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How Do I Access USB Drives On Another Mac?

I have an iMac with connected USB drive(s). I’d like to access these connected drives from my MacBook Air over my home network. Using the MacBook I can connect to folders on the iMac internal drive but can’t seem to connect to the usb drives. “go to server” shows the external drive folders and it even asks me which folders I want to mount, but then it fails.

I want to access files over the network so I don’t have to unplug the usb drives from the iMac and plug them into the MacBook to work with them. I have a Synology NAS, iCloud, (and Dropbox & OneDrive because of work) so there’s plenty of workarounds available but I already have the usb drives so I may as well use them as a tertiary backup, etc until they die.

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Mark

Comments: 8 Responses to “How Do I Access USB Drives On Another Mac?”

    2 weeks ago

    On the iMac, you’ll need to go to System Preferences, Sharing, File Sharing. Then you’ll need to add that drive, or a folder on that drive, to the list.

    Once you do that, you should be able to see that drive or folder appear when you “browse” for shared locations.

    Mark
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks Gary. I’ve tried all that. I found a really old YouTube video that suggests the drives have to be formatted in a certain way for this to work. I was hoping for an easier solution before going through all that. I’m also wondering if something isn’t quite right with the OS. That iMac is close to end of life and has gone through a number of OS upgrades over the years without a clean install.

    2 weeks ago

    Mark: Format shouldn’t matter. You aren’t directly accessing the drives if they are over the network. The files would be “served” by the iMac. It should be fine with an older macOS as SMB is pretty standard and has been around for a long while.

    Mark
    2 weeks ago

    New info. I reset all the file share info in system preferences, and in get info for each drive. Including the drive in sharing in system preferences didn’t set the shared drive flag in get info. I tried connecting again. I can see the drives but I get an error message for each one that says ‘The operation can’t be completed because the original item for “WD 3 3TB” can’t be found’. Am I doing doing something wrong (user error) or is it a bigger issue that I’ll have to pursue.

    2 weeks ago

    Mark: Try reviewing everything carefully. It is hard to troubleshoot this way, back-and-forth via comments. If you can’t figure it out you may need to get an expert to take a firsthand look.

    Mark
    2 weeks ago

    Agreed. Thank you for your time. Last question, I promise. Where would I look for old sharing or Samba settings persisting somewhere (a plist, etc)?

    2 weeks ago

    Mark: Everything should just be in System Preferences. Maybe try turning Sharing off and then on, removing items and adding them back, etc.

    Mark
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for your time, Gary. I’m on a mission now!

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