How to use target disk mode to move files between two Mac computers

Use target disk mode to make one Mac appear as an external hard disk on another Mac, allowing you to quickly browse and copy files.

Target disk mode can be useful when you need to move files quickly between computers, or get files from a Mac that doesn't have a working display. It requires two Mac computers that are connected by cable using any of these ports:

Target disk mode doesn't support connections that use an Apple USB-C Charge Cable, USB-A to USB-A cable, or Mini DisplayPort  cable.

Connect your computers with the correct cable

Depending on which ports your Mac computers have, use a Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, Thunderbolt 2, or FireWire cable to connect them to each other. Then start up in target disk mode

If you're connecting with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C):

If you're connecting with USB-C:

Start up in target disk mode

After connecting your computers with the correct cable, follow these steps:

  1. If the Mac that you want to use as a disk is turned on, choose Apple () menu > System Preferences, then click Startup Disk. Click Target Disk Mode, then click Restart when you're asked to confirm.
  2. If the Mac that you want to use as a disk is turned off or doesn't have a working display, turn it on and then immediately press and hold the T key while it starts up.
  3. The Mac starts up in target disk mode, then appears as a disk on the desktop of your other Mac. You can now use it as you would any other hard disk.

To exit target disk mode, press and hold the power button on the Mac you're using as a disk. Then disconnect the cable.

Learn more

As an alternative to target disk mode, you can use AirDrop to send content between two Mac computers wirelessly.

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