How To Save Files From Mac To External Hard Drive

  • How to Backup Mac Without an External Hard Drive
  • Before You Backup Your Mac to an External Hard Drive

Jan 09, 2020 Attach the removable storage device to your Mac. Start Disk Drill and select the external hard drive from the list of discovered devices. Click the “ Recover ” button and allow Disk Drill to scan your external drive for files that can be recovered. You will be presented with a list of the files that the tool can restore.

Millions of people flock to buy a Mac because of its beautiful design and superb operating system. However, more important than the laptop itself are the contents that exist on it. Should damage or malfunction arise, it’s important to know how to backup a Mac to an external hard drive to ensure you can keep all your files.

Key Takeaways:

  • Backing up your Mac ensures you don’t lose your files.
  • iDrive, Backblaze and Carbonite are great cloud options for backing up your Mac.
  • Restoring your Mac files and data is a simple and relatively quick process.

Thankfully, Apple is aware of how important personal files are to its customers. Because of this, the tech giant ships its computers with tools specifically designed to help you backup all your content.

Time Machine is a built-in application for macOS that allows you to backup files such as documents, photos, and apps. To use Time Machine, you’ll need to attach an external hard drive to your Mac (check out our list of the best external hard drives).

From here, we’ll show you everything you need to do to create and save a backup of all your files, starting with tips on what you should do before you begin your backup.

  • Cloudwards updated this article to include the Time Machine recovery process, how to back up without an external drive, and how to remove junk files.

  • The size of the external hard drive you need all depends on how much information you need to backup. Time Machine informs you of the total size of your backup. Light users may be fine with a 240GB hard drive, whereas heavy users may need something closer to 1TB.

  • The amount of time it takes to backup your Mac depends on how many files you have. Time Machine will notify you of the estimated time it will take to complete a backup when the backup is in process.

  • In the Time Machine window, select “options.” Tap the “+” sign, and from here you can choose which files you wish to exclude from the backup.

How to Backup Mac to External Hard Drive

Backing up all your content on macOS is relatively simple, and because Time Machine comes preinstalled, getting started takes no time at all. It’s also free to use, whereas alternative options usually come at a cost.

It does lack some features. For example, while you can authorize Time Machine to do automatic backups, there’s no way to program how often those backups take place. Instead, Time Machine can make hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, or weekly backups for all previous months.

There’s also no option for drive cloning. This means you are unable to duplicate your hard drive and easily use it to boot up your system and all its contents, without going through the full process of restoring your files.

The lack of those extra features doesn’t make Apple’s own backup solution a bad option. For most users, it offers what they need to backup their Mac. With that said, let’s get into our step-by-step guide on backing up your Mac to an external drive with Time Machine.

Step by Step: Backing up Your Mac to an External Hard Drive With Time Machine

  1. Locate System Preferences in the Apple Menu

    To start the process of backing up your Mac to your external drive, take your cursor to the top-left side of your desktop. Select the Apple logo and tap “system preferences.”

  2. Select Time Machine

    After opening system preferences, you will notice a range of options available.“Time Machine” is located in the bottom row. When you select it, you will move to the next window.

  3. Select Backup Disk

    Now that you’re in the Time Machine window, you need to tap “select backup disk.” Here you’ll choose where you want to backup your Mac. Select your external hard drive and press “use disk.”

  4. Select Your Hard Drive and Encrypt Backup

    Next, tap “select disk” and select your hard drive again. You will see the option to “encrypt backups.” We recommend selecting this option as it adds further security for your files and keeps them safe from unwanted third parties gaining access to them.

  5. Create a Password for Your Backup

    If you opted to encrypt your backup, you will be asked to create a password. Don’t forget your password, as without it you won’t be able to access your backups. Tap “encrypt disk” and you’re ready to move on to the next step.

  6. Wait for Backup to Begin

    After encrypting your disk, you will return to the main window inside Time Machine. On the right-hand side of the window, you will see that “backup automatically” is checked and Time Machine is preparing your backup.

    At this point you don’t need to do anything. Time Machine will automatically backup your Mac and notify you how much time it will take to complete. You will receive a notification in the top right-hand corner of your desktop when your backup has finished.

