Working with Flash Drives

When using OS X flash drives can be connected and used to transfer files. Learn the steps to take to ensure you're doing it correctly.

What is a flash drive?

picture of a flash drive

A flash drive is a small, removable hard drive that plugs into a USB port on your computer. You can purchase a flash drive for less than $20 at just about any retail store with an electronics department, and even at some grocery stores and pharmacies. Flash drives are a convenient way to bring your files with you and open them on a different computer. You could also use a flash drive to back up important documents and other files. In this lesson, we'll show you how to use a flash drive with your computer.

To connect a flash drive:

  1. Insert the flash drive into a USB port on your computer. You should find a USB port on the front, back, or side of your computer (the location may vary depending on whether you have a desktop or a laptop).
  2. Open Finder and locate and select the flash drive from the Sidebar on the left side of the window. Note that the name of the flash drive may vary. You may also see the flash drive on the desktop. If so, double-click it to open the flash drive in a new Finder window.
    screenshot of OS X

If you don't see the flash drive on the desktop, go to Finderright-arrowPreferences (you may have to click the desktop first to switch to Finder). Next, make sure the External disks option is checked on the General tab.

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Working with a flash drive:

Once you've connected a flash drive, you can work with it just like any other folder on your computer, including moving and deleting files.

  1. If you want to copy a file from your computer to the flash drive, click and drag the file from your computer to this window.
    screenshot of OS X
  2. The file will be duplicated, and the new version will be saved to the flash drive. The original version of the file will still be saved to your computer.
    screenshot of OS X
  3. If you want to copy a file from your flash drive to your computer, click and drag the file from the window to your computer.
    screenshot of OS X
  4. If you want to remove a file from your flash drive, click and drag the file to the Trash, then click and hold the Trash icon and select Empty Trash to permanently delete the file.
    screenshot of OS X

To safely remove a flash drive:

When you're done using a flash drive, don't remove it from the USB port just yet! You'll need to make sure to disconnect it properly to avoid damaging files on the drive.

  1. In Finder, click the Eject button next to the flash drive. Alternatively, you can right-click the flash drive and select Eject.
    screenshot of OS X
  2. You can now safely remove the flash drive from the USB port.