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My iMac has been acting up lately it’s taking forever to respond so I am trying to get an external hard drive so I can format it and see if that fixes the problem. But I have already returned two hard drives that are not compatible with or at least I couldn’t get it to work (I did call Support I was over 45 minutes on the phone in each call) one was an SD and the other one is a WD. I still have to WD with me I have started the return process but I haven’t dropped it off. If you know how to get it to work in my computer I’ll just keep it and canceled the return.

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I have a Mac desktop running Mojave and Photoshop Cc. It is over 3 years old, and has 8GB of RAM. Its hard drive has 5GB free out of 5GB. The last time I shut down was last night. I have never run a cleanup program.

This is the hard drive I have.


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OK, see this here:

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 6.47.41 PM.png


This is your main problem. 8GB is barely enough to run today's modern software. You need more RAM. Unfortunately, this is not an easy thing to upgrade since you have a 21.5" iMac. The other problem is your under-powered Graphics Card. Your computer is meant for general computing. Which means, wasting time on Facebook, watching YouTube Videos, answering e-mails, and spending way too much on Amazon. Not photo editing.

It's like you bought a 2-Door Honda Civic and you really need a 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle to go off-roading in the mountains somewhere, complete with driving through rivers and mud. While an external HD will help you storage-wise, it's not going to solve your computer speed issues.

In a nutshell, you will need to find either a Authorized Repair Center that's open, OR find a Apple Store that you can drop your Mac off, because you have to completely and I mean, completely, tear your entire 21.5" iMac apart since there isn't an access panel to upgrade the RAM. The current 21.5" iMacs are basically sealed units encased in glue...they are a PITA to take apart. I've been a Senior Technician for close to 28 years, and *** I **** wouldn't dare take a 21.5" iMac apart.

Right now you have two choices.

  1. Fork out the money and get the RAM to the highest possible level, and that should be at least 16GB.
  2. Start Saving and buy a 27" iMac.

I'm sorry you have to find this out the hard way, since I know how expensive Macs are. Here is a blurb from this article of my thoughts on a 21.5" iMac:

On 11/9/2019 at 2:43 PM, Brian said:

Why the hate for the current iMac 21.5" models? About a decade ago, the 2009-2011 21.5" models were "fine." They just had smaller screens, but similar components to their larger counterparts. In fact, I was a happy Late 2009 21.5" iMac user.  That being said, IT IS NO LONGER THAT WAY. The reason is the 21.5" iMacs have slower CPU chips, slower motherboards, slower hard drives, under-powered graphics cards that do not play well with Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom, and the RAM can not be upgraded easily after the fact, as compared to the 27" Models. Well it can, but by an Authorized Apple Service Center or be upgraded at a Apple Genius Bar. This is due to the lack of an RAM-Slot Access Panel on the back of the iMac. Furthermore, you have to completely...and I mean completely, disassemble the ENTIRE 21.5" iMac to install additional RAM, since the RAM Sockets are on the back-side of the motherboard! Personally, I've been a computer tech for over 27 years now, and even I wouldn't take apart a 21.5" iMac. Don't believe me? Here is a YouTube video demonstrating the process. Notice how the Narrator mentions that you could possibly crack the display if you aren't careful when you are removing it? Umm...no thanks.

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You might really want to start saving. If you are staying with a Mac, and I'm a Mac user, then your budget should be around $3200 (US Dollars). Please give this article a read:


In short, Apple wants you to "Go Big or Go Home."

They have always been expensive. Actually, they are cheaper now. Way back in 1984, when the Macintosh Computer was introduced, the price was $2499.99. In today's money, that would be $6,262.73, which is the price for a fancy Mac Pro. So in reality, for what you are getting at today's price-point, a Mac is "cheaper" today than it was decades ago. It just still sucks that $3000 is still $3000.

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That’s definitely not what I wanted to hear. Over $1000 only to watch YouTube and Facebook really? Whether I decide to buy more RAM or a new computer, I still need to find out how to format that external hard drive to the computer right? Can you help me with that?

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Yeah, I know, it's NOT the thing you wanted to hear. Also, if you bought the lowest end 21.5" iMac, the one that is $1000. Guess what? IT IS NOT UPGRADE-ABLE AT ALL. If your cost was the $1499 one, then you can upgrade it. Well, Apple has to do it.

23 minutes ago, Marcela Serna said:

I still need to find out how to format that external hard drive to the computer right? Can you help me with that?

Yes, I can help you with getting that HD to work. It's easy.

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The first thing I want you to do, if you haven't already, is turn on the feature that allows you to see HDs and other "Mounted Devices" on your Mac Desktop. 

  • Open the Finder. The easiest way is to click the Smiley Face on your DockBar:


Screen Shot 2020-02-29 at 3.31.00 PM.png

  • Then head to the Finder Menu and select Preferences:

Screen Shot 2020-02-29 at 3.32.35 PM.png

  • Once there put checks next to these items and change the bottom to "Macintosh HD" if you want:

Screen Shot 2020-02-29 at 3.33.29 PM.png

  • From there, just click the Red Circle in the upper left corner to apply the changes.

Now for Part 2...

  • First, plug in new Western Digital External into a USB Port on your Mac. It may appear on the desktop, it might not.
  • Next, Open Disk Utilities. Head to  Applications Menu >> Utilities >> Disk Utilities.


Screen Shot 2020-02-29 at 3.27.22 PM.png

  • This is where your Disk Utilities might look slightly different. Anyway, here is mine:

    Screen Shot 2020-02-29 at 3.38.59 PM.png

At this point, you are going to have to work with me. Post a Screenshot in this thread of what your Disk Utility Window looks like and we will continue.

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Is the drive spinning at all? Meaning, do you feel it vibrating? Have you tried different USB ports on the back of your computer? Also, do you have a Thumb Drive? Some people call it a USB Stick or a Pin Drive. If you do, insert that into the back of your Mac, and it should pop up on the desktop now if you turned on all the check-boxes in my instructions above. If the Thumb Drive does not appear, I think there is something wrong with your USB ports and a trip to the Genius Bar (or call Apple) might be in your future. 

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