How To Save Files From Mac To External Hard Drive Best Buy

Alternatives to Time Machine for Backing up Mac

Although Time Machine is the default option for backing up your Mac, it doesn’t mean it’s the best. There are several alternatives out there that offer different features than Time Machine that some users may find attractive.

iDrive is one of the more popular backup solutions (read our iDrive review or check out the website here). In addition to allowing you to backup your Mac to an external drive, you can also back it up to the cloud. Having a hybrid backup option is one of the reasons we ranked iDrive as one of the best cloud storage services.

To keep things in-house, you can also backup your Mac through the disk utility app. Rather than do a standard backup, disk utility creates a disk image of your drive, which you can then transfer as a file to a different computer or use as backup for your current one. However, there are no automated backups with disk utility, and many users believe it’s not as reliable as Time Machine.

How to Backup Mac Without an External Hard Drive

If you’d rather not pay the up-front cost of an external hard drive, or don’t like the idea of carrying it around, there are alternative ways to backup your Mac.

The first option is to backup your Mac to iCloud (read our iCloud review here). Be mindful, though, that you’ll most likely have to pay for extra iCloud storage, as the free 5GB given to users isn’t going to be enough.

For moderate users, 200GB ($2.99 per month) may be sufficient. Heavy users, like video editors and photographers, will likely need up to 2TB of storage ($9.99 per month) to have adequate storage space.

How to Backup Mac with iCloud

Backing up the contents of your Mac is simple. Open up “finder,” and on the left-hand side of the window you will see “iCloud.” You can easily drag folders, including apps, into the iCloud tab and they will automatically sync to your account.

Be aware that, unlike Time Machine, you can’t do hourly updates of the files you have backed up, so if you make changes to your files, you will need to manually send them to iCloud. This is where third-party cloud options come into play.

Alternatives to iCloud

Although iCloud is the in-house solution, it’s not one of the best cloud backup options for your Mac. Services like Backblaze (read our Backblaze review or check out Backblaze’s website here) offer automatic backups, unlimited storage space and best-in-class encryption to ensure your files remain private and secure.

Carbonite (read our Carbonite review or check out Carbonite’s website here) is another fantastic option, especially when it comes to restoring your Mac. The service offers a more detailed, step-by-step approach when you restore all your files and data. It’s extremely well priced too, offering unlimited storage for just $6 per month.

Before You Backup Your Mac to an External Hard Drive

Before you backup your Mac to an external hard drive, here are three quick suggestions before you backup:

  1. Get rid of junk files
  2. Check available storage on Mac
  3. Make sure your hard drive is properly formatted

Tip 1: Get Rid of Junk Files

There’s likely a lot of junk files on your Mac that you didn’t know existed. These files quickly add up in size and take up unnecessary storage space. Before backing up your Mac, it’s a good idea to remove as many junk files as possible. It will save both time and space when doing manual or automatic backups, as well as when you restore your Mac files.

There are several ways to remove unwanted files. You can delete them manually, or use third-party software that helps you remove all the unnecessary clutter.

  1. Locate Files in “About This Mac”

    To do it manually, go to the Apple menu, select “about this Mac,” tap “storage” and then click “manage.”

  2. Identify the Categories with Unnecessary Files

    On the left-hand side of the storage window, your files are broken down into different categories, including documents, music, photos, messages and mail. You have to go through each category individually and identify which files you no longer need. Sure, this is time-consuming, but it gives you control over what files you keep on your Mac and what files you delete.

  3. Use Apple’s Recommendations

    Apple helps users manage their storage by offering smart recommendations for where they can clean up their clutter. Here you can see your files broken down into separate sections such as “large files,”“downloads” and “unsupported apps.” Anything you see that you don’t need, you can delete.

If you don’t want to spend hours cleaning up your Mac, we recommend using CleanMyMac. The tool gets to many of the files you can’t see such as cache files, language files and system log files. The software identifies which files are not used and recommends removing them. Not only does this free up storage space, it can also improve the overall performance of your Mac.

Tip 2: Check Available Storage on Mac

Checking how much available storage you have on your Mac is simple. Again, go to the Apple menu, select “about this Mac” and tap “storage.” Here you will see how much storage you have used, and how much storage you have available.

Tip 3: Make Sure Your Hard Drive Is Properly Formatted

If you’re using an external hard drive that was previously formatted for a Windows PC or you’re using it for the first time, you will need to format it to be compatible with macOS. Be aware that reformatting an external drive often means deleting all of its content — if you still have files you don’t want to lose, you will need to backup your hard drive to another computer.

