Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My MacBook Pro (2008) will not boot, so I want to copy some files before reinstalling Lion.

How do I do this from the Recovery disc?

share|improve this question
Do you have access to another Mac? (or a PC, but that would be trickier). – Nathan Jul 14 '12 at 18:47
Thanks for the answers. I'll try each then accept the answer which works. – Paul Jul 14 '12 at 20:20
I have an iMac as well. – Paul Jul 14 '12 at 20:20

You might try using Target Disk Mode - hold down T at startup and then connect the MacBook Pro to another Mac (or a PC that can read Mac drives) via FireWire or Thunderbolt.

Or try holding down the Shift key to boot into Safe Boot mode.

If neither of those work, try booting from your MacBook Pro's system restore DVD, use Disk Utility and try repairing the disk, or try a 3rd party utility such as the venerable DiskWarrior.

share|improve this answer
I don't have a FireWire or Thunderbolt cable, otherwise that'd be the perfect answer. Safe boot mode didn't work unfortunately. I'm going to try Linux Mint first, and if that doesn't work, I'll try DiskWarrior. Thanks. – Paul Jul 14 '12 at 20:38
I've had no luck with bootable Linux so have ordered a Firewire cable from Amazon. – Paul Jul 15 '12 at 10:39

Boot up in Recovery Mode (Command + R) add attach an external drive via USB. Then open the Terminal to copy files using the command line. All disks are available under /Volumes.

share|improve this answer
You just saved my bacon. – Doug Null 2 hours ago

All the methods above are good and I'd start with the Target Disk Mode attempt. Also, I definitely second DiskWarrior. However, if all else fails, I'd recommend pulling the hard drive and running Sleuth Kit. It's rather complicated and mainly CLI, so research it first.

share|improve this answer
If all else fails, I think I'll end up pulling the disk. Thanks – Paul Jul 14 '12 at 20:39

I recommend using a Linux Live disk, specifically...

Linux Mint

... as is comes with nautilus gksu preinstalled. (This allows you to easily open folders as admin.)

You simply boot from the Linux Live disk, and use it to access your files on the Macintosh HD as administrator which allows you to copy them to an attached external hard drive.

Here's a short video tutorial on youtube. Note, that this tutorial uses an older version of Linux Mint.

share|improve this answer
Trying that now... Thanks – Paul Jul 14 '12 at 20:39
I couldn't get the MBP to recognise the disc. I only had some DVDs kicking around so will try a CDR in the hope that works. I also tried a bootable Ubuntu USB but that wasn't recognised either. – Paul Jul 15 '12 at 9:44
@Paul Bootable Linux USB on Macs are almost always a trouble to get to work. So, try CDs/DVDs first. When you see two boot options (Windows and Efi), I recommend to choose Windows, as Linux EFI boot still has many driver problems. – gentmatt Jul 15 '12 at 9:47
That's the thing - I'm not even seeing the Linux option to be able to boot into it. I only see the Mac HD, and the Recovery HD. Any ideas? – Paul Jul 15 '12 at 10:06
@Paul Try a PRAM reset. If you still don't see the Linux disk then, somethings really wrong. You should add that to your question. – gentmatt Jul 15 '12 at 10:08

protected by Community Mar 1 '14 at 11:34

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.