I understand that Apple can unlock it if one provides proof of ownership, but my friend bought his computer on eBay and has been unable to get the original owner's help.

He does not have a recovery key, and has forgotten the password. He decided to come up with a long and clever password, memorized it, and used it daily for about a month. Then his laptop charger broke, and it took him a few weeks to decide to finally get another; consequently, he forgot the long and clever password during this time because he wasn't constantly using it daily like he normally would.

Forget the icloud reset option, he didn't bother turning that on.

He's sure he never turned FileVault on, if that matters.

Aside from him being a fool for not better securing a record of this long and clever password, is there any way possible for him to regain access his data?

I've done a little research, but can't find a definitive answer so I figured I'd see if any of you smart people might have some insight.

Also, what is the point of FileVault on a Mac with the T2 security chip if the chip is already responsible for encrypting the drive?

Does having a Mac with a T2 chip automatically prevent someone from booting into Recovery mode or Target Disk Mode or from accessing disk utility or a terminal without having a user's password credential?

Finally, are there any stipulations associated with having FileVault turned on or off on Mac with the T2 chip, with respect to booting the device into something like Target Disk Mode?

What's the point of FileVault being turned off if the outcome to my question is, NO, the data on his drive is unrecoverable and gone forever...?

  • 1
    Hi @bigg_b - there are several questions in your post - I recommend focusing on a single one.
    – Scot
    Oct 13, 2022 at 0:45
  • Tell your friend that he should be backing up his data, if he doesn't want to lose it. I had the logic board fail on my T2 2018 Mini. Boom. Data inaccessible, since the storage is soldered on. Luckily, I have other copies of my data.
    – benwiggy
    Oct 13, 2022 at 10:04

1 Answer 1


To answer the most important question in your post - if FileVault is off, then your friend can use Target Disk Mode to access the data on the laptop.

As for some of your other questions - you can read up on the nature of the T2 chip and how it works, but in short, the T2 manages the encryption of the drive, which is always active. Even with FileVault off, if a drive is removed from the machine, the data is inaccessible due to the encryption that is locked to the T2 chip.

However, with the drive in place on the original machine, and FileVault off, the T2 chip will decrypt the data on the drive without needing a password, and Target Disk Mode can be used to access the data.

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