Mac OS X, Enabling FireWireTarget Disk Mode

One of the premier forms of Mac troubleshooting is to enable FireWire Target Disk mode on the afflicted Mac system and hook it up to another Mac system via FireWire. This results in the hard drive of the Mac system in FireWire Target Disk mode appearing as a mounted drive on the connected Mac system (‘operating Mac system’). Giving the operating Mac system full access to the other’s hard drive and its contents.

This process is not recommended for novice Mac users since all Mac OS X 10.x security and preservation protocols are by-passed when FireWire Target Disk mode is engaged — If you aren’t familiar with what you’re doing you could very well render your Mac system unusable.



In the latest incarnation of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, FireWire Target Disk mode can be engaged within your System Preferences, Startup Disk pane.

Both in earlier versions of Mac OS X and Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, holding down the FireWire Target Disk mode modifier key during your system’s startup process will engage the FireWire Target Disk mode. To do this, hold down the ‘T’ key followed by pressing the power button to start up your machine.



The confirmation that your Mac system has entered into FireWire Target Disk mode is the appearance of the FireWire symbol, floating around on a blue background. To disengage FireWire Target Disk mode, simply hold down the power button and shut down your system after ejecting the system from the operating Mac system that its connected to.

Host requirements:

  • Built-in FireWire port, or a FireWire port on a PC card
  • FireWire 2.3.3 or later
  • Mac OS 8.6 or later

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