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Fix 'Can't Eject External Hard Drive' Error on Mac in 5 Practical Ways 2021

Tracy King

Sep 27, 2021 to NTFS for Mac

0 Views 0 min read

It doesn't matter when your external hard drive is not ejecting on Mac computers. It could be multiple reasons that caused an external hard drive won't eject error. Follow this page, you'll find the causes of this error and how to successfully eject your disk on Mac with 5 practical methods.

Let's get started.

Applies to: eject or force to eject external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, etc., on macOS and Mac OS X without losing any data.

Quick Guide: 5 Ways to Eject External Hard Drive on Mac

1. EaseUS Automated Ejection Tool Launch EaseUS NTFS for Mac on Mac computer...Full steps
2. Stop Running Apps Press the Command + Space key to open Spotlight...Full steps
3. Log Out and Log In Apple Account Click the Apple menu icon and click "Log Out"....Full steps
4. Shut Down or Force to Quit Go to the Apple menu, click "Shut Down". ...Full steps
5. Use Terminal On Apple Menu, click "Go" > "Utilities"...Full steps

What Does Eject Mean?

Eject is an action that Mac users apply to safely unplug a drive or an external storage device from Mac computers without affecting data and the drive itself. When you directly unplug an external hard drive without ejecting it from Mac, it will cause data loss or even drive inaccessible error.

There are three normal ways that people apply to eject a drive on Mac:

  • Select the drive > File > Eject.
  • In Finder, click "Eject" next to the drive.
  • Drag the drive icon to Trash for ejection.

However, some Mac users reported that they can't eject external hard drives on Mac even following the above three device ejection operations. We'll discuss the reason that caused this error in the next part. Move on and find check out the causes.

Error: Can't Eject External Hard Drive Mac - Causes & What-To-Do

When you receive this message or a similar warning on a Mac computer while trying to eject an external hard drive, it means that you didn't or failed to eject the drive successfully:

"The disk wasn't ejected because one or more programs may be using it."

Error message of can't eject external hard drive on Mac

So what caused this error? Here are the possible reasons that Mac computer refuse to eject the drive:

  1. 1. The external hard drive or files inside the drive is currently in use.
  2. 2. Some apps or drivers are using the drive in the background.
  3. 3. The drive is being occupied by a processing program.
  4. 4. Mac refuses to force eject drive due to data protection mechanism.
  5. 5. Malware infection, etc.

What do I do if my external hard drive won't eject? Here are some dos and don'ts tips: 

Dos Don'ts
  • Keep all files safe and intact. 
  • Make sure no files are being used or occupied on the drive.
  • Close all running programs or apps that may use your drive.
  • Don't force eject the drive directly.
  • Don't format the drive in rush.
  • Don't unmount the drive.

Fix 'Can't Eject External Hard Drive' on Mac in 5 Ways [2021 Guide]

Once you confirm that you've kept your disk and its data safe and intact by following the Dos and Don'ts tips above, you can follow any one of the 5 methods here to fix this issue: 

  1. #1. Safely Eject External Hard Drive with Automated Ejection Tool
  2. #2. Stop Running Apps and Eject External Hard drive
  3. #3. Log Out and Log In Apple Account
  4. #4. Shut Down or Force to Quit Mac
  5. #5. Eject External Hard Drive on Mac via Terminal

Notes: For an automated and reliable fix to safely eject your external storage devices, don't miss automated EaseUS NTFS for Mac. 

Let's start.

#1. Safely Eject External Hard Drive with Automated Ejection Tool

Tool: EaseUS NTFS for Mac - 1-Click Device Jection Tool

Download:

Automated device ejection tool - EaseUS NTF for Mac is mainly designed for Windows NT file system drives on Mac. It enables you to read, write, and even access NTFS files on Mac without formatting. This software also helps to fix the 'can't eject external hard drive or USB' error on Mac in just one simple click.

Here is how to use it:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS NTFS for Mac on Mac computer, click "I already have a license" to activate this software.

