WD Elements Not Recognized Mac Title Image

When your Mac recognized happily your WD Elements external hard drive previously.

And now, you can’t work out the reason why it’s not recognized today.

Or when you’re new to using an external hard drive. You’re eager to use your WD drive but you can’t.

Here’s a list of WD Elements not recognized Mac solutions. To increase your chances of your drive working fine on your Mac.

Why Is My WD Elements Not Recognized On Mac?

When your Mac’s not perceiving your Elements external hard drive is attached.

Or your searching: ‘WD Elements blinking light not recognized Mac.’

Here is a list of things to work through to grow your chances of your drive working.

1. Check Your Mac’s Desktop Is Set To Show External Hard Disk.

This one for you if it’s the first time you’ve used an external hard drive on your Mac. Because you’ll need to set your desktop to show external drives.

This is what you should see on your Mac’s desktop.

WD Elements Drive Icon

If you’ve formatted your Elements WD drive for Mac. It’ll have the name you gave your drive under the icon.

When your WD Elements drive icon is nowhere on your Mac’s desktop.

Open up a Finder window.

And from your Finder window’s menu choose Finder preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

Click the general tab. You’ll need to put a check in the box show ‘External disks‘.

Finder Preferences Show External Disks
Finder Preferences Show External Disks

And your WD external hard drive icon should appear.

No joy?  Onto the next solution.

CLICK HERE: To Read A Review On WD Elements On Mac

2. USB Cable Check.

If your WD Elements external drive isn’t recognized today. But was before on your Mac.

Especially if there is no blinking light when you connect to your Mac’s USB port. For sure then your external hard drive has no power. Your WD external HDD gets its power from your Mac. No light. No power.

It’s incredibly common for a USB cable to go bad just like that. Because they get plugged in. Plugged out. Folded up. Shoved in backpacks.

They can break inside where you can’t see and then fail.

Put another USB cable between your Mac and your WD Elements. See then if your Mac suddenly recognizes your Elements WD drive.

Or try a new USB C adaptor if you’re using one to connect up your drive.

3. Connect Your USB Cable Into Another Mac USB Port.

When you plug in your drive. Your Mac sends power down to your external hard drive. And then software sitting on the USB port recognizes what USB device is plugged in.

But sometimes when you’ve used one USB device after another. That software just hangs up. And won’t recognized your WD Elements when you plug it in.

Connect up to another USB port on your Mac and see if that solves your recognition issue.

USB C Icon

4. Plug A Flash Drive. Or Thumb Drive Into Your Mac’s USB Port.

Is that recognized?

It could be your USB port doesn’t recognize any device right now. And your Mac needs a shutdown and reboot.

5. Using a USB Hub To Connect Your WD Elements?

Plug directly into your Mac if you can.

It’s not always possible on modern Mac’s as they have USB C ports. And the WD Elements has a USB type A connector on the end of its cable.

But if you can get a cable with the right end on it. For your Mac and your Elements drive – do.

That at least takes your USB hub out of the equation.

6. Have You Set A Password On The Elements WD Hard Drive?

Did you set a password up and drive encryption?

Did you set it up using Disk Utility on your Mac?

You can’t access your drive until you put in the right password.

7. Is Your WD Elements Hard Drive In A Format Your Mac Can Write To?

Are you google searching WD Elements Mac not recognized. But all the solutions listed so far in the post you’re going through one by one.

Saying ‘That’s fine, and so is that. But I still can’t put files on my Elements WD hard drive.’

When what you mean by WD Elements not recognized. – Is your drive seems somehow write protected or even blocked.

You can see all the files on there. Maybe you put them on using a Windows PC.

And it was all fine when you used your files on the PC.

And now you can copy the files off. But can’t update them on your external hard drive.

This is because Western Digital ships their Elements hard drive in NTFS file system format.

What’s that?

NTFS – New Technology File System. Is a Windows PC file system. Your Mac can read your WD external hard drive but can’t write to it. Or update or change anything on there while it’s in the file system.

To use on Mac you’ll need to reformat. Or use 3rd party NTFS driver software.

If there are no files on there you care about. And you want to save files to your WD Elements from your Mac. Then format. The article format WD Elements shows you now. Click on the link text.

Pick a format like Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Or APFS. Pick ExFAT if you plan to share your WD Elements with a PC.

MacBook Icon

8. Do A Full Shutdown And Restart Of Your Mac.

You’re now at the stage of needing to reboot your Mac. When you’ve tried everything else so far. And you’re still saying but still my WD Elements is not recognized on Mac.

Shutdown your Mac computer.

Click on the Apple logo at the top of your desktop. From the Apple menu pick Shutdown.

Wait 10 seconds or more. This is important that you wait this time.

Because this resets the operating system software on your Mac. And makes the full shutdown work.

After your wait. Power on. Wait for your Mac OS x to restart.

When your Mac’s log in screen appears. Log in. Wait for your desktop to fully come back up.

Then plug in your WD external hard drive.

