4 Easy Ways to Recover Data from Dead Mac Hard Drive

by Anna Sherry   Updated on 2023-01-04 / Update for  Mac Data

"My MBP crashed almost a year ago, I opened it one morning to find it wouldn't turn on. I really need the stuff that was on it. Any tips for recovering data from dead Mac?"

If the hard drive of your Mac has crashed, you have likely lost all data stored in it. In a data loss situation like this, the first thing you will want to do is find ways to recover files from dead Mac hard drive. Recovering files from a dead drive is quite a task as it involves doing stuff that you may have never done before. But if the files that you stored on the drive were important, you need to take the steps to get them back on your Mac.

In the following guide, you are going to learn how to recover data from dead MacBook Pro using 4 different ways. Both the ways described in the guide use different techniques to help you find and restore your deleted files on your Mac. So, if you are ready to recover your data, the following is how you do it.

Recover Data from Crashed or Unbootable Mac in 3 MINUTES!!! [2023 New]

Way 1. The Easiest Way to Recover Data from Dead Mac Hard Drive

Instead of going through dozens of stuffs to get files off dead Mac, you can use a professional MacBook pro hard drive failure recovery software like Tenorshare 4DDiG for Mac Data Recovery to recover data from a crashed, failed, corrupted, or damaged Mac hard drive without any efforts.

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  • Download and install Tenorshare 4DDiG for Mac on a working Mac computer.
  • Insert a blank USB drive into your Mac. Run the program and select Recover Data from Crashed System.

    how to recover data from dead macbook pro
  • Tenorshare 4DdiG for Mac will format your USB drive and create a bootable drive for your Mac. You will see the following when your drive is ready.

    recover data from dead mac hard drive
  • Insert your drive into your dead Mac, boot-up the Mac and hold down Option, choose your drive, and your Mac will boot from it. Select the files you want to recover and click on Export.

    how to recover data from dead macbook air

Way 2. Turn Your Dead Mac Hard Drive into an External Hard Drive and Recover Data

Since the hard drive on your Mac has died, you probably can't boot-up your Mac as there are no system files for your Mac to boot-up from. In this situation, what you can do is you can remove the dead hard drive from your Mac, put it into an external drive enclosure, and then use another machine to recover files from the drive.

If that sounds confusing to you, the following steps will break down the entire procedure into small steps for you to follow. Just follow the steps given below and you should be able to recover data from dead MacBook.

  • Remove the dead hard drive from your Mac using the official instructions. The manufacturer website will have steps on how you can remove a hard drive from your Mac.
  • Once the dead hard drive has been removed from your Mac, put it into an external drive enclosure.
  • Connect the external drive to a working Mac using a suitable cable.
  • On Windows PC: Open the Windows File Explorer, double-click to check the hard drive data.
  • On Mac: Double-click the disk icon on the desktop and check if you can access the hard drive and its data.

If you can access your Mac hard drive, then you can select the files you want and save them on your chosen location.

Way 3. Create a macOS Bootable USB disk and Recover Data from Dead MacBook

If you would like to recover data on the same Mac where you lost your data, you can create a bootable USB drive of macOS and use it to boot-up your dead Mac. Then, you can use a data recovery software to recover your data. The following shows how you can go about doing it on your machine.

  • On your secondary Mac machine, download the macOS Installer from the App Store.
  • Plug-in a compatible USB drive to your Mac. This will become the bootable USB media for macOS.
  • Launch the Terminal app on your Mac by clicking on Launchpad and searching for and clicking on Terminal.

    launch terminal
  • When the Terminal app launches, type in one of the following commands to create a bootable macOS USB drive. Make sure to use the command that is for your version of macOS.


    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume


    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

    High Sierra:

    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume


    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app

    El Capitan:

    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app

    create bootable macos
  • Your bootable USB drive should now be ready. Plug it in to your dead Mac and boot your Mac from the bootable USB drive.
  • When the Mac boots-up successfully, you can copy the files you want and save them to a safe place.

You should have successfully recovered lost files from your dead hard drive on your Mac.

Way 4. Using Target Disk Mode to Recover Data from Dead/Crashed Mac

If you have two Mac computers, you can use Target Disk Mode to transfer data from your dead Mac to the working Mac computer. But you need to be noted that you must use either Thunderbolt or Firewire cable to do the task and FileVault must be disabled on your Mac (FileVault encryption is enabled by default on Mac). The following is how you recover data from dead Macbook Air using Target Disk Mode:

  • Connect both of your Macs using either Thunderbolt or Firewire.
  • Turn on your dead Mac while holding down the T button.
  • When the computer starts, your dead Mac’s storage will appear as a drive on your working Mac. Copy all the files from that drive to your working machine.

    recover data from broken macbook

Your data should be recovered. This is how to recover data from a dead Mac using Target Disk Mode.


If your Mac hard drive ever crashes or dies, our guide above should teach you how to recover data from dead Mac so you know how you can get your lost files back on your machine. Tenorshare 4DDiG for Mac Data Recovery is highly recommended to recover data from broken MacBook since it has helped a lot users with MacBook pro hard drive failure data recovery. We hope it helps you out.