How to fix the problem – WD My Passport external hard drive greyed out in Mac (Mount and Recover Files).

Updated on August 11th, 2021

Rohit Arora

Summary: Have you just found that your WD external hard drive is greyed out in the Disk Utility? Unable to mount, now you are wondering how to bring an external hard drive back to life? Don't worry; in this blog, we suggest some helpful methods to mount WD external hard drive, plus you can recover the contained data.
Not just Western Digital, but the shared methods apply to all brands of the storage drives.

How to fix the problem – WD My Passport external hard drive greyed out in Mac (Mount and Recover Files).

How to Mount a WD My Passport External Drive?

When plugged into Mac’s USB port, a healthy external hard drive gets readily available on the Desktop, Finder, and Disk Utility section. Further, transfer of files to-and-from the external hard drive is made possible when the device is successfully mounted on the Mac computer. Finally, after the job is done, you can safely remove the external storage device from Mac.

The Drive is Mounted

Why Isn’t WD External Hard Drive Recognized on Mac?

There are several possibilities for a WD My Passport hard drive going invisible on a Mac system. Those possibilities could range from:

  1. Corrupt partition table
  2. APFS or HFS file system
  3. Cryptic Disk errors
  4. Hard drive faulty cable
  5. Wear and tear
  6. Failed Restore
  7. Bad blocks on the surface
  8. Failed Partitioning on External Drive

Identifying an Unmounting WD My Passport?

You can try the below actions to determine if the WD external hard drive is mounting on your Mac:

1. Connect the WD My Passport external drive to your computer

2. Wait for the drive to appear in the Finder and Desktop. If the WD gives no response after getting connected with the Mac, go to Finder << Preferences and confirm if External Disks is selected.

External Disk Selected

On a healthier external drive, the above option works flawlessly. However, it may not work if your storage drive has one of those eight issues mentioned above.

3. Go to Disk Utility and identify if your WD external hard drive is listed on the left-hand side of the interface. Again, if the external drive is Ok, it will get listed without any issue; however, if the WD device is logically corrupt, it might appear in Disk Utility though greyed out. Also, a physically damaged external hard drive will not appear in the Disk Utility panel. For such cases, you need to contact a reliable data recovery lab service.

This is unmounted

Steps to Mount Back a Greyed out External Drive

(i) Select & Click Mount – Choose the external hard drive on the partition level and see if the Mount button is working? When clicked on a working device, the Mount button brings back the external hard drive for further access. However, if the disk is corrupt, then the Mount button may not offer any help. Try switching to the partition level and again press the Mount button.

Select and Click Mount

(ii) To Erase or Not to Erase the External Drive? – If you erase the non-mounting external hard drive with the Disk Utility, then it maps a new partition scheme on the device. Disk Utility will fix the problem, and you will be able to see your WD device again. But this operation will cause data loss on the external drive. Hence, this method is feasible only when the data inside the external hard drive is already secured somewhere, or data is of no use.

Dont Erase Unmounted Drive

(iii) A Better Solution – Ignore the Methods shared in (i) and (ii). Instead, try performing data recovery on the external hard drive first. Stellar Data Recovery offers a free version and a Pro version of data recovery software to help you recover files from an unmounted external drive. In the Free version, you can retrieve 1 GB of files from the external drive without any charge, whereas, in the Pro version, there is no limit of size. FYI, the Pro version comes with a cost of $79.99, and it has many benefits.

I recommend you try the Free Edition for your external hard drive recovery.

Step 1) Connect your external hard drive to Mac. Please ensure that your external device shows up in the Disk Utility, even as a greyed-out device.

Step 2) Download the software – Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition on your Mac.

Step 3) Use the toggle buttons to unselect a data type you don’t want to restore.

Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition

Step 4) Herein, select your greyed-out external hard drive and launch the scan.

Select location

Step 5) After the scan completion, you can preview the files listed by the software for data recovery. Then, select, preview, and press the Recover button to save the file(s).


Many users prefer to use the Free Edition in the first place since it can quickly recover a few essential files without any activation or payment. However, advanced users opt for the Pro version of the software since there is no capping on the data size. If you want to go with the Pro version, then you can compare and upgrade.

Should I Erase the Disk Drive Now?

Yes, once you have recovered the files using Stellar Data Recovery software, you can erase the greyed-out external hard drive with a new partition scheme. A new partition scheme will bring your external hard drive back to life.


I hope this blog helped you resolve the greyed-out problem of your external hard drive. If you have any queries about data recovery, then feel free to connect with Stellar.

