MacMost Now 298: Using Firewire Target Disk Mode

You can connect two Macs together by re-booting one into Firewire target disk mode. This allows the first Mac to access the second as a Firewire drive. You can then transfer files between the two computers faster than using a network.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 298: Using Firewire Target Disk Mode.

Hi this is Gary at MacMost Now and today's episode let's learn about firewire target disk mode.
So if you have ever needed to transfer large files or lots of files from one mac to another than you should knOw about firewire target disk mode. it basically enables you to turn one of your macs into a hard drive and plug that hard drive into another mac and then transfer files using firewire. Now the speeds are much much greater than if you did it over a network and it will make it very easy for your transfer your files if you migration assistant, you have used firewire disk mode basically to transfer all your files from one mac to another when you buy a new mac. But you can also use it for other things.
Lets take a look at how it works.
So the first thing you need of course is second mac. You got a second mac, say its a laptop and you want to transfer files to it or from it and you have got a first mac in this case may be an imac. Next thing you are going to need is a firewire cable. You need a firewire cable that will match a firewire tape that two peers use, so in this case both of these use Firewire 400 which means this little rectangular connector here will fashion kind, now if you got a new mac, you can actually use a firewire 800 and you can also get a cable that actually goes from 800 to 400, so can basically use firewire target mode regardless of which type of firewire your mac uses as long as you have the right firewire cable.
First you need to do is you need to restart one of the computers in firewire target disk mode basically make it into a hard drive. One of the way to do it is to go system preferences, in there, there's a start up disk pane and at the bottom right there is a target disk mode, you click on that, it will prompt you ank if you want to restart this computer in target disk mode and want me to do it. One way to do it is a plain restart and hold out the T key and it will boot into firewire mode of course it will do that very quickly, so you know where to because it only takes a few seconds to go into this mode because it is not really booting the OS at all, it is just going in special mode to find a hook up to the hard drive using the firewire cable.
Now once you do that you end up with a screen that looks like this as a big firewire symbol on it. And in this case using a mac book and I don't have it plugged in and it also gives me a nice battery indicator just a nice touch. The fire wire icon will bounce around on the screen and you are ready to connect it to your mac. All you have to do is to plug your firewire cable into the firewire port on this machine, and then go ahead and plug this into the firewire port on your other mac and the drive will show up as an external hard drive on the second mac.
Now I can transfer files between the two macs very easily using the mac that is booted into to access that hard drive on the other mac. Firewire speeds are far greater than what you would normally get over a network in a very little network in a as well there might be other things loading down so you can really get things going and transfer huge files this way. to get out of firewire disk mode you of course drag and drop the hard drive from the desktop to trash so you get of the disk than you can disconnect it from the original mac and then go ahead and hit the power button which will then shut it down and then you can reboot and then it will reboot normally as it had before.
The real thing is this is even more useful in snow Leopard not for anything special, but because snow Leopard boots so quickly is not that we have to deal with basically shut down the mac into hard disk mode and then go ahead and reboot into snow Leopard when you are done. It definitely takes less time to go and do that and then transfer few big bites files then might take to Transfer the files over the network. So hope you found this useful and until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig from MacMost Now.

Comments: 9 Responses to “MacMost Now 298: Using Firewire Target Disk Mode”

    10 years ago

    81BrrH I want to say – thank you for this!

    10 years ago

    all good things

    9 years ago

    Are you able to transfer programs, such as Final Cut Pro, Adobe programs, Office 2004/08, etc. using TDM without reentering the keys?

      9 years ago

      Sometimes. But don’t count on it. Have those keys handy just in case.

    RM Secor
    9 years ago

    Hey I actually knew how to place a MAC into Target Disk Mode and have used the method several times, but I enjoyed the video and others will as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    8 years ago

    The video was way over my head,you will have to excuse my ignorance. What is a Firewire Port used for. Just a simple answer
    Thanks Gary

      8 years ago

      The Firewire port is use to connect peripherals, just like a USB port. There are hard drives and video cameras that use Firewire. There are some other things as well, such as scanners. If you buy a Firewire hard drive instead of a USB hard drive, you would use the Firewire port.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    8 years ago

    Is the Firewire Port faster than the USB Ports. I must apologise that i asked the question before. You have just sent me an email about this topic,and that i already asked the question. I am sorry for wasting your time. Gary

      8 years ago

      In general, yes. Firewire 800 ports (all recent Macs) are faster than USB 2 ports. But that’s a simple answer for a complex question. Firewire works better with constant data (like video). USB 3 (not available on Macs) is faster than Firewire 800, but it may not be as good for video.
      It is really not important for most Mac users at this point. Firewire worked great for video, but no one makes cameras with Firewire anymore. So for most Mac users USB 2 is the main option for things like external hard drives.

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