Connecting Two Macs Together.

Do It YourselfThis question on connecting one Mac to another came in via email from Linda…

I have a four year old Mac (OSX/10.3.9) desktop that needs the OS updated. My nephew received the updates with his newer Mac laptop. When he inserted the discs, he discovered my machine has just a CD drive while the update discs are in DVD format. Is there any way his Mac can be plugged into mine to make the upgrade? If not, are there other alternatives short of getting a new computer?

Your question hits on the solution… what you’re going to want to do is connect the two Macs together with a FireWire cable and put your older Mac in ‘target disk mode’… which will cause your Macs hard drive to appear as an external FireWire drive on your nephews computer.

From there he should be able to load the update discs on his laptop and then update OSX on your Mac via FireWire and target disk mode.

Important to do first: Unplug all other FireWire devices from both computers prior to using FireWire target disk mode. Do not plug in any FireWire devices until after you have disconnected the two computers from each other, or have stopped using target disk mode.

To Use FireWire Target Disk Mode

  1. Make sure that the target computer (your computer) is turned off. If you are using a PowerBook or iBook as the target computer, you should also plug in its AC power adapter.
  2. Use a FireWire cable (6-pin to 6-pin) to connect the target computer to a host computer. The host computer does not need to be turned off.
  3. Start up the target computer and immediately press and hold down the T key until the FireWire icon appears. The hard disk of the target computer should become available to the host computer and will likely appear on desktop. (If the target computer is running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, you can also open System Preferences, choose Startup Disk, and click Target Disk Mode. Then restart the computer and it will start up in Target Disk Mode.)
  4. When you are finished copying files, drag the target computer’s hard disk icon to the Trash or select Put Away from the File menu (Mac OS 9) or Eject from the File menu (Mac OS X).
  5. Press the target computer’s power button to turn it off.
  6. Unplug the FireWire cable.

To read more about target disk mode, eligible computers, the ATA requirement, issues when connecting Intel-based Macs to Power PC’s and what to try if this isn’t working for you… Head over to this document within Apple Support.

Another thing to consider here, especially if you’d benefit from giving your older computer DVD ability, would be to pick yourself up an external USB-2 or FireWire DVD drive… they’re relatively inexpensive these days and this would of course give you a drive to do the update from.

And finally, if all else fails… or if you’re lazy… or if you just don’t want to deal with all this… just bring your Mac into your local Apple Store and they’ll update it for you (call ahead for an appointment).

Hope that helps… And wow, you didn’t have to buy a new computer.


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