so I have an old macbook (late 2008 aluminum, running snow leopard). The display stopped working last week and since they told me they can't fix it, I've taken the opportunity to get a brand new macbook pro with retina display. It's running the most recent (so far as I know) Mavericks (10.9.4).

My problem is I'd like to get files off the old computer. I did back it up about a month ago, so I can get some stuff off of my external drive, but I'd feel better if I could just get in to the old computer and make sure I got all my photos and stuff.

The problem is that the two computers don't have anyway of connecting to each other. I thought I could get a firewire to thunderbolt and cable and just use the old one like drive (I did this before at some point with some other computers) and I went and got the cables without double checking an apparently my 2008 macbook doesn't have a firewire port, which is really confusing because now I don't know where I was doing that before.

I know I can connect the two with an ethernet cable (if I spend another 30 bucks for another thunderbolt adapter. ugh.) but I'm not sure if that will work because I definitely don't have sharing on on the old computer. I'm pretty sure I could use the old computer with an external screen, after buying -another- adapter, but I don't have access to an external screen either.

I absolutely do NOT want to have the apple store migrate the whole computer over to the new one. There is so much on it I don't need (I was engaged in a long sporadic process of cleaning it up when the screen broke).

do I have any other options? Is there some way I can turn on filesharing without being able to see the screen? Is there really no way to do it with USB? That's the only input the two machines have in common.

Otherwise I guess I'll just have to find someone with an external monitor.

Thanks for any advice!


  • Can you please try and post the exact model of your computer? On my macbook, the model is printed to the right of the FCC logo on the bottom of the machine. Sep 14, 2014 at 9:21

1 Answer 1


The other option is remove the hard disk and use a cheap USB adapter to read the old disk. I am not sure about a 2008 model, but more recent (2010) models use a SATA drive.

I have done this to recover data from many dead Macs.

  • I have, loosely, the same problem as the OP, albeit without a broken screen. I have a late 2008 MacBook Pro and want to selectively transfer data from it to the latest model by mounting the drives (such as using target disk mode, but I think the generational leap is too far). Plan B is to do it from the Carbon Copy Cloner images which I use instead of Time Machine, but that would be a slower network operation. It hadn't occurred to me to stick the drives into a caddy and do it that way. It's a great suggestion. I have one HD in the optical drive bay; a little trickier but still doable. Dec 21, 2016 at 10:12

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