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I have a MacBook Pro late 2011 with Thunderbolt booted into Target Disk Mode, as well as a Gigabyte motherboard model number GA-Z77X-UP4 TH running Windows 7. The MBP has two internal disks formatted for Mac OS X. The two are connected via a Thunderbolt cable - not a displayport cable (though I did try that).

I am trying to access the internal disks' partitions of the MBP from Windows Explorer, though currently they do not show up.

Things I have already done:

  • Installed drivers on the Windows side (MacDrive 9)
  • Installed the chipset drivers from the Gigabyte product site
    • Intel IME
    • Intel IMF
  • Procured an Apple Thunderbolt cable
  • Formatted a portion of one of the two internal disks in FAT and NTFS

Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do next?

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2 Answers 2

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Well it looks as though this can't happen. For whatever reason, Apple requires both computers be Macs.

I would love to be proven wrong!

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There's another Windows utility you can try: HFS Explorer. If that doesn't work, I would recommend that you try the Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 adapter, which you can purchase for $30 from Apple, and then making a Firewire connection between the two computers.

What do you see on your computer when you plug the mac in? Does it display a notification that it's trying to install device drivers? Does anything show up in the device manager?


After the long comment thread below, I would like to take a moment to summarize the findings. In order for Target Disk mode over Thunderbolt to work, two conditions must be met:

1) The computer in target disk mode must be a mac. 2) The other computer must be a Mac computer running Mac OS

Note: the second condition means that the second computer must be an Apple-made computer. It cannot be a hackintosh. The computer must also be running Mac OS and will not work in Bootcamp. Source for the last point: this thread

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There's a few devices in the 'Manager called "PCI standard PCI-to-PCI bridge" that appeared after Windows indicated it installed drivers for a new device. I was hoping to use TB-to-TB due to the extra speed (will hopefully be running VMs etc off an internal SSD on the MBP) and the time/money already invested in the current setup; I don't see a guarantee that FW won't have the same issue anyways. Does anyone have any experience with that? I'll give HFS Explorer a try tonight. Thanks for the suggestion. –  zwerdlds Jan 18 '13 at 22:35
I have a couple Thunderbolt -> Firewire adapters at work. I can check for you on Monday if this setup works. –  boneyjellyfish Jan 20 '13 at 3:25
I checked three different permutations this morning: 1) Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt 2) Thunderbolt to Firewire 3) Firewire to Firewire Of those, only #3 worked. It was also the only option that had any device drivers install or try to install. This was under a Sandy Bridge iMac running Windows 7. The Target Disk iMac was another Sandy Bridge iMac. –  boneyjellyfish Jan 21 '13 at 13:21
That's just about what I was expecting :\. Thanks for your help! Too bad Apple courts the standard but then doesn't really implement it all the way. Looks like I'll be getting a FW card for the desktop… –  zwerdlds Jan 21 '13 at 17:20
Another thing I'm really curious about is whether you can access a Target Disk mac as part of a thunderbolt daisy chain. For instance, you connect the target disk mac to a cinema display or a pegasus/lacie device and then to the windows computer. Would it work then? Alternatively, if you're looking for speed, you could get a thunderbolt hub and put your VMs on that. Another suggestion if you're looking for more speed than Firewire 800 is to connect both devices to a gigabit ethernet network. –  boneyjellyfish Jan 22 '13 at 16:49

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