WD Elements for Mac, Use on Mac, Lose the Issues

By Simon Irons / September 8, 2019
WD Elements For Mac Title Image

Is WD Elements Compatible with Mac?

And the related question can you use your WD Elements on a Mac?

The answer is yes. Your WD Elements drive can work great on your Mac.

But there are a couple of things you need to know and do to get it set up just fine.

You’ll learn here the things you need to know about using your WD Elements for Mac.

And some of the potential pitfalls.

Plugging in your WD Elements USB Cable into your Mac

Your WD Elements portable hard drive has a USB 3.0 type A connection to your Mac.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

Why is that important?

Is your Mac an iMac 2017 or later? Or MacBook Pro 2016 or newer?

Or MacBook Air 2018?

If your answer is yes then your Mac will have a USB C (Thunderbolt) port on it.

USB C Thunderbolt 3 Ports
USB C Thunderbolt 3 Ports

You’ll be able to use your WD Elements drive. But you will need an adaptor to plug the USB cable from your Elements drive into your Mac.

These adaptor cables are easy to get from Amazon.

And should your Mac be an older Mac with USB 2.0.

Your fine. 

The USB cable provided will fit. And your WD elements drive will work at USB 2.0 speed to match your Mac.

You’ve Plugged in and WD Elements not Showing up on Mac?

You’ve logged in and connected up your WD Elements external hard drive on your Mac. You were expecting to see the drive icon on the desktop.

New Drive Icon On Desktop
Drive Icon On Desktop

But it’s not there?

The first thing to check is your Finder Window Preferences.

Open up a finder window.  Go to preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

In the finder preferences pop up window be sure you’ve checked the ‘Hard Drive’ and ‘External Drive’ boxes.

Finder Preferences Show External Drive
Finder Preferences pick to Show External Drive

Then your WD Elements external drive’s icon should appear.

What if your WD Elements is Still not Showing up on Mac?

Using Your WD Elements On Mac?

Your WD Elements drive is bus powered.

What does that mean?

It means that your Elements drive takes its power from your Mac. Your USB cable both powers your Elements drive. And transfers your documents backwards and forwards.

WD Elements USB Cable
WD Elements USB Cable

Great. Because you don’t have to worry about carrying another power plug and its cable around with you. Particularly when you take your Elements drive out and about with your Mac.

But because your WD Elements drive gets its power from your Mac check your Mac is charged enough. Or plug in your Mac so that your Mac doesn’t run out of power part way through a large transfer of files.

Is Your WD Elements Drive Read Only on your Mac?

When shipped to you your Western Digital Elements drive is in a format called NTFS. NTFS is a PC format that a Windows PC uses. Your Mac can see and read your NTFS Elements drive.

But when you want to put documents on the drive, or update any files on the drive your Mac says no. You can only read your Elements external hard drive.

Don’t fret you can change the formatting.  By reformatting your WD Elements for your Mac.

How do I Format WD Elements for Mac?

To use your WD Elements drive on your Mac you need your Elements drive in HFS+ format. This formatting is also known as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.  Don’t worry about the name.

Just know that this is a file system that your Mac uses for a Time Machine backup.

And if you want to copy and paste files.

Or drag and drop files from your Mac onto your WD Elements drive. 

It’s the format you use when you want to use your WD Elements drive just for your Mac.  Because a Windows PC can’t see a HFS+ drive when it’s plugged in.

To set up your WD Elements drive to work on your Mac you’ll need to format it for Mac.

You’ll find my article on how you format the WD Elements hard drive here.

Click over and in a few minutes you’ll have the formatting all done.

WD Elements LED

How Can You Use Your WD Elements Drive without Reformatting?

Formatting will erase any documents you have on your WD Elements drive.  So if you’ve put files on there from your Windows PC. And really what you want to do is use the drive without changing anything on there. 

There is software you can use that leaves your Elements drive in NTFS formatting. But makes it read and writeable from your Mac.

It’s the option to choose when you mainly use your WD Elements drive on your Windows PC. And sometimes you use your Elements drive on your Mac.

You can read my document here all about it.

Using Your WD Elements Drive on Your Mac and a PC

Yes you can use your WD Elements drive for both a Mac and a PC if you want.

And particularly if you want to use for both without using special software. And its easy to do.

You just connect up your WD Elements drive to your Mac and format it to ExFAT.

There are some articles around on the web suggesting FAT32.  And yes you can set your Mac to format your Elements drive to FAT32. FAT32 is compatible with Mac and Windows. But these days the FAT32 file system is outdated, not as sturdy and has file size restrictions.

ExFAT is freely read and writable by both your Mac and Windows PC. Both operating systems can see an ExFAT file system. And use the files, photos, movies, music, in fact any files that are on there.

You can find out how to Format your WD Elements external hard drive for Mac and PC using my article here.

WD Elements Flat

Your WD Elements Drive Not Working on Mac?

Having problems with your Western Digital Elements drive working. And then not working on your Mac?

1. When you formatted your WD Elements did you check that the format scheme was ‘GUID Partition Map’? You’ll have problems with formatting the drive without setting the scheme right. Because NTFS is set up differently. And a set up hang over from NTFS will mean odd problems with your Elements drive.

2. You should try repairing your Elements drive in Disk Utility using the First Aid option.  That may solve your problem.

If the drive is in a poor state First Aid may well tell you to erase the drive.

Which means starting from scratch and loosing the files on there.

3. Did you download Drive Utilities from the Western Digital site onto your Mac?

Yes, Drive Utilities allows you to run a check on your WD Elements drive. And you can see if the software reports any errors on the drive.

But did your problems with the drive show up after you downloaded this software?

Check that your version of the Western Digital software is compatible with your Mac’s operating system.

You could have problems with your Mac OS clashing with the WD Drive Utilities software.

If you’re one of those having problems with your WD Elements drive working and then not. And for no real reason you can see. Then uninstall the Western Digital Utilities.

You can do that by using the WD Uninstaller in your Application’s folder.

And your on and off issues with your WD Elements drive should go away.

Why won’t My WD Elements Drive Backup?

Having problems with your Time Machine backups failing to your WD elements drive?  This seems another type of conflict with the WD Disk Utilities software.

Check the software version your using. Is it for your version of Mac OS?

Try uninstalling the WD Disk Utilities. Then see if your Time Machine Backup issues disappear.

Last Words

Yes, WD Elements is basic storage for your Mac. And it usually works great on Mac. But if you have problems use my tips here. And have your WD Elements for Mac and lose your issues.

You can discover other articles on the site all about your WD Elements drive.

Why not check them out.

WD Elements Review – What the Smart Mac Would Choose

WD Elements VS My Passport Which is Best for Your Mac?

Format WD Elements for Mac. How? In 7 Quick Steps

WD Elements Partition Mac, 6 Steps to Partition Fast

Format WD Elements for Mac and PC, Have your Drive for Both

WD Elements Time Machine, Turn ON Your Backup