After upgrading from Lion to Mountain Lion, my MBP does not show icons for external drives on the desktop any more. In the Finder preferences, “External disks” is checked under “Show these items on the desktop”. Any ideas?

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    Alex, I still see external drives icons on my desktop. Can you confirm that the external drive(s) are accessible within Finder in the left column? The only time that my icons disappear is when the drives aren't mounted. – JW8 Aug 1 '12 at 18:28
  • Same here; it works fine for me. The problem you're having isn't with Finder. – pasawaya Aug 1 '12 at 19:37
  • Try 'unsetting' the preference, logout, the reset the preference. – IconDaemon Aug 1 '12 at 20:35
  • @JW8, yes the drives are fine. They appear in the Finder sidebar and under /Volumes; and they work just fine. – Alex Aug 2 '12 at 10:26
  • @IconDaemon, thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately it did not help. – Alex Aug 2 '12 at 10:27

Somehow, the upgrade to Mountain Lion enabled the hidden Finder setting that completely hides desktop icons. You can reenable it using

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true

There's a much easier way of doing this. Go to Finder-->Preferences and the select the items you want to show on the desktop. Options are hard disks, external disks, "CDs, DVDs, and iPods," and Connected servers.

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    This is independent of the setting I mentioned. – Yes, if you disable the external disks in the Finder Preferences, they won’t show up either. So the preference you point out may help. It is incorrect, however, that this is "much easier", because it is unrelated. – Alex Oct 27 '12 at 16:24

Aha! Just after posting my own frustration with this problem, and how none of the solutions provided here were working for me, I noticed one stray white pixel at the top left of my screen. Turns out it was the edge of the text name of a missing drive icon.

It appears that some drives are mounting with their icon at the screen origin (or possibly even further offscreen).

Try using "Clean Up By Name" to bring the drive icon back onto the screen. If that fails, this might work:

  1. Click anywhere on the desktop.
  2. Type the first few characters of the name of the missing drive.
  3. Hold the Shift ⇧ key and click on another icon.
  4. Drag the second icon around and see if the missing one is coming along for the ride.
  • hahaha this one is really great and easy to do, thank you! I noticed that icons sometimes are sent off screen when working with external screens that are often connected and disconnected... – benjamin.ludwig Jun 18 '15 at 4:35

I had a similar problem. After upgrading to Mountain Lion on my iMac, Finder would display my external hard drive icons on the desktop, but would not list them in any Finder windows, including upload windows opened by websites (ie blogs, Facebook).

After viewing Xavi's Youtube link (thank-you Xavi! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8tqZSBs-4k), I discovered that Mountain Lion hides a number of items from appearing in your Finder window and sidebar by default.

Just go to Finder>Preferences>General and look for the 'New Finder Windows Show:' option, and choose 'All my Files'.

Also, you'll want to go to the Finder>Preferences>Sidebar tab and make sure that your external drives are check marked, not ticked (-). Hope this helps!

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