Is it possible to put the iMac G3 in Target Disk mode, such that one could copy or image the HDD?

This particular G3 does not have a FireWire port, only two USB 1.1 ports. It's the tray loading model from 1999 (iMac,1), and is running OS 8.6.

  • a museum piece :)
    – Ruskes
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


Only FireWire and Thunderbolt support Target Disk Mode.

You have to remove the internal disk and put it in an external case with UltraATA interface.

Alternatively you may create a bootable thumb drive (MacOS 9.1 or better), boot from it and create an image of your HDD with Disk Copy and save it to a network share. Building a bootable thumb drive and booting from it may take a while though because of the low bandwidth of USB1.1 (12 MBit/sec ≈ max. 1MByte/s).

According to this article Mac OS X 10.3.9 - the latest Mac OS X which supports the G3 - unfortunately doesn't provide USB-booting:

Further refinement I just came across in my notes, on the system requirements to boot from Macintosh USB ports: OS 8.6 through 9.2.2, and OS 10.4.3 and later. OS 8.6 - 9.2.2 might need the last of whichever versions of the USB extensions that each of these System versions supports (for OS 9.1 through 9.2.2, USB 1.5.6 is the preferred version; OS 9.1 and later don't need the extension "USB Mass Storage Support", especially since it sometimes freezes Macs running OS 9.1 - 9.2.2 that are trying to boot from USB), though other details as to the proper combination and versions of USB extensions under OS 8.6 - 9.2.2 is screwy, and too lengthy to post here, especially since we're dealing with OS X anyway.

The first Macs to support USB booting, are the first slot-loading iMacs (including the 350 MHz model with no Firewire ports), and the Firewire Powerbook G3. I've even booted OS 10.4.11, from a USB 2.0 flash drive, on a Mirrored Drive Doors G4, from a USB 2.0 PCI slot card, with no special tricks, Open Firmware modifications, etc.

  • nice one :) with details, deserves a + from me
    – Ruskes
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 21:56
  • 1
    Many thanks. I just realized I misidentified this model - this is a tray loading G3; as such it doesn't look like a USB boot is possible.
    – wxs
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 23:23
  • @walker do you have an old 10.3/10.4/10.5/10.6 server? netboot the iMac will do the job also. but that's really time-consuming. i may add an explanation.
    – klanomath
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 23:39
  • Sorry, no access to an old OS X server here.
    – wxs
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 20:01

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