Most Mac users rely on iPhones and iPads to take photos and store them in the Photos app, which happens automatically for those who use Apple’s iCloud Photos syncing service. But what if you want to import photos from a device other than an iPhone or iPad—say a Samsung smartphone running Android—and what if you don’t want those images in Photos? Turn to Apple’s Image Capture app, which has shipped with macOS for ages and is stored in your Applications folder’s Utilities folder. To use it, connect your device to your Mac via USB, launch Image Capture, and click the device in the sidebar. Choose a destination from the Import To pop-up menu, and then either select some photos and click Import or click the Import All button to get everything.
In previous versions of iOS, a scroll bar would appear on the right edge of the screen while you were swiping through a long Web page, email message, or document. But the scroller was merely an indicator of where in the page you were and how much content there was (the bigger the scroller, the less content). In iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, however, Apple has made the scroll bar more helpful, and you’ll want to use it to scroll long pages more quickly than you can with swiping. To use the scroll bar, swipe slightly to make it appear, press and hold the scroller, and drag it to scroll. The only hard part is that it can be tricky to grab since it disappears a few seconds after you stop scrolling, and it’s a thin target to hit with a thick finger. But give it a try since it makes scrolling in long pages so much easier.
With the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple changed the way the Camera app’s shutter button works in ways that could cause confusion. Tapping it once still takes a single still photo, but if you press and hold on the shutter button, it now captures a quick video. (Previously, pressing and holding on the button took photos in burst mode; to do that on the iPhone 11 models, slide the shutter button to the left.) Once you’ve started taking a quick video, slide your finger to the right to lock recording, so you don’t have to keep holding the button down. Tap the white shutter button to take a still image while recording; tap the red record button to stop recording. For even easier quick video recording, press and hold either of the volume buttons; a single press still takes a photo. Note that quick videos always record with mono sound and at a resolution of 1920-by-1440; for stereo sound and the resolution set in Settings > Camera, use the Camera app’s Video mode.
We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the number of ways we can move data between Macs. You can send files via AirDrop, attach them to an email message, put them in a Messages conversation, turn on and connect via File Sharing, or use Dropbox or Google Drive as an intermediary, to name just a few of the more obvious approaches.
But what if you have a lot of data—say tens or even hundreds of gigabytes—to transfer from one Mac to another? The techniques listed above might work, but we wouldn’t bet on it. If you had an external hard drive with sufficient free space handy, you could copy all the data to it from one Mac and then copy the data back off to another Mac. To cut the copy time in half, though, try Target Disk Mode instead.
What Is Target Disk Mode?
Target Disk Mode is a special boot mode that enables nearly any Mac to behave like an external hard drive for another Mac. You can connect the Macs using Thunderbolt 3, USB-C (on the MacBook), Thunderbolt 2, or FireWire. It’s best to use the same port on both Macs if possible, but it’s usually fine to use adapters, such as Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter for connecting newer and older Thunderbolt-capable Macs.
Target Disk Mode is nearly universal, easy to set up, and one of the fastest methods of moving files between Macs. Let’s unpack that statement:
- Nearly universal: Every Mac sold in the last decade supports Target Disk Mode, so you can be sure it will work with any modern Mac.
- Easy setup: Because Apple has baked Target Disk Mode into the Mac firmware, the version of macOS is irrelevant. There’s no software to configure nor any permissions to worry about. Putting a Mac into Target Disk Mode merely requires holding down the T key during boot or clicking a button in the Startup Disk preference pane.
- Speed: Because Target Disk Mode on modern Macs relies on a Thunderbolt connection, and you’re connecting one Mac directly to another, you’ll get the fastest transfer speeds in the fewest steps.
You can also use Target Disk Mode on an old Mac to set up a new Mac with Migration Assistant, repair its drive using Disk Utility, or possibly even boot another Mac with it. Booting one Mac from another in Target Disk Mode works best if the two Macs are of the same model and vintage and are running the same version of macOS, but it might work even if those facts aren’t true.
To use Target Disk Mode to copy data between Macs, follow these steps:
- On the source Mac, either:
- Restart the Mac, and once it starts booting, hold down the T key until you see the Target Disk Mode screen with a bouncing Thunderbolt logo.
- Open System Preferences > Startup Disk, click the lock button and enter your administrator credentials, click Target Disk Mode, and then click Restart.
- Connect the source Mac to the destination Mac with an appropriate cable. The source Mac’s drive appears on the destination Mac’s Desktop like an external hard drive. (If the source Mac is running macOS 10.15 Catalina, two drives will appear on the destination Mac’s Desktop: DriveName and DriveName – Data. The first is Catalina’s system volume; you’ll find all your files and folders on the Data volume.)
- Move or copy files as desired.
- When you’re done, press and hold the power button on the source Mac for a few seconds to shut it down.
If you have hundreds of gigabytes to transfer and either of your Macs is a notebook, it’s best to connect it to power to avoid draining the battery before the copy finishes.
Two things can complicate putting a Mac into Target Disk Mode: FileVault and a firmware password. Both are easily worked around:
- If the Mac is encrypted with FileVault, hold down the T key at startup like normal, but then enter the administrator password for that Mac to complete the switch to Target Disk Mode.
- If the Mac has a firmware password, press the Option key while the Mac is starting up and enter the firmware password when prompted. Then press the T key to continue booting in Target Disk Mode.