To begin formatting, ensure your external drive is connected to your Mac. Apple recommends connecting your hard drive directly to your Mac with a USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire port connection, rather than using an adapter (USB to Thunderbolt, for example). However, when backing up our Mac, we used a USB adapter and experienced no issues at any point throughout the process.

  1. Locate Disk Utility in Launchpad

    Once you’re connected, select “launchpad,” find the “other” folder and select “disk utility.”

  2. Select Your Hard Drive and Erase

    On the right hand side, under “external,” you’ll be able to see your hard drive. Select it, and then tap “erase” at the top of the screen.

  3. Choose Format

    When formatting your hard drive, you’ll notice several formatting options, including Mac OS Extended journaled, MS-DOS (FAT32) and exFAT. We recommend selecting exFAT, as it can backup files of any size, whereas FAT32 is limited to files of up to 4GB. Now you’re fully formatted and ready to go.

Now that you’ve prepared for the backup process, let’s show you how to backup Macs to external hard drives.

Restoring Your Mac With a Time Machine Backup

If you have purchased a new Mac or needed to reinstall macOS on your current computer, you’ll need to restore your files from a Time Machine backup. There’s a handful of steps you’ll need to go through to do this.

  1. Open Migration Assistant

    Select “launchpad,” locate the “other” folder and then select “migration assistant.” You’ll need to enter your system password to begin the process of restoring your backup.

  2. Select How You Want to Transfer Your Information

    On the next screen you will be presented with three options for how you wish to transfer your information; select “from a Mac, Time Machine or startup disk.” You will receive a prompt to plug in your power adapter. It’s a good idea to do this, as restoring your Mac may take several hours, depending on the size of your backup.

  3. Select Your External Hard Drive

    Next, you will see your external hard drive at the top of the window. Select it and press “continue.”

  4. Select Which Time Machine Backup You Want to Restore

    If you have made several backups, choose which one you want to restore and press “continue.”

  5. Select What Information You Want to Restore

    Now you will be asked which information you want to restore from your backup. Here, you can choose all of the files, or just the files you prefer. Once you have identified which files you wish to restore, tap “continue.” Your Mac will begin to restore the Time Machine backup you selected.

Final Thoughts: Backup Mac Options

Backing up your files is one of the best decisions you can make as a Mac owner. For many of you, knowing your files are backed up gives you the peace of mind that you can recover them should you experience any issues with your computer in the future. So if you’re thinking about whether you should backup your Mac, the answer is yes, you should.

Do you have any questions about backing up your Apple computer? Is there anything we didn’t cover that you wish we did? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

On this page, I'll be showing you the complete process of how to configuring NTFS storage devices and make them accessible on a Mac computer. If you are looking for a way to copy files from Mac to an external hard drive or USB in NTFS format, follow the guide below. You'll make the NTFS storage devices work on your Mac computer.

Guide 1. Enable NTFS Write Support to External Hard Drive on Mac
Guide 2. Transfer or Copy Files from Mac to External Hard Drive

Using Google Chrome on Windows, I am trying to download or copy + paste all of my files to an external hard drive so I can delete them afterwards and downgrade my iCloud drive subscription to something cheaper. I have tried to find a way but I can't seem to find a way to grab them all at once. Download Directly To External Hard Drive Mac Key Features of AnyTrans. It can help you transfer photos from external hard drive/computer to iPhone/iPad without data loss. It allows you to transfer iPhone/iPad photos to external hard drive/computer as backup, or to another device directly. I’m trying to download google drive files directly to a portable hard drive instead of my computer (I don’t have enough space on my computer). All of the advice online tells me to click download and then when prompted, click save to flash drive. But my google drive doesn’t give me the option to save the file anywhere. As to the question, IF the external drive is ON LINE, you can change the download location to a folder there. Note: Remember to clean out the hard drive now and then. I have a 1 TB hard drive and a 3 TB external. I use the external for everything I have.

How Do I Copy Files from My Mac to an External Hard Drive in NTFS Format?

Can Mac use the NTFS external hard drive? I wanted to copy some important files from Mac to my external hard drive as a backup but just couldn't. Is there a way that can configure Mac to work with Windows NT File System? Yes!

