How to Access a USB Drive While in Mac Single User Mode

So you are unable to access USB drive in Mac single user mode. Well, this article explains how you can fix this problem. However, make sure you are an experienced Unix administrator. Be careful with the steps as you will be logged in as the root user.

Here are the steps to resolve the issue:


Don’t plug in the USB drive. Boot the system into single –user mode; you’ll be logged in as root. Now run these commands.

fsck -fy

mount -uw /

The fsck command will take a while to run. The mount command is required as your hard drive is mounted as read-only, by default.

Now run this command – ls /dev/disk*

This shows which disk devices are present in the system. Now, plug in your USB drive. After some time, you will see some message on the screen. So now you can run this command – ls /dev/disk* again and you can see new device files.

If you can see new files, then good. So now, assuming that the USB drive is formatted as Windows / DOS file system, follow the steps to mount the device:

mkdir /Volumes/usb

mount_msdos /dev/disk1s1 /Volumes/usb

If your USB drive is formatted differently, then use another mount command. Once done, you must be able to see the new file system with df command: df

Next you have to create the mount point:

mkdir /Volumes/usb

followed by this command:

mount_msdos /dev/disk1s1 /Volumes/usb

After all this, you can copy all the required files to the /Volumes/usb directory (which is the file system on the USB device). Now you can unmount the USB drive:

umount /dev/disk1s1

Once the /Volumes/usb doesn’t show up in the output of the df command, you can remove the USB device.

Finally, to shut down your Mac system, you need to unload the plist files:

launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.*

Now you can type exit if you have to shut down.

Note: If you have to recover formatted USB drive data on Mac, then you can make use of this Mac Data Recovery software, which will easily get back files from the USB drive. Not only this, even when the USB drive is corrupted, or inaccessible, you can recover data. The tool also supports formatted external hard drive recovery on Mac system. Deleted and lost files on Mac can be retrieved in just a short while.

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