About The Author


Vishal is a data recovery expert @Stellar. He addresses data loss scenarios on a Mac. He intends to help people solve their macOS problems. Besides, Vishal prefers to read about astronomy and autobiography, and his favorite is Steve Jobs - The man who thought different written by Karen Bluementhal. 

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  1. Hi, Just one more question, my MacBook has a 128GB SSD out of which less than half is left free. If the software detects recoverable data that is of more storage than the storage left on my MacBook, will it still be there for 2-3 days till I order a new WD Hard Drive to save that recovered data or I will have to scan my damaged hard drive again?

    1. Hi Arnav, you don’t need to scan again because Stellar Data Recovery Professional for mac allows you to scan the drive and recover data whenever you want. You can keep the scan data and recover it after when you got a new hard drive. Thanks

  2. Hi there,
    From reading one of the above comments I was going to try the “image from hard drive” settings. Can changing these settings be dangerous in terms of losing files? The settings under “Image from” say ..
    Format: read-only
    Encryption: none
    Is that what should be selected?

    1. Hello Jonny,
      You can use our data recovery software in order to recover data from unmounted drives. You can try Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac and perform “Can’t find volume” process in order to recover data from such conditions. Thanks

      1. Hi Vishal! My WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB fell from about a height of 3-4 feet and since then my MacBook is not able to detect it or any data of the drive. Also when I go to disk utility, the drive shows ‘not mounted’, and even after trying to mount it by clicking the ‘mount’ button it is not getting mounted. Also, in the bracket in front of the drive’s name, it says Journaled. I think the drive is physically damaged from the inside. Do you think the Stellar Data Recovery software can recover some files like photos and videos from the drive? Have you come across such cases where actually people got their data back from physically damaged drives by using this software?

      2. Hi Arnab, if the drive is showing in disk utility then you can try Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac. It will help you to recover data from that drive. One more thing if the drive is not showing and if you observed it has physical damage then take it to the nearest data recovery services center or you can contact our Technical Support Executive:

  3. I have MacOS High Sierra 10.13.6, and I accidentally disconnect my external USB drive without eject it properly. After that I had the same issue. It shown up in Disk Utility but greyed out after connected it back. Could not eject it, could not remount, virtually could not do any thing. I tried all the solutions posted currently, none worked. Rebooted my Mac and tried connect the drive again, no helps. It was still greyed out in Disk Utility… and finally, on Disk Utility, I right click on the greed out External, and selected image from …, hit the cancel button on the popup, and all the sudden, it became alive…. Not sure what is going on here, but I did not have to erase the drive. Whew…

    1. Hello Duke,

      Good that your drive is back to life again. You can run the first-aid repair to further determine the integrity of the drive.


  4. Hi Vishal, judging by the blog it appears to have lent good results.
    I dropped my passport and it now will not mount.
    It lights up and appears to spin with-out any friction or clicking.
    It recognizes the partions in light grey,i pushed mount and now reads disk 2s4 and so on.
    I used your stellar recovery volume 0 lost volume.
    Macpro high sierra 10.13.6.

  5. Being a photographer, I usually carry couple of WD My Passport drives. Recently the 2016 purchased drive was not mounting on the mac computer. Because it contains important client’s images, videos, the need of data recovery is must. Stellar restore all data from the inaccessible WD My Passport drive. Wow

      1. Hi Mary,

        Thanks for your inquiry.

        The trial version of the software allows you to preview all the recoverable data such as photos, videos, docs, emails, audio files. To save the data you need to register the software.

        Hope this helps.


  6. Hi there,
    I’m trying to use a brand new WD drive for my mac, which is running High Sierra 10.13.3, and I’m realizing I bought the drive formatted for Windows. I’m having a very hard time trying to get this drive reformatted for Mac. I’ve been searching forums but to no avail.

    When in Disk Utility, on the left, this drive is now called “disk3s1”. At the top of Disk Utility, underneath this title it says: “USB External Physical Volume – MS-DOS (FAT)”. I am struggling to get this drive converted for a mac now. Erasing, Partitioning, First Aid, Mount have all run into errors. Do you have a simple step by step of how to fix this?

    Like I said, I haven’t even used this drive yet and I’m running into problems already. 🙁

    Thank you in advance for any help.


  7. I’ve followed all these steps but once I’ve erased my drive it isn’t remounting again and I just get an error message?

    1. Hello Will,

      In Disk Utility select your WD and press Mount key. IF this works then you WD will remount. Else, try connecting your WD to another Mac.
      Please share the results with us.

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