Is your Elements WD hard drive not recognized on Mac solved?

No. Onto the next solution.

9. Another Shutdown To Reset Your NVRAM.

Your Mac’s NVRAM is a small bit of special memory. NVRAM holds data for your hardware settings.

Just occasionally your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Or iMac needs it’s NVRAM emptied out.

When you’re on an Intel Mac. Close down your Mac. And when you power on you. Hold down OPTION + Command + P + R keys. All at the same time.

Wait at least 20 seconds while your Mac boots up. And keep holding onto all the keys. Keep holding till you see your Apple logo. Or the second start up chime.

Then you can log in.

Has this solved your external drive not recognized problem?

No. Still there?

Finger Point Icon

10. Put Elements External Drive On A PC.

When a PC can use your Elements drive.

Your drive’s file system is NTFS and set up for a PC. Not a Mac.

If you don’t want to use driver software on your Mac. And your happy to format your external drive as ExFAT so both a Mac and a PC can use the data on your drive.

While you have attached your WD Elements to the PC. Copy every file off. So that your data is safe.

Then you’re free to change the file system of your WD hard disk drive.

11. Bring Your WD Elements To Different Mac.

Is your WD external hard drive recognized on another Mac?

If a different Mac can see your drive and its data. Then what’s same between your Mac and this one? What’s different? Different Mac OS x?

In there is a clue to what’s going on with your drive on your Mac.

But if another Mac can recognize your WD hard drive. You’ve a good opportunity to copy off your data.

And then you’re reformat the drive on your Mac to get it recognized again. Then copy your data back.

Question Mark Icon

12. Is Your Mac Running The Western Digital Software?

Have you installed WD Discovery? Or WD Drive Utilities Or WD Security?

Have you upgraded your Mac’s operating system recently?  If you have. It’s likely that the version of the Western Digital software you’re running, isn’t compatible with your version of Mac OS.

Or you could have installed new application software on your Mac. And it’s clashing with the Western Software.

Check if there is a software version that works on your Mac OS.

If there isn’t. And there isn’t any special software features in the Western Digital software tying you to it.

Get rid of the software off your Mac OS.

Quite often the ‘my Mac not recognizing my WD Elements’ clears up once the WD software is removed.

You can find out how to do that at this post here. How To Uninstall WD Discovery On Mac.

13. What Version of Mac OS Are You Running?

Is it an old version of the Mac operating system. If you can. And it doesn’t mean other software on your Mac won’t run. Upgrade to the latest version. The new version may just have a bug fix that solves your issue.

You can check for updates from your Apple menu.

Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update.

Take a backup of your Mac first.

This assumes your WD Elements drive isn’t your backup drive. If so get yourself another external hard drive to backup to.

Save any open files on your desktop before you upgrade.

14. Fix Your WD External Drive With Disk Utility First Aid.

Disk Utility is your Mac’s device manager app.

And as device disk management software you can use it to:

  • Check your Elements storage device.
  • Go through and check partition information. And the file system.
  • Repair your Elements external hard drive if it can.
  • Change your file system. Or rewrite a file system format on your Elements external hard drive.

You’ll can find Disk Utility through a spotlight search of your Mac.

Spotlight Search Symbol

Just type in Disk Utility.

When your Disk Utility window opens. Check you can see all levels of the storage device on your Mac.

Open your Disk Utility View menu. And pick the option to show all devices.

WD Elements Disk Utility View

Look in the Disk Utility screen side bar. It’s on the left hand of the pop up window.

Look under External. You’ll see your Western Digital Elements drive.

If not. Visit this article here. WD Elements Not Showing Up In Disk Utility.

Click your external disk drive at the top level.

WD Elements Disk Utility External Drive

Then look along the top of your Disk Utility pop up window.

Click the First Aid button.

Disk Utility Pick First Aid

Run Disk Utility First Aid on your WD hard drive.  And if First Aid can. It will repair your external hard drive.

Sometimes Disk Utility First Aid won’t run the first time. Just try it again. Or plug into another USB port on your Mac and run it from there.

If it runs successfully, you should be able to get to the data your external storage.

15. Tried Everything Else Now It’s Data Recovery Time.

You’ve gone through all the suggestions in this post.

Perhaps a few times.

And your external hard drive is just not recognized on your Mac.

When you’ve important files on your drive. Data you really have to try and get back. Then you’re at the point of using a data recovery service. Or buy some data recovery software.

Western Digital has its own data recovery service.

You’ll get no guarantee they’ll recover data. Or recover files. But they’ll give you a shot at it. And you may recover some files or some of your data.

You’ll have to weigh up if your need to get back your files is worth the cost.

In Closing

And I sincerely hope one of these Mac solutions now has your Mac recognizing your WD Elements.

The best protection against this type of disaster it to have your data on two Elements drives. And have one hard disk drive as a copy of the other.

Or a copy of your data in cloud storage.

Just in case.

While you’re here do take a look at the other Western Digital related articles we have on the site.

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Extra Resources

WD external drive is not seen by Windows or Mac