How To Copy Files From Mac To USB Hard Drive

When I copy files from macOS X to a USB external hard drive disk with both command or drag and drop action, the operation can not be processed. After some time investigate with google, I finally found the reason. This article will tell you how to resolve can not copy files from macOS to USB external hard drive disk issue.

1. Format The USB Disk With ExFat File Format.

The main reason for this issue is macOS can only read NTFS format files but can not write files to NTFS disk. So if the USB disk is NTFS format, then the copy and paste operation can not be operated. So we should change the USB Disk file format to others such as FAT or ExFAT. And ExFat is a more good choice.

1.1 Change USB Disk File Format Steps.

  1. Open macOS Finder —> Applications —> Utilities —> Disk Utility.
  2. Select the USB disk in the left panel.
  3. Then click the Erase button at the top of the right panel. Select ExFAT in the Format drop-down list and begin to format.
  4. After the format process complete successfully, you can copy files from macOS to USB disk successfully.

2. How To Copy Files From macOS To USB External Hard Drive In Command-Line.

  1. Open a terminal and run the command cp -R Documents /usb.
  2. The -R parameter will copy all the subdirectories under the Documents directory to the USB external hard drive.
  3. But above command may raise an error message such as usb/Pics: No such file or directory.
  4. This is because the USB external hard drive is mounted under /Volumes folder, so you should add the /Volumes directory before USB disk name when you run the cp command.
    cp -R Documents /Volumes/usb-name


  1. What’s the Difference Between FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS?
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Gregory LEDGER
Gregory LEDGER

I have an app that allows me to transfer data to and from an NTFS (Windows drive); is it still necessary to do the Ex-FAT setup?


Thanks !

nifras ulms
nifras ulms


kulpreet singh sandhu
kulpreet singh sandhu

Thanks so much, Dear it really works
now I can paste items

Asad Hanif
Asad Hanif

After formatting the disk like this, is it still usable on windows machines?

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