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Flint Ironstag

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Dec 1, 2013
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Houston, TX USA
iPad Pro ~= iMac at this point. I could consider extending my experiment (iPad Pro no laptop ~2years now) if I could connect standard hard drives and interact with the most common filesystems natively. Including Macs in target disk mode. We should've had this from day one, but anyway.

What do you guys think - will 3rd party come to the rescue? Maybe there's already a solution I don't know about.
 
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Wando64

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Jul 11, 2013
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You can “connect standard hard drives and interact with the most common filesystems natively” via the Files App.

I have never tried to access a Mac disk in target mode. It would probably work but frankly, why would you? Do you have a specific need, such as needing to read the disk of a Mac that can no longer be booted, or is it just a theoretical argument?
 
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AutomaticApple

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Nov 28, 2018
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iPad Pro ~= iMac at this point. I could consider extending my experiment (iPad Pro no laptop ~2years now) if I could connect standard hard drives and interact with the most common filesystems natively. Including Macs in target disk mode. We should've had this from day one, but anyway.

What do you guys think - will 3rd party come to the rescue? Maybe there's already a solution I don't know about.
Do you have a specific use case for target disk mode?
 
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Wando64

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Jul 11, 2013
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I use target disk mode frequently, for all of the most common reasons, pick any one.
As far as I am aware there is only one reason to use target mode, but... whatever, if it behaves like any other external disks then it should still work.

The fact that you didn’t know you could connect external disks to the iPad makes me think you have not tried to connect a Mac in target mode either.
I would just try and see what happens.

By the way, you don’t need to “mount” disks in iPadOS. They become immediately accessible the moment they are connected.
 
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Flint Ironstag

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Dec 1, 2013
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I don't have any machine free to test at the moment. Tried several years ago, no joy. Surprised nobody is certain of the current state of affairs.
 

Wando64

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Jul 11, 2013
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I don't have any machine free to test at the moment. Tried several years ago, no joy. Surprised nobody is certain of the current state of affairs.
I am not surprised at all. Connecting a Mac in target disk mode is not something that is ordinarily done in the normal course of a normal day.
You are saying that you use it frequently. Why don’t you just try?
It is a pretty simple test to do.

You have an iPad Pro, yes?
You have Macs which you frequently start in Target Disk mode.
Put a usb-C cable between the two, then open the Files App on your iPad and check if you can see the disk.

Let us know, so that the next time someone asks we can offer better help.
 
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AlexanderUK

macrumors member
Jun 25, 2020
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If you connect a USB hard disk to your iPad, Apple supports via the files app natively (Fat32, ExFat, APFS, NTFS) out of the box.
The only things that files doesn't support are mountable volumes like (ISO, TruCrypt, DMG, SparseBundle), etc.
If you're wanting to browse a filesystem thats mountable, there is an app for that (it costs a dollar I think) called Disk Decipher https://disk-decipher.app/ which I've had success with (useful for keeping encrypted docs GDPR safe in a sparsebundle).
Aside from that, if you want to examine an active mac's filesystem from an iPad, why not just use a remote desktop tool so you can take control of the machine and there-by poke the files as you wish (heck you can transfer between iPad and Mac using AirDrop whilst doing this). iPads otherwise weren't intended to be used for rooting the underlying OS.
 

Flint Ironstag

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 1, 2013
1,329
743
Houston, TX USA
I am not surprised at all. Connecting a Mac in target disk mode is not something that is ordinarily done in the normal course of a normal day.
You are saying that you use it frequently. Why don’t you just try?
It is a pretty simple test to do.

You have an iPad Pro, yes?
You have Macs which you frequently start in Target Disk mode.
Put a usb-C cable between the two, then open the Files App on your iPad and check if you can see the disk.

Let us know, so that the next time someone asks we can offer better help.
My machines are in production (like for several more weeks, possibly months and can't be interrupted).
If you connect a USB hard disk to your iPad, Apple supports via the files app natively (Fat32, ExFat, APFS, NTFS) out of the box.
The only things that files doesn't support are mountable volumes like (ISO, TruCrypt, DMG, SparseBundle), etc.
If you're wanting to browse a filesystem thats mountable, there is an app for that (it costs a dollar I think) called Disk Decipher https://disk-decipher.app/ which I've had success with (useful for keeping encrypted docs GDPR safe in a sparsebundle).
Aside from that, if you want to examine an active mac's filesystem from an iPad, why not just use a remote desktop tool so you can take control of the machine and there-by poke the files as you wish (heck you can transfer between iPad and Mac using AirDrop whilst doing this). iPads otherwise weren't intended to be used for rooting the underlying OS.
Not a solution for this problem, but thanks - will check out that app.
 

007p

macrumors 6502a
Mar 7, 2012
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They become immediately accessible the moment they are connected.
Immediately is a bit of stretch ?
But yes they don’t have to be mounted. Though I’d be interested to know what it is doing when I connect a disk? Example, 4tb ssd:

APFS: Shows up in files app after a few seconds. Max 20 or so.

Exfat: May or may not show up in files app. If it does, it takes over 2 minutes. Last time I checked it took about 2 and half minutes to show.

Not really sure why, it’s obviously something to do with the disk format, but curious as to what specifically it doesn’t like. The amount of time seems to increase the larger the disk too, so I presume it’s related somehow to size.

I thought there was a problem with the disk before I realised I’d never tried non APFS large disks before. Expect HFS+ would have same result as APFS ?
 
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