How to Make MacBook Pro Appear as External Storage on a PC

by Jen Cordwainer

Mac computers come with a built-in feature called Target Disk Mode that make them appear as external storage devices connected to other computers. However, if you are trying to access or transfer files from a Mac to PC, you will run into formatting obstacles because Windows systems will not automatically read these disks. There are a few extra steps that PC users must take to use a Mac as an external storage device.

Hardware Restrictions and Alternatives

Target Disk Mode is only compatible with FireWire or Thunderbolt transfers. Both your Mac and PC will need to have these ports built in. If you do not have these ports, you may want to explore an alternative way to move your data from a Mac to PC, such as loading your Mac files onto another USB external drive and then moving them onto you computer. You can also use an Ethernet cable to create a file sharing connection between your computers.

Get the Right Cable

If your computers have FireWire ports, your Mac will accept either 9-pin connectors (FireWire 800) or 6-pin connectors (FireWire 400) depending on the age of your machines. Generally, FireWire 800 will transfer files faster than its older 400 counterpart. You may need to find a cable with two different types of FireWire ends if your computer ports don't match. If you are using Thunderbolt to transfer files, both computers must have Thunderbolt ports. These cables can be found at most electronics retailers, including the Apple Store, Best Buy and Radio Shack. Before connecting the two computers, make sure your Mac is switched off first.

Reading the Mac Hard Drive

You will need to download and install additional software to view your Mac hard drive and transfer files. The MacDrive Standard trial will let you open, edit and save Mac files as you work on your PC. Visit the Mediafour website (link in Resources) to get this free software.

Boot into Target Disk Mode

Switch your Mac on. Press and hold down on the "T" key right away until the FireWire icon appears. Launch MacDrive and your Mac volume should appear. Double click and make sure that your files are visible. At this point you can transfer the files directly onto the PC or edit the files from the Mac drive. If the Mac disk does not appear, right click on the "My Computer" icon on your PC, choose "Disk Management" and make sure the Mac drive is listed. If it isn't, you may need to reboot your computers and start Target Disk Mode again.

About the Author

Jen Cordwainer has been writing technology, business and entertainment articles for seven years. She has three years of experience working in enterprise technology. Cordwainer has a bachelor's degree in English.

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