Target Disk Mode Problems on Your Mac? Here’s the Solution

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Target Disk Mode is an obscure feature that many Mac users are unaware of. Essentially, this feature allows you to turn one of your Mac computers into an external drive while the other controls it. Files and folders are transferred between two Macs quickly, thanks to this feature. Before using this feature, the FileVault feature must be disabled on both devices. 

For the uninitiated, here’s how to start a Mac in Target Disk Mode. Use a cable to connect two Macs and restart the target Mac. Press the T key immediately. Alternatively, launch System Preferences > Startup Disk > Target Disk Mode > Restart.¬†

Please note the steps mentioned are for Intel-based Macs. If you are using Apple Silicon Mac, kindly go through the Apple Support page to find the appropriate steps. 

Generally, the Target Disk Mode feature functions smoothly and without a fuss. But when it encounters a problem, it can be a challenge to fix it. So, here’s a guide to help you.¬†

Reasons Why Target Disk Mode isn’t Working¬†

It cannot be said with certainty why Target Disk Mode is not working on your Mac. But it will be one of the following reasons:

  • You are using the incorrect port or cable for your MacBook computer.¬†
  • The hard drive is in the wrong format.¬†
  • You have mistakenly set Finder to hide external drives.¬†
  • Target Disk Mode isn’t functioning properly because there’s a hardware fault.¬†
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No matter the reason Target Disk Mode is not working, you can fix it by following the simple troubleshooting tips mentioned below. 

Troubleshooting Tips for Target Disk Mode Problems 

  • Ensure the ports and cables are working¬†

If the feature seems to be working, but you cannot connect it to another device, it might mean the problem is with the port or cable you are using. 

Check whether the ports and cables are working by using different cables and ports. You can also use a different cable to ensure the cable isn’t faulty. You must ensure the cable is compatible.¬†

  • Upgrade macOS

Your device may occasionally be formatted as APFS when you are booting it in Target Disk Mode. If this is the case, the device you are connected to must run High Sierra or a higher macOS version. The APFS format is not recognized by older software. Hence, it will not recognize your Mac. 

You can fix this by updating your Mac to the latest macOS version. Before upgrading, you must check whether there’s enough storage space.¬†

You can keep your Mac up-to-date by going to System Preferences and clicking Software Update. 

  • Edit Finder preferences¬†

Is Target Disk Mode working, but you cannot see it because of a Finder issue? Try adjusting the Finder preferences to resolve the issue. If this doesn’t work, find Target Disk via Disk Utility.¬†

After you have put your Mac computer into Target Disk Mode, connect it to another device and then launch Finder > click Preferences > open the Sidebar tab. Tick the box next to Show Hard Disks and External Disks, and this will make the Target Disk appear under the Location heading. 

  • Turn off FileVault¬†
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If your Mac is using FileVault encryption, you will have to type the admin password to access the data. So, after you have put your Mac computer in Target Disk Mode, you will see an on-screen prompt asking for this password. But if you do not see this prompt and yet you cannot access the data, it may help to disable FileVault encryption on that device and then try again. 

Press the power button on the Target Disk Mac to restart the device normally, and then head to System Preferences > click Security & Privacy > head to the FileVault tab > click the padlock icon and type the admin password. This will unlock the changes, and you can click the option to Turn Off FileVault. 

As soon as FileVault is disabled, your device’s hard drive will be unencrypted. However, this process may take a few hours to complete.¬†

Please note that turning off FileVault means you are decreasing your Mac’s defenses. When this feature is turned on, your device is automatically much more secure. Hence, after you have finished using your Mac in Target Disk Mode, you must immediately turn on FileVault to protect your data.¬†

Conclusion 

The Target Disk Mode is an excellent Mac feature that lets users transfer files, documents, and folders from one Mac to another. It is a fantastic way to transfer huge amounts of data when both your Macs are on the same desk and can be connected using a cable. 

But this feature can quickly turn into a headache if it stops functioning appropriately. Fortunately, this guide covers the best solution to help you quickly resolve the Target Disk Mode problem and move on. 

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