First Mac File Help Needed

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by icecubes, May 28, 2012.

  1. icecubes macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2012
    Hello everyone.

    I just purchased my first Mac. It's an iMac desktop.

    Here is the main issue I'm having: transferring files.

    This is what I do: Connect my external drive and SD card to the Mac. Open both in Finder. Click on a file from my SD card and drag it to the external drive.

    Here's what happens: It won't move the file. I get a "no" sign. I have also tried opening one in Finder and the other in Bridge, but I cannot transfer files that way, either. I can transfer files to the Mac hard drive. But I cannot transfer those files to the external drive, which is where I want them.

    To further complicate things, when I use my laptop (not a Mac) to transfer files from the SD card to the external drive, I cannot save those files as new files on my Mac.

    For instance, I transferred a file from my SD card to my external drive on a PC laptop. I connected that external drive to my Mac. I opened one of those files in photoshop. I altered the image and clicked "Save." I was given an error that said the file was not writeable. However, when I open that same file on the SD card, it's original location, I'm able to alter it in photoshop and save it with no trouble.

    This is a bit of a hassle for me. It means that I must create files on my SD cards, that I cannot transfer these files to an external drive unless I use a laptop, and I cannot alter images in a program that are saved on the external drive.

    I sure hope someone can help me figure this out. Thanks in advance! :)
  2. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    I'm going to hazard a guess that your external drive is in Windows NTFS format. OS X out of the box can only read NTFS volumes and cannot write.

    If the drive is to be used solely with OS X the best option is to backup the data, reformat the drive in OS X HFS+ and copy the files back.
  3. icecubes thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2012
    Thank you so much. I'm a total newbie to Macs, so you are probably correct in your assumption that the drive is in Windows format, as I have used the drive only in Windows, so it makes sense.

    Is there anyway to go around backup, reformat, and copy? I say this because I literally have several thousand image files.

    I appreciate your help!
  4. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Not to my knowledge.


    Quick follow up.

    The only other option would be something like Paragon NTFS for Mac which is software that allows OS X to read and write to NTFS volume. It's not bulletproof however. I wouldn't trust important data to it.

    Backup and reformat to HFS+ is the best option in my opinion.
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Regardless.... if that external HDD (NTFS or otherwise) contains your only copies of those images then you need to back them up... regardless of what you do to the external HDD.

    Easiest thing to do is to buy a new external HDD, and format it with HFS+ (for the iMac). Then copy all of the files from the 1st to the new HDD. At this point you can, actually stop. You now have your images in a place the iMac can use. And the old HDD has become the backup copy. The downside is that you won't be able to add new images to the "backup" HDD - but if you have a different way of backing up those new images you can tuck that 1st HDD away somewhere for the day you need to recover the images.

    A more thorough solution would be to reformat the 1st (NTFS) HDD with HFS+ and then use it as a Time Machine backup (or a cloned backup) of your images (now living on that the 2nd, new, HDD).

    Formatting is easy.... in fact maybe too easy.... absolutely make sure you know what you are doing before formatting a drive... label everything clearly, and create a written checklist to work from. You don't want to reformat the images until you have a good known working copy.

  6. icecubes thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2012
    Thanks again. Appreciate your help. :)

    Thanks so much. Appreciate the explanation. it's helpful, as I'm new to this and starting from scratch. I have a new external drive that has not been used yet. I'm assuming after reformatting it, I can just connect my other external drive and copy the files over? Or do I have to reformat those files before copying them? I'm thinking I will just use the old external as backup, plus my laptop is a PC, and occasionally I use it for images when traveling.

    At any rate, I need to read up on formatting, as well as several other things!

    Thanks again.
  7. icecubes thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2012

    Just wanted to update and say the problem has been resolved.

    I reformatted a new external drive. I used MS DOS Fat because I want to copy files from a PC formatted drive onto this new one. It worked. I was able to copy the files over and alter them in photoshop then save a new copy on the drive with no issues.

    Thanks again for the help! :)
  8. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    Just so you know, FAT 32 (what you're using) doesn't support file sizes bigger than 4 Gb. So if you want to copy for example a movie you made that's 4.2 Gb in size, it won't copy to that drive.

    You might use iPhoto and store the iphoto library on the external hard drive and see that the iPhoto library is bigger than 4 Gb. That's because it isn't actually one file. All the files inside the library are smaller than 4 Gb.

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