I have a broken 15" 2011 Macbook Pro and am waiting for the replacement to arrive. (It'll be another week; I'm on an island and on a budget.) I know the HDD is fine, though.

A friend is willing to lend me her 2010 17" Macbook Pro. My work environment is complex and I don't want to riddle her system with my updates and patches and shell scripts (and I'd like to avoid the 6 hours plus it would take to set up on a new machine). However, she doesn't want me to replace her MBP's hard drive with mine.

Can I take my HDD (it's a Samsung SSD), get an external USB or FireWire enclosure (I suppose it should be FireWire for speed), and boot OS X from it right away on the 17" MBP?

  • I really tried to Google this, but surprisingly didn't manage to find anything... – Pekka 웃 Feb 13 '17 at 16:41
  • 1
    Have a look at this question & answer – Allan Feb 13 '17 at 16:49

To boot from your HDD:

Get the hardware:

  • Get a SATA to USB adapter.

    1. Remove the HDD from your 2011 MacBook.
    2. Connect it the 2010 MacBook using the SATA adapter.
    3. Power up the 2011 MacBook and hold the Option key until you see the boot menu appears.
    4. Select your HDD (you will see its name) and boot from it.

To only access your data:

You can use Target Disk Mode (TDM):

  1. Connect both MacBooks using the Firewire 800 ports.
  2. Make sure the 2010 MacBook is running.
  3. Power on your 2011 MacBook and press CMD+T to start it in TDM.
  4. Your 2011 MacBook's HDD will appear in the 2010 MacBook's Finder

You should absolutely try to boot your 2011 MacBook's HDD using the TDM method.

  • 1
    Indeed! This is crazy - I'm writing this from my perfectly preserved OS on a different computer. Really speaks to OS X' engineering that the system can boot on a completely different machine without flinching. Windows would bury you in "driver needed" dialogs. Only downside is that the new machine is running USB 2.0 ports and everything's sloooooow. Going to be looking for a FireWire 800 or Thunderbolt enclosure tomorrow. – Pekka 웃 Feb 13 '17 at 20:41
  • Great! TDM has in fact nothing to do with the USB 2.0 speed. Nevertheless it's a wise decision to use an external enclosure as you won't get the maximum bandwidth with FW800 in TDM. – oa- Feb 13 '17 at 22:08
  • Ah, no, I meant I'm actually booting from the external hard disk which is connected through USB 2.0. That works fine, but it's a bit slow to work with. Will definitely be looking for a faster enclosure. – Pekka 웃 Feb 13 '17 at 22:09

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