How to Open a Flash Drive on Mac (with Photos)

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How to Open a Flash Drive on Mac (with Photos)

Opening a flash drive and accessing its files is a pretty easy and straightforward process on a Mac. However, it can be confusing if you haven’t worked with one before, but opening a flash drive on a Mac is actually very similar to opening one on a Windows PC.

In some cases, you may not need to open the flash drive. For example, if you are trying to edit a file on the flash drive, you can go to the program and locate the file directly. So, if you need to edit a document, go to your preferred word processing software and choose to open an existing file. Regardless, it is a good idea to get familiar with your Mac, and opening a flash drive is an important ability.

Discover the super simple steps to get the job done!

Steps to Open Your Flash Drive on Mac

Step 1: Insert your flash drive.

The first thing you need to do is ensure that your Mac is on and then insert your flash drive. You can use any available USB port on your Mac to connect the flash drive. Remember that some MacBooks only have USB-C ports, so you may need an adapter if you use a regular USB-A flash drive.

flash drive mac
Insert your flash drive into your Mac’s USB port.

Step 2: Open Finder.

Once your flash drive is plugged into your Mac, it is time to open Finder. You can locate it on the bottom menu bar; it is usually located to the far left. The icon for Finder is a smiling blue face; simply click on it to open the menu.

For Windows users, this is the equivalent of Windows Explorer and allows you to easily navigate through all of the computer’s files.

flash drive mac
Open Finder.

Step 3: Locate the flash drive.

With Finder open, navigate to the left side of the screen, where there is a directory of different folders on your computer. You should see the name of your flash drive appear here alongside the computer’s hard drive. After locating your flash drive, click on it to open its contents.

If your flash drive is not visible, read the section “Flash Drive Not Visible in Finder” to fix the problem. It is relatively common for this to occur, especially if this is your first time trying to access a flash drive.

flash drive mac
Under Location, find your flash drive and click on it.

Step 4: Access the files.

Once you have located and opened the flash drive, it is time to start navigating around it. You can either work with files while the flash drive is still plugged in, or you can transfer the files to your Mac to use them.

Keep in mind that if you don’t transfer the files to your computer, you will need to keep the flash drive plugged in while working with any of the files on it.

flash drive mac
Now, you can access your flash drive’s files.

Flash Drive Not Visible in Finder

If you tried locating your flash drive in Finder but it is not showing up, then you may need to change a setting.

While in Finder, go to Preferences on the top left and click the Sidebar tab. Once on the tab, check that the box next to External Disks is checked.

You may also want to check all of the boxes in this window to make sure that all available storage devices show up in Finder. If you still can’t access your flash drive in Finder, then there may be a problem, such as being unreadable on a Mac. You can double-check that the flash drive works by trying to open it on a different computer.

Using Removable Storage

Removable storage devices such as flash drives are a great way to expand your Mac’s storage. They are also one of the easiest ways to transfer files from one device to another. Plus, you can move files between home and work or school without having to bring your personal computer.

While flash drives are one of the best removable storage devices, they are not your only option. You can also consider using a portable or external hard drive if you need more storage space. These are great for storing large amounts of data or backing up your computer.

SD cards are another way to store data because they are so compact. Although they are normally used for cameras, you can also use them to store regular data on like a flash drive. The only downside to using an SD card for removable storage is that it may require a USB adapter.

Consider Cloud Storage

With the rise of the cloud comes cloud storage, which is a great option for storing any files that you may have. The biggest benefit of choosing cloud storage is that your data is always accessible no matter what computer you are on. Similarly, you don’t have to worry about keeping track of physical storage devices.

Cloud storage is also limitless, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space. With a flash drive or portable hard drive, you could eventually fill it and have to buy a whole new device, but with cloud storage, you can just pay for more space. However, that is one of its downsides, as you have to pay for space either monthly or annually, compared to physical storage, where you only pay once.

Can’t Connect Flash Drive to Mac

There are a couple of reasons that you may not be able to connect a flash drive to your Mac. The main one is that newer Macs, such as the MacBook Air, do not have the USB-A port that most flash drives use. So, instead, Apple chose to use USB-C, which is actually a good thing because they are much more versatile.

However, you will need a USB-A to USB-C adapter or a hub to be able to connect your older storage devices to a newer Mac. In some rare situations, you may not be able to connect a flash drive to a Mac if it is in the wrong format. If this is the case, you should be able to see the flash drive on your Mac and reformat it.


Opening a flash drive on a Mac is very easy, even if you haven’t used one before. Just plug in your flash drive to an available USB port and locate the drive on Finder. Once you find the drive, you can move files around or even access them directly on the drive.

The biggest problem is Apple’s decision to forego USB-A ports on the newest Mac computers. Meaning, many Mac owners must carry an adapter around to access most standard flash drives. Thankfully, these are readily available, and USB-C flash drives are sure to gain traction in the near future.

Check out the video below to learn more about opening flash drives on a Mac.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will any flash drive work on a Mac?

Nearly any flash drive will work on a Mac, so there is no need to buy a specialty drive. However, you may need a USB adapter.

Will a Mac open files created on Windows computers?

Yes, most files created in Windows can be opened on a Mac as long as you have the proper programs to read the files.

What type of flash drive should I buy?

Buy a flash drive that is large enough to store all of your data. It is also a good idea to purchase one from a reputable manufacturer such as Sandisk or Kingston.

Does Apple make a flash drive?

Apple does not make a flash drive; however, you can use their iCloud storage to safely store your files on the cloud.

What is the difference between a flash drive and portable hard drive?

A flash drive uses flash memory to store your data which has no moving parts, whereas a portable hard drive uses spinning platters like a regular hard drive to store data.

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