10 Replies Latest reply: Jun 2, 2015 4:04 PM by fastasleep
razmara Level 1 (0 points)

I have a new 13" MB Pro retina and want to use the thunderbolt bridge btween the 13" and the 15" MB pro 2011.

Somehow I cannot do anything with this, and on both laptops it shows the the Thunderbolt slots as "Inactive". I have connected the the two laptops via the new Thunderbolt cable.


I looked around and there is no documentation on how to make this happen. The documentations are very thin or non existent.


I want to use this mechanism to transfer my data from my old MB pro to the new retina one.


your help is greatly appreciated.



MacBook Pro (15-inch Early 2011), OS X Mavericks (10.9)
  • mende1 Level 10 (92,156 points)

    Welcome to Apple Support Communities


    To connect two MacBooks Pro and transfer files by Thunderbolt, you need to put one of them in Target Disk mode. To start up in Target Disk mode, hold the T key while your MacBook Pro is starting up until you see the Thunderbolt icon on the display.


    In your case, you need to put your old MacBook Pro in Target Disk mode. This mode will convert the MacBook Pro's hard drive onto an external drive, so you can access to it from Finder on the MacBook Pro with Retina display and restore all the files you need with Migration Assistant > http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4413

  • razmara Level 1 (0 points)

    unfortunately the option to select thunderbolt/firewire never comes up.


    It directly goes to the options from where to transfer and then upcon clicking on it. It keeps on looking with the spinner icon showing and it never finds the other computer.


    It does see it through the wiresless but not through thunderbolt.


    The more I look to make this happen the more I am convinved that this feature is not fully baked and does not really work as the documentation on "Thunderbolt bridge" setup is next to none existent and only one perons through macrumors has supposedly managed this. It is really a shame as I was looking forward to use this new capability.


    All the best,

  • bheindel Level 1 (0 points)

    I would check 2 things.  Make sure your old MacBook Pro is Thunderbolt. If it has a thunderbolt next to the port it is, however, it it is just a square (like a display) it is not.  Second thing, when using the migration assistant, you will need to select "From another disk or Time Machine Back Up". If you say from another Mac, it looks only on the network for another Mac. Hope this helps.

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,466 points)

    If you really want to use ThunderBolt Target Disk Mode, you will need to Restart the computer with the files in Target Disk Mode. This cannot be done on a Mac with Mac OS X active -- the restart is required:


    OS X Mountain Lion: Transfer files between two computers using target disk mode



  • Doug_Brown Level 1 (0 points)

    About connecting with Thunderbolt Bridge (not Target Disk mode) see the article by Iljitsch van Beijnum on Ars Technica:


    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2013/10/os-x-10-9-brings-fast-but-choppy-thunderbol t-networking/


    Apparently you have to do some setup in the Network pref pane.

  • fastasleep Level 1 (10 points)

    I just did a Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt Migration Assistant transfer from one rMBP to another without setting anything up, and it worked just fine (and pretty quickly at that). There's no reason to set up Thunderbolt Bridge when doing Migration Assistant, just Target Disk mode.

  • swinny50 Level 1 (0 points)

    can anyone actually explain how to transfer file with a thunderbolt cable without assuming you know what  or where to find  things like target disk or  migration assistant?

  • swinny50 Level 1 (0 points)

    the apple store said it is simple , just plug it in and transfer files!


    so why doesn't it work? great scam i say for a £35 cable that does not do anything!

  • axeros Level 1 (90 points)

    It is indeed possible to connect two Macs via Thunderbolt  without using the Migration Assistant or Target Disk Mode.

    I'm doing it right now, between a Mac Mini and a MacBook Pro, both running Yosemite.

    This is called a Thunderbolt bridge.

    Steps to make this work:-


    - Disable WiFi on each of the Macs, and disconnect Ethernet on at least one of the Macs, if you want to be sure it's Thunderbolt that's being used.

    - Physically connect the two Macs via a Thunderbolt cable.

    - On Mac 1:

         - System Preferences->Network

                   - You should see Thunderbolt Bridge on the list of interfaces, with Self-Assigned IP and an amber/yellow status

                   - Change the Configure IPv4: field from DHCP with manual address to Manually

                   - Change IP Address: e.g. I use              

    - On Mac 2:

         - System Preferences->Network

                   - You should see Thunderbolt Bridge on the list of interfaces, with Self-Assigned IP and an amber/yellow status

                   - Change the Configure IPv4: field from DHCP with manual address to Manually

                   - Change IP Address: e.g. I use         

    - The Thunderbolt bridge status will still show an Amber/Yellow on both Macs

    - On Mac 2:

         - In Finder select Go, Connect to Server

              - type in the IP address of Mac 1: i.e.

              - You should now be connected to Mac 1 ...

  • fastasleep Level 1 (10 points)

    Target Disk Mode - start up the machine to transfer files from while holding the 'T' key. Alternately go to System Preferences > Startup Disk > Target Disk Mode.


    OS X Yosemite: Transfer files between two computers using target disk mode


    Migration Assistant is in Applications > Utilities. A variation of this runs as part of Setup Assistant when you first set up your Mac and it asks if you'd like to set up a new account or transfer from another Mac or hard drive. You can use Migration Assistant at any later point to transfer over an entire user account from your other Mac (which you've booted in Target Disk Mode and connected to your new Mac via Thunderbolt.


    It does work, and it is simple, you just need to follow the simple instructions that are easily found online ... or ask nicely. Don't assume everything is a scam because you can't figure it out.


    Move your content to a new Mac - Apple Support