Why and how to safely eject media drives from your Mac

Every time you connect an external peripheral to your Mac, such as an SD card, an external hard drive, or a USB flash drive to transfer files, you should safely eject it when you’re finished using it. In this post, we’ll talk a little bit about why it’s important to follow this process, and we’ll also show you various ways of doing it.

Ejecting SSD from Mac
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Why you should safely eject external drives

When you’re not careful to eject media from your Mac safely, bad things can happen.

Your Mac is not always going to be 100% finished using your drive just because you are. For this reason, you need to let your Mac know that you’re done using it by ejecting it safely. If you don’t, you may damage data on the media drive itself.

Some examples of where removing a drive too early can damage the drive or your computer include:

  • When you’re performing installations from files via the drive
  • When you’re copying files to/from the drive
  • When an open application is using files from the drive
  • When the drive is in the middle of being erased or formatted
  • and more…

This can lead to corruption that essentially causes you to have to reformat the drive completely, which really sucks if it’s your only backup of something important; trust me, I’ve been there and done that.

When you fail to eject media drives safely, as in you remove it before ejecting it, your Mac will give you an error message saying that the disk was not removed properly. This warning message is there to help teach you to develop a habit of ejecting your drives safely:

Mac Disk Not Ejected Properly Error

5 ways to properly eject media drives from your Mac

There are multiple ways to eject media drives such as SD cards, external hard drives, and USB flash drives from your Mac, so you should really get used to using one of the methods we’re about to show you rather than getting comfortable with just pulling the drive out of its plug when you’re done using it.

1. The right-click method

When you have a media drive connected to your Mac, it will typically show up on your Desktop unless you’ve specifically configured your Mac not to show drives on your Desktop.

To eject drives using the right-click method, simply right-click on the drive you want to remove, and click on the Eject “[insert drive name here]” button.

Eject Media With the Right Click Menu on Mac

Then, just wait until the drive disappears from your desktop before pulling it out. This can sometimes take up to 5 seconds.

2. The Finder menu method

Another way to safely eject media drives from your Mac is to open a Finder window while you have a drive plugged into your computer.

At the bottom of the sidebar in the Finder window, you should see the drive you mean to remove under the Devices list. Simply click the Eject button to the right of the media drive’s name to safely eject it.

Eject Media With Finder Window Button

Now, just wait until the drive disappears from the sidebar; when it does, you’re safe to remove it from your computer.

3. The Trash method

The last way we’ll be showing you to safely eject media from your Mac is the Trash method.

With this method, you can simply click and drag any connected media drive icon to the Trash icon on your Dock, and the Trash icon will be replaced with an Eject icon.

After dragging, you can release it over the Eject icon, and this will safely eject the drive from your Mac to be removed.

Eject Media With the Mac Trash Icon on the Dock

Now, just wait until the icon disappears from your Desktop before you remove the drive, and you’re good to go.

4. Eject from Disk Utility

Follow these steps if you can’t see a connected external drive on the desktop or the Finder:

  1. Open the built-in Disk Utility app on your Mac.
  2. You will see the connected drive here under the External heading. Right-click over the drive name and choose Eject. You can also select the drive and click File > Eject from the top menu bar.
Eject drive from Disk Utility on Mac

5. Use third-party apps

Finally, you can also explore apps like Ejectify that will help you eject external drives and also offer additional options.

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