Safely Removing a Drive to Avoid the “Disk Not Ejected Properly” Alert in Mac OS X
The Mac issues a warning when an attached disk, drive, or volume has not been ejected properly, this is to insure against data loss on the drive in question, and it is good advice to follow. Of course the next obvious question for so many newcomers to the Mac platform is how on earth to properly and safely eject a drive to prevent this error and any potential problems.
While longtime Mac users probably know how to do this already, many new to OS X don’t, and though Windows has a little ‘safely eject disk’ dialog that pops-up from the Start bar, what are are Mac users to do? Despite not being entirely obvious for the less experienced, it’s actually very simple to safely remove a drive and avoid that “Disk Not Ejected Properly – Eject “DISKNAME before disconnecting or turning it off.” alert message appearing in Notification Center. Again, it’s important to properly eject a volume so that you don’t inadvertently experience or cause data loss to the drive in question.
Note: this applies to all connected writeable drives, including external hard drives, USB thumb drives, backup disks, etc. The potential for data loss due to inadequately removing a storage volume applies to each device, thus it’s best to get in the habit of manually starting the removal process before yanking the attached storage device or USB cable out of a Mac.
How to Safely Remove a Drive By Properly Ejecting a Disk via Finder Sidebar
Perhaps the easiest way to safely eject a connected disk is through an OS X Finder windows sidebar. All you need to do is locate the disk in the “DEVICES” submenu of the sidebar, hover the cursor over the name, and click the little eject button:
Wait a minute or two and the disk will finish ejecting. Now you can safely remove it from the Mac and you won’t get that alert dialog popping up.
If you see any error messaging, it’s probably due to the disk being busy from activity through an application, whether that’s from a Time Machine backup or an app saving or writing something to do the disk in question. If that’s the case, either wait until the task finishes, or quit out of the application in question.
You can also eject disks safely by selecting it within the Finder, and then going through the Finder menu:
Additionally, there are standard ejection methods that use keyboard shortcuts, dragging the drive icons into the Trash, or even the old-fashioned eject key that persists on Apple Wireless keyboards and the few remaining Macs with SuperDrives.
Yes, this is a fairly basic task, but it has become increasingly confusing for many users who are new to the Mac platform. Interestingly, prior versions of Mac OS X actually did tell you exactly how to properly eject a disk in the alert dialog box that popped up when a disk was not safely removed:
Despite the many user-friendly advances to more modern versions of OS X, the new Notifications Alert based system sort of misses a beat here, just telling users to simply ‘eject’ the disk beforehand.