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Moving Files Across Computers

There are several ways to transfer files between a lab machine and a Student MacBook Pro. 

For small files such as text documents, the easiest way might be to email the file to yourself as an attachment. Simply open your email on the computer where the file in question is currently located. Compose a new email addressed to yourself and add the file as an attachment. Send it off. Open your email on the computer you want the file to be moved to and download the attached file from the received email.

For larger files, you have several options, including using a portable USB drive, using the various MCAD servers such as your personal network storage space or Network Temp Storage, using Google Drive, or mounting the laptop as an external drive. The following instructions outline the steps for the later.

  1. If you do not have one at hand, check out the appropriate FireWire cable for your laptop from the Media Center.
  2. Take this cable and your MacBook Pro to the lab computer where the files you would like to transfer are currently located.
  3. Shut down your MacBook Pro if it is currently powered on.
  4. Plug one end of the FireWire cable to the MacBook and the other to the lab computer.
  5. Turn on the lab computer and log in.
  6. Power on the MacBook Pro and immediately press and hold down the T key (on the MacBook Pro) until the FireWire icon appears. The hard disks of the MacBook Pro should become available to the lab computer as icons on the desktop.
  7. Copy the files back and forth between computer drives as needed.
  8. When you are finished copying files, drag the MacBook Pro's hard disk icons to the Trash.
  9. Press the MacBook Pro's power button to turn it off.
  10. Disconnect the USB cable.

I just bought an external drive (Thunderbolt or USB). How should I format it to work optimally in the MCAD labs?

Mac OS X

Your external drive needs to be formatted to the Mac OS Extended format to work optimally in the labs and advanced studios at MCAD.

If you own your own Apple computer you are able to format it yourself using the Disk Utility application (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility). Online instructions can be found here.

Due to the enhanced security within Mac OS X, lab users do not have the ability to access hard drives on a low enough level to format them. If you have a new drive or need your old drive formatted, please bring it to the Help Desk in room 321 during normal business hours and one of the Help Desk staffers will be able to assist you.


If you are planning on using this drive on a Macintosh as well as a Windows computer, follow the steps above to format your FireWire/USB drive as Mac OS Extended. We suggest you then purchase a software package for your PC called MacDrive [], from MediaFour. MacDrive will allow your Windows computer to read and write Macintosh-formatted disks. MediaFour does offer academic pricing on MacDrive if you buy it from their online store, otherwise you can find it at Microcenter.

Here is some more info on how drive formatting works and why we recommend MacDrive:

In order for a computer to use a hard drive, it has to have a standard method of organizing space on the disk so it knows where to write files and how to look for them again. The computer uses something called a File System to do this.

There are two file system formats that the Mac OS uses to organize the disk: Mac OS Standard and Mac OS extended, (also called HFS and HFS+, respectively). Mac OS Extended (HFS+) is the only one that you should use these days, as it supports a number of improvements over HFS. On a windows computer, there are two formats that you need to know about: FAT32 and NTFS. FAT32 stands for File Allocation Table 32-bit, and is the standard format of Windows 98 and ME. NTFS stands for NT File System and is the standard format of Windows 2000 and XP. NTFS is by far the superior of the two formats.

When you save a file on a Macintosh, there are two parts of the file saved: a resource fork and a data fork. A data fork is the actual meat of the file, the pixel and layer information in a Photoshop file, the actual words in a word file, etc. The resource fork is also referred to as meta-data, or data about the data. This means it stores information such as what application to use to edit that file, what icon the file has, the date it was created, what version it is, etc. Windows machines do not save resource forks or meta data in this manner. Rather, windows machines use filename extensions to know what application to launch when you click a file. Examples of filename extensions are .doc (Word document), .psd (Photoshop file), .ai (Illustrator file) and so forth.

The Mac OS does offer some rudimentary support for the Windows FAT32 file system. If you plug in a FAT32 formatted disk into a Mac, you will be able to use it and save files to it, even keeping some of the resource fork data. What the Mac is doing, though, is storing that resource fork meta-data in hidden folders on the Drive. If you were to take that drive and plug it back into a PC and try to use it, you would be able to see all the resource fork data, giving you the ability to delete it, which is a bad thing. In experience, it is recommended that you do not use FAT32 on your FireWire to enable switching between a PC and a Mac. We see a fairly high rate of file system corruption when people do this, which of course, is a bad thing. This is why we recommend you use MacDrive.

For more information about File Systems and the PC and the Mac, try these sites:

Understanding File Systems []

Porting Files Across Platforms []

Network Temp Storage

The Network Temp Storage server is a server partition available to all MCAD students, faculty, and staff for the temporary transportation of files from one lab to another. You must be at MCAD and using MCAD's network to connect to this server. It is not possible to connect via FTP from offsite.

While appropriate for moving files, it is not a secure place to store files for extended periods of time, as anyone can access or trash materials stored there. Removable media (such as FireWire drives, USB drives) or your secure Studio server are preferred ways to save and archive your work files.

Furthermore, files stored on the Network Temp Storage server for more than 7 days are automatically deleted with no chance of recovery.

Connecting to Network Temp Storage:

  1. From the Finder, pull down Go > Connect to Server [View screenshot]. The Connect to Server window appears.
  2. From the Favorite Servers list, choose
  3. If you do not see from the list of Favorite Servers, enter the following under Server Address: Temp Storage 
  4. Click the Connect button
  5. After the Connect to Server window appears. Enter your MCAD Username and Password then click Connect


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