now save your settings, close the window, and restart your PC.

6. Unsupported USB Stick File Format System

All external USB devices come in pre-defined file formatting systems that specify how data is stored and retrieved.

Most USB sticks and Pen drives come in the FAT32 file format system, while windows external storage disks are written in the NTFS file formatting system.

Unfortunately, not all PCs support all file formatting systems, and it’s essential to know which your MacBook supports.

The exFAT is generally accepted for most Windows and Mac PCs, while NTFS is read-only for Mac OS X.

You can verify the File Formatting systems available on your MacBook PC by checking the device information page.

Once you’re sure your USB device is running an unsupported File Formatting System, there are 3rd party tools used to format the USB device back to the supported formats.

These tools include the Mac OS Extended, FUSE (this formats your USB device to NTFS format and HFS on PC with the HFS Explorer.

7. Outdated MacBook OS and Firmware

Ensuring your MacBook PC is regularly updated is the safest way to maintain optimum functionality for your peripheral gadgets.

A MacBook not updated regularly will become problematic to any user as exposed to possible malware attacks.

We always advise you to perform a backup of your relevant files and software before updating the PC OS and Firmware.

  • Tap the Apple Menu icon at the bottom of your screen and select Preferences
  • Head to System Preferences and select Software Update
  • You can also head to the Appstore to update all outdated apps.

8. Presence of Malware and Virus in USB Device

While Apple MacBooks are probably the safest PCs available today, in terms of solid firewalls against viruses and malware, one can’t say the same for most USB devices plugged into the MacBook.

A Virus or malware-infected USB drive would fail to function correctly and remain hidden in your MacBook.

How to Fix A Virus/Malware Infected USB Drive

We recommend using widespread malware and virus removal tools.

Some of the most trusted are Trojorm Removal Tool, Shortcut Virus Fixer, USB Disc Security, Malwarebytes for Malware removal, Norton Antivirus, Kaspersky McAfee, and Avast Ultimate.

9. USB Device Format Errors

Many USB Pen Drives and flash drives require formatting to work correctly on PCs, especially when gotten new.

If it was pre-formatted and won’t show up on MacBook PC, you’ll have to format it on your MacBook PC.

There are instances where an old flash drive isn’t showing up and requires formatting; in that case, you should first recover your files using this Disk Data Recovery Software before formatting the USB device.

10. USB/Thumb Drive is Protected

Most USB drives, especially the Micro SD Cards, come with card readers that can lock manually; and for HDD (Hard Disk Drives) and SSD (Solid State Drives), you can secure your files with a password key.

If a USB drive is protected by the original owner, accessing its contents in your MacBook will be impossible without the password.

But what do you do if you lose the password for your USB drive or can’t reach the original owner who gave it to you?

Read on to find out.

How to Fix Protected USB Device

  • Slide the lock open to access its contents for a manually locked Micro SD Card or Flash drive.
  • If you used a password to encrypt your USB device, insert the encrypted USB drive into your MacBook, go to Finder, and right-click to open the USB drive.
  • Now select decrypt and enter your password to access the USB device.
  • If you forgot the password to your USB drive, there’s a way to still access the files in your USB drive using the recovery key and ID.
  • Insert the Flash drive into the MacBook and then tap on More Options when asked for the password
  • Tap on enter Recovery Key. When the recovery ID is displayed, you can enter the recovery key.
  • The recovery key ID is the name of the recovery file you saved when you encrypted the USB. Search for this file on your PC using the Finder menu and copy out the recovery key. It should be a string of 48 characters.
  • Enter the key to decrypt your USB flash drive.

11. Errors in MacBook PC SMC Settings

Your MacBook SMC Settings (System Management Controller) controls various functions in the PC, such as the behavior of the Power button, closing the lid, keyboard backlight, Battery Management, selecting the external or internal Video source for iMac viewing, etc.

You should change the SMC Settings whenever there are irregularities in the behavior of MacBook PC components, such as battery charging errors, PC fan misbehaving, and all general issues.

  • To reset MacBook SMC Settings for a MacBook with a removable battery, shut down the PC and remove the battery.
  • Press and hold the Power button for 5-7 seconds
  • Now reinsert the battery and power on your MacBook.
  • If you’re using a newer MacBook with an inbuilt battery, follow these steps to reset SMC Settings:
  • Shut down the PC by selecting the Apple menu, then go to Shutdown in the power options
  • Press the Shift + Ctrl + Option buttons with your left hand and the Power button with your right. Hold all these keys down for up to 10 seconds, then release them.
  • Now Power on your MacBook and reinsert the USB device.

12. USB Device Driver Installation Errors

A problem with your USB Device Driver Installation could hinder you from accessing the USB content on your MacBook. 

If that’s the case, a USB Driver update is required to restore smooth USB operations on your PC.

  • Tap on the Apple Logo at the bottom of your screen and head to System PreferNow select Software Update to check for any available updates.
  • You can also update the USB driver by going to the device manager and expanding the USB devices.
  • Tap on any of the drivers where an update is required and perform the update.

13. USB Device is Corrupted or Damaged

A corrupted or faulty USB device will not be detected in your MacBook PC.

You can attempt to repair the damaged sectors via MacBook First-aid Utility.

  • Search for First-aid Utility on your Finder options and select Disk Utility
  • Go to the USB drive and tap on First-aid to run the utility.
  • You’ll wait for the First-aid Utility to scan and attempt to recover your USB device.
  • If this fails, you can try other USB disk recovery software like Disk Drill, Recuva, and Pandora Data Recovery.

14. Faulty MacBook USB Port

Lastly, on our list, if none of these fixes above could get your USB to show up on your MacBook, then there’s a chance the USB port is faulty.

Most laptop and MacBook PC USB ports and internal components develop faults for several reasons, mostly beyond your control.

While you can attempt to troubleshoot this by restarting the MacBook, using a different USB port, or deleting unnecessary apps on the PC, we strongly recommend contacting Apple Technical Support Agents for more professional advice.

Do leave us a comment below and let us know in what ways this article was helpful to you.

Leave a Comment