Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X > USB-A to USB-C connections via USB Target Mode not usable by Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant

USB-A to USB-C connections via USB Target Mode not usable by Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant

Apple has updated its Using the USB-C port and adapters on your MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) KBase article to provide more detail about USB Target Mode. One piece of information that jumped out at me was this section:

Screen Shot 2015 04 19 at 1 58 44 PM

For reference, a USB-A connector looks like this.

USB A cable

Based on my reading of the KBase article, you will not be able to connect a 2015 MacBook in USB Target Disk Mode to a Mac with USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports and expect to be able to transfer data via Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant to the USB 2.0/3.0-equipped Mac. 

There are a couple of workarounds for this limitation:

  1. Cloning the MacBook’s drive to an external drive and plugging that external drive into the USB 2.0/3.0-equipped Mac.
  2. Creating a Time Machine backup of the MacBook’s drive and accessing the Time Machine backup on the USB 2.0/3.0-equipped Mac.

Both of these workarounds should allow the MacBook’s data to be accessible by Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant.

  1. Mike H
    April 20, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    What about the other direction? What if we want to migrate data to the Macbook? Would it be network only? Or would thunderbolt/firewire to USB-C work?

  2. Maurits Sanders
    April 22, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I read this kbase article and I think this is the background:
    The new Macbook does support USB target disk mode, so it can present itself to an other Mac as disk.

    The Migration assistant needs the older Mac to be in target disk mode, and will therefor not work while migrating from older Mac to MacBook (retina 12″).
    You should be able to migrate with the assistant (in the future) from MacBook (retina 12″) to any other Mac with any type of USB port.

    However, if you put the Macbook (retina 12″) in target disk mode, you can copy file from you older mac (any with USB A port) to the new macbook (in the article ‘manual transfer data’)

    Both your suggestions for migration are correct, but do not forget to add the option to migrate over the network. Wifi may take a while, (UTP ethernet requires adapters not yet available) but any type of network supports migration assistant.

  3. steve
    August 19, 2015 at 12:53 am

    does not work, mb retina c-usb connector tried 2 type a male to male to connect older 2010 macbook.

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