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How to Recover Data from Mac Drive in Target Disk Mode

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jan 27, 2024 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

Target Disk Mode is a Mac operating system native tool, which allows you to easily access all the information stored on your Mac from another Mac. The process is simple and you will only need a Thunderbolt cable and another Mac to manage data. This tool is used to recover information from a damaged Mac or to facilitate data transfer processes. Here you will learn everything you need to know to properly carry out this process to recover your information quickly and if your information is damaged or has been deleted, I will explain how to recover it easily.

In this article

Part 1: Recover Mac Storage Drive Data via Target Disk Mode

Q: How to recover data from Mac drive in target disk mode?

Target Disk is a function offered by the Mac operating system, this function allows the user to connect two Mac computers through a Thunderbolt or FireWire cable and manage the information of a Mac through the other. This function is very practical and versatile, in many cases, it is used to create backups of information or simply to manage practically and simply all the contents of a Mac disk.

Part 2: When to Use Target Disk Mode on Mac?

The Target Disk Mode tool has many practical applications that can be very useful to recover information from a damaged Mac or to easily manage the information stored on it, I will describe some of them below.

Part 3: What Are Prerequisites for Target Disk Mode?

You must keep in mind that to make use of Target Disk Mode you will need to have some tools and meet certain requirements.

Step 1. Go to System Preferences, click on "Security and privacy" and then click on "FileVault".

Step 2. Click on the "Lock" icon to unlock it, and enter the name of the administrator and the password.

Step 3. Click on "Turn Off FileVault" and then click on "Turn Off Encryption".

Part 4: How to Use Target Disk Mode on Mac?

There are two methods to access this tool, the first is through "Startup Disk", this option is in "System Preferences" (this option is viable if your Mac allows you to properly boot the operating system) and the second option is "Boot Using Target Disk Mode" (this is the right option if your Mac does not allow you to boot the operating system and you are looking to recover or backup your information).

The process is really simple and consists of a few steps, then I will show you how to use this function to recover your data using this tool.

Step 1: Connect both computers

target disk mode image 1

Use a Thunderbolt cable to connect both computers, make sure you have the right cable since the power cable will not be enough.

Step 2: Go to "Startup Disk"

target disk mode image 2

Go to "System Preferences" and click on "Startup Disk".

Step 3: Edit preferences.

target disk mode image 3

In this window, by clicking on "Authenticate" you can set a password or Touch ID to protect your data during the process. Once this is done, click on "Target Disk Mode" and then click on "Restart". Once you finish, your Mac will restart and start the Target Disk Mode tool automatically.

Step 4: Manage your data.

target disk mode image 4

Your Mac will show a black screen with the Thunderbolt logo and you will not be able to use it while using this function. Now you can see and use the information of your computer through a second Mac (as long as they are connected through a Thunderbolt cable compatible that allows data transfer). You can see that your Mac has now become a storage device and is listed next to the rest of your "Devices".

Step 5: Boot using Target Disk Mode

target disk mode image 5

For users who experience problems with their Mac and cannot start the operating system correctly but wish to extract their data safely, they can use Target Disk Mode by holding down the T key during boot until the Thunderbolt or FireWire icon appears on the screen. Once the Thunderbolt icon has appeared you can access all your information (as long as it is connected to another Mac through a compatible Thunderbolt data transfer cable).

Step 6: Properly disconnect the Target Mac

To eject the device, drag its icon to the "Trash". By dragging the icon to the "Trash", it becomes an icon for ejecting discs. On the Mac you used as a disk, press the power button to turn it off and now you can disconnect the cable without any risk.

Read More:
How to Easily Burn ISO to USB on Mac
How to Create a Bootable USB on macOS

Part 5: How to Recover Data from Target Mac with Data Recovery Software?

If for some reason the Target Disk Mode was not enough to recover your information or if your information is damaged, do not worry, this has a solution. With the help of professional information recovery software, Recoverit Data Recovery for Mac is an extremely reliable tool that you can use to collect all the deleted, damaged, or simply disorganized information. You can even load the tool into a Flash drive to use it from the boot in case your Mac can't start the operating system.

Right here I will show you how to use it. With a couple of clicks and you will have recovered your information.

Step 1: Select the Drive

mac data recovery

To recover lost or deleted files from a drive, you should choose it as the target location for data scanning and searching.

Step 2: Scan the removable media

mac scanning lost files

An all-around scan starts once you make the choice. It usually takes a few minutes.

During the process, you can filter and locate files of your choice.

Step 3: Preview and recover files

mac audio files recovery

After it, Recoverit provides the preview function for you before recovery. A variety of files can be previewed, such as pictures, videos, movies, audio, music, documents, and so forth. Then, select one or more files you want to restore and click "Recover" to get all of them back.


The Target Disk Mode tool is amazing. With just a couple of clicks, it allows you to access all your information safely, but it is important to remind that to make use of this tool you will need to have another Mac and a compatible Thunderbolt cable to transfer data. If you do not have another Mac, you can use Recoverit, this tool offers many advantages and you will not need an extra Mac to recover your information, additionally, this tool offers a remarkable advantage in recovering damaged information. In a few minutes, you can recover and repair all your information.

Recoverit author

Sue Wayne

staff Editor

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