How do I save all these photos and music?
August 9, 2022 5:30 AM   Subscribe

How do I retrieve documents from a dead Mac desktop? I have an external back up of the hard drive, but no clue what to do with that.

I have a mac desktop (about 12 years old) that just won't boot up. It just freezes on the big white screen with the progress bar and the logo and never finishes loading the OS. I have no idea why. I worked yesterday and now it just won't.

I have a lifetime of music and photos on it, all backed up to an external hard drive.

I am not tech savvy. I need the simplest solution to save my Itunes library and all my photos. There's nothing else even on that hard drive that I care about. I am not interested in fixing the mac unless that is the only way. I'll buy a new one, or invest in a cloud solution if need be.

I know Macs are different than the older ones and don't use Itunes anymore? (see my note about not being tech savvy). Is there a way to transfer what I have on the external drive onto a new mac desktop? Can I upload that all to the cloud somehow? Am I just screwed here?

Is there some easy keyboard trick during boot up that I can use to bypass something and get this thing back on?
posted by archimago to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You are not screwed.

You probably have two copies of all your data: one on the external hard drive and one on the Mac hard drive, assuming it’s not damaged. You’re in a good place.

“Is there some easy keyboard trick during boot up that I can use to bypass something and get this thing back on?”

There’s macOS Recovery, which you can access by holding down Command+R while restarting. It might work.

What sort of backup do you have on the external hard drive?

If it’s a Time Machine backup, you can restore it to a new Mac and it will be like your old Mac (but it’ll be smart enough to leave the new operating system and applications alone on your new Mac).

If it’s a clone of the hard drive, you can probably just plug it in to a new Mac and browse through the files there. You’ll find your music on the external hard drive in Users/Your Name/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music as plain files. Photos are a bit more complicated because they’re stored in a package (a special kind of folder) but there’ll all be there on the external hard drive in Users/Your Name/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary.

If you can say what kind of backup you have, we can provide more specific instructions. Knowing the macOS version of your old Mac would also be useful.
posted by kyten at 5:57 AM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here is what Apple recommends doing when your computer gets stuck on the startup screen, as you describe. If this doesn't resolve the problem, follow the links on that page to further steps you can take. Ultimately, it may involve re-installing the operating system. If you end up doing that you'll have to restore all your data from the backup drive as explained in kyten's comment.
posted by theory at 6:00 AM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

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