The reason why you can't transfer files between a Mac computer and an NTFS external storage device is that the NTFS format is not a compatible file system in macOS. Apple macOS doesn't have the right to write to an NTFS device.

And that explains why that you can only view and see the content in your external hard drive but can't make any changes to the content, such as editing, modifying, correcting, removing, or deleting.

So how to make it possible to copy files from Mac to an external hard drive? Follow the complete guides below, you'll acquire the access to copy or transfer files between Mac and the NTFS external hard drive successfully.

Guide 1. Enable NTFS Write Support to External Hard Drive on Mac

To configure Mac working with NTFS-formatted storage devices, your first step is to enable NTFS write support on Mac computer. Here we connected 3 practical methods with detailed steps that you can follow a favored method to start:

#1. Format NTFS External Disk to FAT
#2. Enable NTFS Write Support via EaseUS NTFS for Mac - 1-Click Fix
#3. Enable NTFS Write Support via Terminal

Your Quick Guide:

  • If you have essential files saved in the external hard drive, or you want to copy files from Mac to an external hard drive without formatting, try Method 2 or Method 3.
  • For the easiest way to configure Mac working with NTFS-formatted devices, follow Method 2 and take third-party & 1-click fix for a try.

Let's get started.

Method 1. Format NTFS External Hard Drive to FAT

Tool: Mac Disk Utility

Duration: 2-5 minutes

Apple Mac operating systems are designed to support HPFS, APFS, HFS+, HFS, and FAT32, etc., file systems. As for the NTFS format, macOS only supports reading content in the device. To obtain access to modify, correct, add, or remove data from the NTFS external hard drive on Mac, you can format the device to the FAT file system.

Note that this will result in data loss. So make sure that you back up essential files in advance.

Here are the steps to format NTFS external hard drive to FAT on Mac:

Step 1. Connect the NTFS external hard drive to Mac.

Step 2. Go to Finder, click 'Applications' > 'Utilities' > Double-click to open Disk Utility.

Step 3. Select the NTFS external hard drive and click 'Erase' in Disk Utility.

Step 4. Select 'MS-DOS (FAT)' as the new file system format for the external hard drive, then click 'Erase'.

Method 2. 1-Click to Enable NTFS Write Support via EaseUS NTFS for Mac

Tool: EaseUS NTFS for Mac

Duration: Within 1 Minute

Is there a way that can configure NTFS external hard drive access on Mac without formatting? Sure! Third-party software like EaseUS NTFS for Mac can enable NTFS write support on Mac so to make your NTFS external hard drive writable automatically.

With it, you can manually or automatically enable accessibility on Mac to read, write, modify, copy, transfer, and even delete files on an NTFS external hard drive. How to use it?

Here are the steps:

Step 1. Launch and activate EaseUS NTFS for Mac. Click 'I already have a license' to unlock this software.

Step 2. Connect an NTFS drive to Mac, EaseUS NTFS for Mac will automatically detect the device. Select your drive and you'll see it's now marked as 'Read-only'. Click 'Enable Writable' to add read and write rights to the drive.

Step 3. When the state of NTFS drives turns into 'Writable', click 'Open'. NTFS for Mac will open the NTFS drive on Mac.

Step 4. Now, you can check, read, write, and even modify saved data on the NTFS device.

As long as you enabled the NTFS write support to your external EaseUS NTFS for Mac will detect the NTFS external hard drive and automatically enable it on Mac.

After this, you can open the NTFS external hard drive on a Mac computer and make changes to the saved data flexibly.

Method 3. Enable NTFS Write Support via Terminal

Tool: Mac Command Tool - Terminal

Duration: 2-3 minutes

The last way that you can try is to turn to the Mac built-in command tool -Terminal for help. It requires that you need to be familiar with Mac computer operations and be very careful. Any false operation may cause serious results.

Let's see how to make your NTFS external hard drive writeable on Mac computers:

Step 1. Go to Finder > Click 'Applicatinos' > 'Utilites' > Double-click to open 'Terminal'.

Step 2. Connect the NTFS external hard drive to your Mac computer.

Step 3. Type sudo nano /etc/fstab in Terminaland press Return.

Step 4. Type LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw, auto, nobrowse in Terminaland replace NAME with the name of your NTFS external hard drive.

Step 5. Press Control + Oto save the changes.

