Mac Program For Target Display Mode

In this video, I show you how to use a Mac computer in Target Display Mode to get another monitor as an extended display. Get a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt.


Target disk mode is a Mac feature that has been around since the release of the PowerBook 100 in 1991. It allows users to connect two Macs together via Thunderbolt, USB-C, or FireWire ports and share the content of the ‘targeted’ Mac’s internal drive.

Target disk mode can be used to:

Download CleanMyMac X from MacPaw’s website and clean up to 500MB of junk data from your computer while enjoying all the features of the software without major limitations.

  • Copy files from one Mac to another via cable instead of sharing the same local network.
  • Verify the integrity of the targeted Mac’s startup disk and troubleshoot any problems.
  • Use an optical drive on the target disk mode Mac as if it were attached to your computer.
  • Troubleshoot your Mac by booting it from the target disk mode Mac.

To get started, you only need a few basic things:

  • The right cable to make the connection between two Macs. target disk mode doesn’t support connections that use Apple USB-C Charge Cable, USB-A to USB-A cable, or the Mini DisplayPort cable. You need a Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, Thunderbolt 2, or FireWire cable to establish a connection.
  • Access to power. While it is possible to use target disk mode on laptops, to avoid a sudden drop in connection due to a drained battery it is better to connect your MacBook to a power source while using it as a target disk mode Mac.

How to Boot Into Target Disk Mode

There are two ways to boot into target disk mode, either via a keyboard shortcut or via System Preferences. The easiest way is to start the Mac and press the T key down until you see a FireWire or Thunderbolt icon on the display. That, however, is only possible if your keyboard is working. On a wireless keyboard, press the T key only after hearing the chime (if applicable).

If your Mac is already running, you can use the system preferences pane to reboot it into target disk mode. This is especially handy if the keyboard is not functioning correctly, as you can rely only on the mouse.

  • Launch System Preferences.
  • Select the “Startup Disk” pane.
  • Click on the lock icon in the bottom left and type in the admin password when prompted.
  • Click on the “Target Disk Mode” button to restart the system into the desired mode.
  • Press the “Restart” button.

What to Do While in Target Disk Mode

Repair internal drive: Used by long-time Mac users as a method of troubleshooting startup disk issues or to quickly move huge files between Macs (an older, legacy method), target disk mode can be used to repair internal drives that are misbehaving. Connect the two Macs and use Disk Utility to repair the startup disk of the target disk mode Mac.

Move files between Macs via Migration Assistant: This built-in software is great for moving settings and user data over from an old Mac to a new one without the use of iCloud or Time Machine. Migration Assistant will consider the startup drive in target disk mode to be an external drive with a valid system on board.

Boot your computer from the target disk: If you noticed any issues with your Mac, then you can use target disk mode to boot from a secondary computer. However, it must be an identical model with an identical macOS on it, otherwise it won’t work.

  1. With target disk mde on, start up the second Mac and hold down the Option key until the startup manager appears.
  2. Select the drive you want to start the system to start up from – in this case, the target disk.

An Interesting Move From Apple

Target disk mode is especially useful when rescuing data from failing internal drives. Considering that MacBook Pros now come with SSDs soldered onto the logic board, it’s wise to have a plan B in case the internal drive or logic board fails.

Apple has removed the data recovery port from the logic board on both 13-inch and 15-inch models with the Touch Bar, iFixit has found. Image credit: ifixit.com

For MacBooks launched in 2016 and 2017, Apple introduced a data recovery port located on the logic board itself that allowed Geniuses to transfer data from a faulty Mac to a functioning one, but that port was removed from the MacBook Pros launched in 2018 meaning that Apple is cutting the branch out from under itself should a logic board failure occur. The company seems to think everyone will be using iCloud Drive (50GB = $1 per month) so everything will be backed up on the cloud, but unfortunately that’s not everyone’s go-to method.

Use a Mac Optimization App to Catch up With Disk Health

As with every issue that you may encounter, there are third-party utilities that can help you to spot a problem before it happens. In addition to keeping your Mac clean of junk and cache data, optimization apps such as CleanMyMac keep an eye on your disk’s health and warn you well before it fails, giving you the time to enter target disk mode and securely move your data onto another Mac.

Best Mac Optimization Software of 2021


  • User-friendly client
  • Deep, effective cleaning options
  • Versatile, user-oriented customer support
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Full review…

  • Personalized, remote assistance
  • Unique optimization tools
  • Anti-theft tracking
  • Built-in antivirus
  • Full review…

  • Fast scanning
  • User-friendly UI
  • Virus and malware scan
  • Great cleaning features
  • Full review…

Get the Best Deals on Mac Optimization Software

Stay up to date on the latest tech news and discounts on Mac optimization software with our monthly newsletter.

August 28, 2018

Target disk mode is a type of boot mode in Mac that is used to transfer large files such as disk images, important backups etc. in a quick and efficient manner. This mode is also useful when you want to troubleshoot or access your Mac when it doesn’t boot.

How to use Target Disk Mode?

You will need 2 Mac systems and a FireWire cable to use Target Disk Mode. The Mac systems you plan to use for TDM needs to have a FireWire or Thunderbolt port.

One Mac acts as a Target, which as the name suggests is the system you want to access. It could be the non-booting Mac or the Mac with issues. The other Mac is the Host; this is the system that will be used to access the target, Mac.

Once you have both Mac’s set up, follow the steps below to use Target Disk Mode.

  1. Connect the two Mac’s

Connect the two Mac’s using FireWire or Thunderbolt cables. Also, make sure your Mac’s are plugged in to avoid running out of battery during the process.

Target Display Mode In 10.6.8

  1. Start Target Disk Mode on target Mac

This can be done using 2 methods described as follows.

  • Restart your Mac and press the ‘T’ key until you see a FireWire icon on the screen. T
  • If your target Mac is turned ON, go to System Preferences > Startup Disk and select Target Disk Mode.

Once you have Target Mode turned ON, you are all set to transfer files.

  1. Transfer files

Your host Mac should now be able to detect the target, Mac. Now you can use this Mac as you would like any other external storage media. Open Finder to transfer any files you need and once that’s done, click on Eject to safely remove the connected Mac.

Why use Target Disk Mode?

Now that we know the basics of Target Disk Mode, let us understand when you can use this mode.

  • To transfer files

Instead of using a USB flash drive or external hard drive as an intermediary between 2 Mac’s for transferring files, you can directly use a Mac to transfer files to another Mac. This is particularly helpful to transfer large files such as backups, disk images etc.

  • Troubleshoot or access Mac that won’t boot

This is probably the most useful application of the Target Disk Mode. Sometimes you may face problems with booting your Mac (the common problem when you upgrade Mac). In such cases, you can use Target Disk Mode and access it through another Mac.

Mac Program For Target Display Models

Once connected, you can perform troubleshooting on the target Mac or copy important files from the problematic Mac. However, if you’re still having trouble booting your Mac after using TDM, refer Mac wont boot after Sierra update. This link will provide you with some tips on recovering important files after OS upgrade.


While Target Disk Mode can be extremely useful when your Mac doesn’t boot or for file transfers, there are some drawbacks. For instance, you can’t use this mode if the target Mac’s drive is damaged or there are other hardware problems. But this is definitely a good option to consider when your Mac just has booting issues or screen trouble etc.