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My Mac mini crashed during an OS upgrade and my display simply looks a bit like my opening screen but is refreshing (jumping around?) rapidly with no way to make any keyboard input. I'd rather not do a reset as I have some files I want to keep.

Is there a way I can use my MacBook Air via USB or any other method to access/transfer the files so that I might retain them?

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    The only way to get access like you describe is Target Disk Mode the caveat being you must be able to boot the target computer (which it seems like it's not). Give it a shot. If you can't get that to work, you may want to extract the drive, use a USB to SATA adapter and try some recovery software. – Allan Nov 30 '18 at 22:01
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Allan’s response makes sense to me. I have been pretty successful retrieving files from Mac Minis using a USB to SATA adaptor. I use a Newer Technology USB 3.0 Universal Drive Adapter https://www.newertech.com/storage/

For guides to extracting the drive from the Mini, I rely on iFixIt. https://www.ifixit.com/Search?query=Mac+mini+drive

Denny

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Target disc mode is the most convenient way and this does not rely on OS thus will work even if OS is damaged.

https://support.apple.com/HT201462

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