Step 6. Press Control + X to close Terminal.

Unable To Save Files From Mac To External Hard Drive

Step 7. Go to Finder, click 'Go' > 'Go to Folder' > Type '/Volumes' and click 'Go'.

After this, Mac will list your external hard drive with the internal hard drives on Mac in the Volumes pane. And you can then follow the guide in the next part to copy files from Mac to an external hard drive successfully.

Guide 2. Transfer or Copy Files from Mac to External Hard Drive

Step 1. Open the external hard drive.

Step 2. Open the internal disk or folder, where you saved essential files for copying or transferring.

Step 3. Drag the files from a Mac local volume or folder and drop the data into the external hard drive.

Repeat the operation until you copied all the desired files from Mac to the external hard drive.

NTFS External Disks Need Write Support for File Transferring on Mac, Go and Make It Work Now

Note that when you directly connect an external hard drive to a Mac computer, you'll be presented with Read-Only limits on the disk. As a result, you can only view files and file content on the external hard drive on Mac.


To obtain access to editing, modifying, copying, transferring, or even deleting files or file content on the NTFS external hard drive, you need to first enable NTFS write support on Mac. To do so, you have three options here for help:

  1. 1. Format external disk to FAT
  2. 2. Use EaseUS NTFS for Mac
  3. 3. Use Terminal

How To Save Files From Mac To External Hard Drive Using

For the easiest solution, don't miss EaseUS NTFS for Mac as it'll automatically enable the drive modification authority to your Mac computer once the NTFS external hard drive is detected by this software. To make use of the NTFS external hard drive between your Windows and Mac computer, follow the solutions on this page to make it work now.

Are you looking for an answer to this question- “how to download photos from google drive directly to the hard drive”? Then it’s time to take a deep breath of comfort because you landed on the right page. Now you are getting all the possible ways through which you will be able to migrate all your google drive photos to the external drive which are connect to your PC.

When you are trying to download google drive photos then you see yourself that these photos always download in the ZIP file format. So the question arises, “Are we still able to download all the photos of the google drive directly to the hard drive”. So the answer to this question is “No” we can’t because there is not any direct method as such. So, we have to take the help of other indirect methods to download google photos.

How to download Google photos to a hard drive?


To download all the photos from the google drive, just follow the steps given below:-

How To Save Files From Mac To External Hard Drive Download

How To Download Large Files Directly Into External Hard Drive

  • Open your browser.
  • Type google photos there.
  • From here, select all the photos which you want to transfer.
  • Then click on the 3 dots present on the right-hand side.
  • Hit on the download button. This will download all your google photos on the download folder in the ZIP file format.
  • Right-click on the zip folder and click on the Copy option.
  • Go to the external drive folder in which you want to transfer your photos.
  • Do right click on that ZIP folder and then hit on the paste option.
  • Right-click on the zip folder and then hit on the unzip option.

Now all your google drive photos are moved to the external drive folder in which you want to save them.

Downloading All Files from Google Drive

The method to download all the files from Google Drive is basically the same. The files can be present in different folders, you just need to follow the below steps:

  1. Firstly, open Google Drive, all the files that are present on your drive will be displayed.
  2. Then, choose all files that you wish to download and then click on the (…) icon. You will see several options on the screen.
  3. Now, click on the Download option and the files will be automatically downloaded to your PC.
  4. You can also select the Make Available Offline option to start the download process. To save the files on your system.

Note: The above-mentioned method is the same for downloading photos, videos, music files, documents, or zip files. A message will pop up where the drive says that it can’t scan for the virus in the file. You have to opt for the Download Anyway option. After that, files will be downloaded to your device.

May Read:

An alternate way to Download Google Photos to the external Hard Drive

What to do if the above method fails?Well, in such a situation, you can opt for the Gmail backup tool. It provides the facility to download and export data items from Gmail account like Google Drive data to the computer, external hard drives, USB drive, etc. The utility facilitates it’s users to backup Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, and Images.

Learn Here: How to Fix Outlook Data File Cannot be Found Error

Final Thoughts

How To Download Files To External Hard Drive

Now, in this technical blog, we have discussed how to transfer Google drive photos to the external drive. Also, we got to know the answer “can we able to take the backup of our google photos directly to the external hard drive or not”. If we have to take backup only in our external hard drive then we can use the method that is recommended in this blog.