Show missing hard disks in the Finder sidebar

FinderIconYosemiteXThe Finder sidebar is a convenient location to access frequently used items such as hard drives, various folders in your home directory, network shares, and any custom items you drag there. If you use the sidebar for accessing hard disks, then there may be times when certain hard disks do not show up here, while others do.

The likely reason for this occurring is if you have removed that specific hard drive from the sidebar. Even though the Finder has a sidebar setting you can check or uncheck to globally show or hide all external hard disks, there is a gray area where only some of these enabled items will be shown. This happens when you select and drag items off of your sidebar manually.

When you do this, while others will show up when you attach them, the drive you dragged off will not show, regardless of whether you unplug and plug it back in. While this may be desired in some cases, but could also have you assume hard drives are properly unmounted, and have you unplug them when they are not ready.

If you end up with a drive that does not show in the sidebar while others do, then you have two remedies:

1. Drag it back from the top level of the Finder

You can always open a Finder window and press Shift-Command-C to go to the top level of your computer, where you will see mounted network shares and hard drives. You can then locate the one that is missing from the sidebar and drag it back.

Missing hard drive in Finder sidebar

Drag the missing hard drive (this case being the one named “Untitled 1”) from the Finder to the sidebar.

2. Uncheck and recheck the Finder’s sidebar settings

If you have more than one drive that is missing from the Finder sidebar when attached, then instead of attaching each to add it back, go to the Sidebar section of the Finder’s preferences. In here you should see a dash in the checkbox of the “External Hard Disks” setting, indicating it is partially enabled. Click this until there is a check visible, which will have all drives show up properly.

Finder sidebar settings

Check the sidebar settings box until it appears as a check instead of a dash.

18 thoughts on “Show missing hard disks in the Finder sidebar

    1. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

      That’s overkill for the issue Topher is describing and probably would not affect it at all. The drives not showing in the sidebar is not a power or hardware issue. And resetting PRAM doesn’t affect most system preference settings, including those in the Finder. Resetting the PRAM has its uses but is not called for in this situation.

  1. Michele

    I’ve been having this problem for months. Clicking Shift-Command-C brought up a window that showed the drive, and dragging it to the “Devices” portion of a Finder’s Sidebar fixed the problem.
    Thank you!

  2. Michael Kocha

    Dragging my drive back in doesn’t seem to do anything. It’s showing the insert line like it should be inserting it into the side bar, but releasing the mouse doesn’t actually stick it back in there. I even tried rechecking the option and that doesn’t seem to do anything either.

    Anyone else have any ideas why this wouldn’t work for me? I was obviously somewhere else mentally and dragged the external drive off the sidebar thinking it would open it in a new window. I guess I was stuck on Chrome tabs or something.

  3. Jeff Pearson

    Have you tried Finder-Preferences-Sidebar-Devices and checked all the boxes there that you need to show up? Worked for me 5 minutes ago. HTH.

  4. craig barefield

    I’m curious about the dash “-“, and the meaning of it being partially enabled. I have an iMac, with only 1 INTERNAL hard drive called “Macintosh HD”, and the finder-preferences-sidebar-devices had a dash “-” next to the “HARD DISKS” category. If i change it to a check box, I can toggle it on / off, but i can never get it back to a “-“. So what exactly is that dash setting???
    The iMac has multiple user accounts so the accounts I have not altered this setting on, still have a dash “-“. My account will now only be a on or off check box, since I changed it.

  5. Diem

    I dragged & same thing, insert line appears but nothing happens. Also, external hard drive is checked in preferences but still not showing up. Anyone else have any clue to fix this?

  6. Marianne

    I accidentally clicked the “Hide” arrow to the right of the external HD and it disappeared. It is not showing up in Finder for me to drag back. Preferences in Finder show that External HD’s is checked, but it still doesn’t show up. I an’t figure out where to find it. I have two problems now…1) I need to drag files into it for backup immediately, and 2) I need to eject it because I can’t be dragging it around with my Mac and don’t want to just unplug it. Any ideas??

  7. rivalg

    I have the same problem. If I don’t edict the externals before I set the MacBook Pro to sleep, when I wake it up again it usually notifies me the externals should have been ejected before shutting the computer off. Why this? I don’t know – i put the system to sleep. So, to prevent ny disk damage the externals now before I put it to sleep I eject both drives. But the when the laptop is up, I can’t find the externals and the only way I can have them in Finder sidebar is by unplugging the externals from the USB ports. When I reconnect these, the devices show in finder’s side bar.

    I can’t find a way around this issue. Any thoughts?

  8. Tsultrim

    My bro did some clicking after that he says the seagate 1tb backup plus external hard drive was showing up in finder and desktop on his Mac pro notebook. He did say it could be due some software corruption because he clicked something and probably something go installed. He doubted seagate dashboard.

    Below are the troubleshooting steps that resolved the issue:

    1.checked the same external seagate 1TB on another mac thin air system and the harddrive was working fine.

    2.Checked a different seagate external hard drive on the Mac pro notebook and the external drive is not showing up in the finder or on desktop.

    3. Checked in Finder preferences>>General>>and ensured that “external disks” is checked under (show these items on the desktop.

    4.Checked the disk utility on the Mac pro notebook and the external drive is detected however it is not mounted.

    5. as per customer input suspected could be some hard drive application that is causing, removed the seagate dashboard application however, still same.

    6.Then checked for other unknown application related to hard drive. Found “Paragon NTFS” in the system preferences. (my external hard drives are formatted with ntfs.

    so uninstalled the third party Paragon NTFS application. Voila!! my external hard drives are back in finder and desktop.

    note:operating system is El Capitan

  9. Mimi

    This answer from above worked for me:

    Finder > Preferences > Sidebar > Devices

    You will see some bubbles-boxes. Mine was showing just a horizontal line (a dash) indicating that some of that category will show up. Clicking that bubble to be a checkmark (to indicate they should all show up) fixed it for me.

  10. JohnH

    I thought this was broken but turns out I had also clicked on “Hide” in the sidebar next to “Devices”. It only shows when you hover over the “Devices” line in the sidebar. If you have clicked hide “Show” will appear instead. This overrides any other changes you make like dragging drives back or changing sidebar preferences for drives.

    When you click show all your drives/devices will show up as long as you have them set to show in the sidebar preferences.

  11. kiran

    In my mac book os x wd passport hard drive was not ejected properly.after that its not appearing in finder but its appearing in disk utility.plz help me how can i get back in finder and data in hard disc is very important

  12. Dr.Gopalan

    I had a problem with my recently bought Seagate 2TB slim back up storage. this was connected to MAC PC and has been working well for the past 6 months. But today when I started my PC the external seagate disc was not getting activated and it did not show on my PC. Out of desperation I tried contacting few experts and failed to get a suitable response. I almost gave up my hope to get it functional. But as a last resort I tried Google search and spent a few hours with various option but no success. Finally i chanced on this web link

    To my SURPRISE this information helped me to restore my external disk. Trick was on uninstalling the third party Paragon NTFS application. this suggestion was made by Tsultrim
    January 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm, see link above,

    many thanks

    Dr.Gopalan, Srirangam, INDIA

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