Also, the Apple USB-C Charge Cable that comes with the power adapter for the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models doesn’t support Target Disk Mode, so if that’s the cable you were planning to use, sorry, but you’ll need to buy a real Thunderbolt or USB-C cable.
Despite these small caveats, Target Disk Mode is one of the unsung innovations that has made Macs easier to use for decades, and it’s well worth keeping in mind whenever you need to move lots of data between machines.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
An unexpected and useful feature of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 is also nearly invisible, and for most uses, requires a special adapter. With this feature, the Files app now can “see” external storage devices.
That’s huge—now you can move data to and from an iPhone or iPad using standard flash drives, SD card readers, or even powered USB hard drives. It’s also a great way to play videos and other data that won’t fit in the available free space on your device. (You’ll still need an app on the iOS device that knows how to open the files—for videos, try VLC for Mobile.)
iOS should be able to read any unencrypted file system supported by the Mac’s Disk Utility, including the PC-focused MS-DOS (FAT) and exFAT, and the Apple-focused MacOS Extended (HFS+) and APFS. If you’re formatting a drive for sharing with a PC, we recommend exFAT; for use within the Apple ecosystem, use Mac OS Extended.
If you plan to use a flash drive with an iPhone or iPad regularly, it’s worth buying a new MFi Lightning flash drive that you can plug in directly. Apple’s MFi program should ensure that drives with that label meet the necessary power and file system requirements. Or, if you have a 2018 iPad Pro model with USB-C, get a USB-C flash drive.
But what about all those USB flash drives and hard drives you already have? To connect those to a Lightning-based iPhone or iPad, you’ll need Apple’s $39 Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter. For the USB-C iPad Pro models, any USB-C hub with a USB-A port should work.
There is one big gotcha, which is that many USB flash drives require 500 milliamps (mA) of power, which is more than the iPhone or iPad can provide. When that’s the case, iOS will usually alert you to the problem (or the drive simply won’t show up in Files). You’ll need to provide extra power by plugging a standard Lightning-to-USB cable into the adapter and a power source. That passthrough power should usually be enough to charge the device and run the flash drive, although we’ve seen flash drives that work with the iPhone 11 Pro but not with a 10.5-inch iPad Pro. (Avoid Apple’s older $29 Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, which supports only the slower USB 2 and doesn’t provide passthrough power.)
Happily, flash drives that require only 100 mA of power work fine without additional power. To learn how much power a drive requires, connect it to your Mac, open the System Information app (in the Applications folder’s Utilities folder), click USB in the sidebar, select the drive in the USB Device Tree at the top, and then read the Current Required line.
Accessing Your Drive
Once you’ve connected a drive to your device, you can access it in Files. On the iPhone, or if you’re using your iPad in portrait orientation, tap the Browse tab at the bottom of the screen. On an iPad in landscape orientation, Browse appears automatically in the sidebar.
Either way, you can find your drive in the list of locations—remember that flash drives are often called Untitled or have funky names.
Copying Files to and from Your Drive
The Files app works a bit like the Mac’s Finder in that it lets you copy files by dragging or by using Copy and Paste. This latter approach is often easier:
- In Files, navigate to the file you want to copy.
- Tap and hold it until a popover appears with commands.
- Tap Copy in the popover.
- Tap the Browse tab to return to the Browse screen, and then tap your flash drive.
- Tap a blank spot in the flash drive’s directory, and then tap Paste in the popover.
Moving a file works similarly, except that once you tap Move in the popover, iOS displays a list of destinations.
Dragging to copy a file is easier on the iPad if you open two Files windows showing different locations in Split View. With Files as the frontmost app, swipe up to reveal the Dock, and then tap and hold the Files icon briefly so you can drag it to the left or right edge of the screen. Then, to copy files, simply drag them from one view to the other.
Even without Split View, you can also drag to copy files on the iPhone. Tap and hold the file you want to copy, but instead of letting up or working with the popover, start dragging. Then, with another finger (your thumb may work well), tap the Browse tab to switch back to the Browse screen, and then keep dragging the file onto your flash drive. If you’re dextrous, you can even tap the flash drive with another finger to open it—do this to nest the dragged file into a sub-folder on the flash drive.
Obviously, you can also use the commands in the tap-and-hold popover to perform numerous other actions on files. These commands include Duplicate, Delete, Info, Quick Look, Tags, Rename, Share, Compress, and Create PDF.
One last thing. On the Mac, you need to eject external storage devices manually by dragging their icons to the Trash, Control-clicking them and choosing Eject, or pressing Command-E. Once you’ve done that, you can unplug the drive. Happily, that’s not necessary for drives mounted in iOS—just use common sense and don’t remove a flash drive while files are being read or written.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
A small but welcome new feature of iOS 13 is Driving ETA, which helps you share your estimated time of arrival with a contact whenever you’re navigating with the Maps app. To use Driving ETA, start navigating to a destination in Maps, tap Share ETA at the bottom of the screen, and pick the person with whom you want to share your location and arrival time. (You’ll share in Maps with iOS 13 users and via Messages with everyone else.) The other person will receive a notification of your ETA and if you’re delayed, updated times. You do have to start navigation in Maps to use Driving ETA, so it’s a little inconvenient when you already know the route, but it’s a brilliant feature for long-distance trips.