Home Tech Guides How to Transfer Files from a Mac to a USB Flash Drive

How to Transfer Files from a Mac to a USB Flash Drive

Insert the USB drive into a USB port on your Mac, then navigate to the files or folders you wish to move in Finder. To begin the transfer, drag the item to the USB drive indicated in the sidebar.


It’s simple to copy files to a USB flash drive on a Mac so you can transfer them to another machine or back them up using macOS‘s Finder. This is how.

Copy Files on a Mac Using Finder

To begin, insert your USB flash drive into a USB port on your Mac. Allow your Mac some time to detect it and make it available in the Finder. (We’ll presume the disk has previously been correctly formatted for use with a Mac.)

Note: If you have a typical USB drive with a bigger USB “Type-A” connector and a Mac that only has tiny USB Type-C ports, you’ll need a USB Type-C flash drive or a USB-C to USB-A converter to put the USB drive into your Mac.

Then, in your dock, click the Finder icon to bring Finder to the foreground. The Finder is your Mac’s built-in file-handling application, and it is constantly open.

Look in the sidebar on the left side of the Finder window. (To see the sidebar, go to View > Show Sidebar in the Finder’s menu bar at the top of the screen.)

If your USB drive has been detected, it will appear in the “Location” column. The drive in our example is called “Mac Transfer,” but it may be called anything. It will have a little “eject” icon beside it, indicating that it is a detachable drive.

Tip: You may also use Finder to see if your computer has identified your USB device by selecting Go > Computer from the menu bar. If it’s correctly connected, you’ll see a drive symbol there.

Next, open a Finder window and navigate to the location of the files you want to copy to the USB flash drive. When you find them, drag them to the name of the USB flash drive in your sidebar.

You’ll notice a copy progress indicator popup after dragging the item or items to the drive in the sidebar. This window estimates how long it will take to complete the copy procedure.

Click the little “X” in a circle to terminate the copy process before it finishes. Otherwise, just let the procedure run its course.

Then, on your sidebar, click the name of the USB flash drive to view the contents of the USB flash drive. If the copy procedure was successful, the objects you copied will be listed there.

While this window is open, you may start a second Finder window (by selecting File > New Finder Window or hitting Command+N) and drag files from it into the USB flash drive window. They will be replicated in the same manner as described earlier.

Other Ways to Copy Files on a Mac

There are several ways to copy data to a USB drive on your Mac; we simply demonstrated one of the simplest. Here are a few alternative approaches you might try.

  • Copy & Paste: Right-click on a file, folder, or group of files to choose it. Pick “Copy” from the menu that appears, then browse to the USB drive in Finder, right-click in an available space, and select “Paste Item.” The items will be copied to the drive. Instead of right-clicking, you may use the “Copy” and “Paste” commands in the Finder’s Edit menu.
  • Drag to Desktop Shortcut: Although it is hidden by default, you may make your USB flash drive visible as an icon on your desktop and drag files onto it. To view the icon, pick Finder, then File > Preferences from the menu bar. In the General tab, tick the box next to “External disks” in the “Show these objects on the desktop” section. Whatever you drag onto the drive icon will be instantly copied there.
  • Drag to Dock: You may also drag the icon of a USB flash drive from your desktop or a Finder window into the dock’s shortcuts section. You may copy files to it by dragging them right to the USB drive icon on your dock. If you eject the drive later, the shortcut will remain on your dock and will function the next time you connect it.

You may discover more ways to copy data to a USB device as you study your Mac further. You’ll be able to perform it naturally without thinking about it after you’ve figured out how it works.

Don’t forget to Eject before Unplugging

When you’re finished transferring data to your USB drive, remember to eject the device inside macOS before physically disconnecting it to avoid data loss. Select your USB flash drive in Finder and then choose File > Eject from the menu bar. Alternatively, in the Finder sidebar, click the little eject button next to the flash drive’s name.

And that’s it! Have dun copying!

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Mabuhay Manila, Edmar Consular here! I studied Adobe Photoshop Short Courses in addition to my academic career in Automotive Technology. Here at Manila Shaker, I'm the Junior Editor in charge of writing article reviews, tech news, and video scripts.

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