Activate EaseUS NTFS for Mac

Step 2. Let EaseUS NTFS for Mac detect the connected drive that you want to eject.

Eject NTFS drive from Mac

Step 3. Once detected, select the target drive and click "Eject". This will safely remove your drive without affecting the saved files and data.

Eject target NTFS drive from Mac

Besides ejecting devices on Mac, you can also apply EaseUS NTFS for Mac to fix these issues:

EaseUS NTFS for Mac

Video Tutorial: How to Use EaseUS NTFS for Mac

#2. Stop Running Apps and Eject External Hard drive

Tool: Activity Monitor

Download: The tool is pre-installed on Mac, download is not necessary.

Activity Monitor is an application available in the Utilities folder that helps to monitor and identify the process running on specific disks. When you can't eject an external hard drive from a Mac computer, it could be one or more programs running with the disk in the background.

You can apply this tool to locate the running apps and stop it, then ejecting the disk from Mac.

Here are the steps that you can follow:

Step 1. Press the Command + Space key to open Spotlight. 

Open Spotlight

Step 2. Search Activity Monitor in the spotlight and click to open it.

Step 3. Go to the Disk tab, find QuickLookUIService in Disk Usage by each process.

Or, you can search it in the search box. 

Step 4. Select it and click the "Close" icon on the left top pane.

End running process that use external hard drive  

Step 5. Click “Force quite" to quick the process.

Force to quite running process

Step 6. After this, you can eject the external hard drive from Mac in the normal way. 

Safely eject external hard drive from mac

#3. Log Out and Log In Apple Account

Tool: Apple Menu

Download: Apple built-in tool, downloading is not necessary.

When you can't eject an external hard disk or storage device, first, as recommended above, make sure that you've saved all files and ended all running processes. Then you can resolve this issue by logging out and logging in to Mac with the steps below:

Step 1. Click the Apple menu icon and click "Log Out".

Log out mac

Step 2. Then click "Log In", sign in with your own Apple account and password.

Log in Mac

Step 3. Try to eject the external hard drive from Mac again.

#4. Shut Down or Force to Quit Mac

Tool: Apple Menu

Download: Apple built-in tool, downloading is not necessary.

Besides log out and log in, the next method that also helps to fix the 'Mac not ejecting external disk' error is to shut down or force quit Mac computer. Remember to save all running files and close all processing programs before trying this method.

Here are the steps:

Step 1. Go to the Apple menu, click "Shut Down". 

Shut down mac

You can also click "Force Quit" in the drop-down menu.

Force quite mac

Step 2. Wait for the Mac computer to shut down, and then disconnect or unplug the external hard drive.

#5. Eject External Hard Drive on Mac via Terminal

Tool: Terminal

Download: App is preinstalled on Mac, downloading is not necessary.

Note that running Terminal command to eject an external hard drive from Mac is an action to force quite the drive. So make sure that all the files were saved intractably and no programs are running background.

The command lines to quit the external hard drive from Mac are a bit complex. Stay cautiously while following the steps below:

Step 1. On Apple Menu, click "Go" > "Utilities".

Open Utilities

Step 2. Double-click "Terminal" to launch the app.

Launch Terminals

Step 3. Type the command lines here one by one and press "Return" each time:

  • diskutil list external
  • diskutil eject disk(number)

You should replace (number) with the right disk number of your external hard drive in the command list.

eject external hard drive form terminal

After this, the Mac computer will safely eject the drive without affecting the saved files on it.

Pick a Right Method to Fix "Can't Eject External Hard Drives" on Mac, Keeping Your Files Intact

On this page, we presented you with the causes that block you from ejecting drives from Mac computers. To fix this issue, you can simply pick one of the recommended methods and follow its respective guidelines to remove the storage device from Mac on your own.

For the easiest solution, EaseUS NTFS for Mac is a second-to-none choice that we suggest you try. 

Remember that force quitting drives from Mac may unplug the drive but the saved files are data may also be in danger. It's essential that you pick the right method to fix the "can't eject external hard drive' error on Mac so as to keep your files safe.