Q. My old MacBook Pro is dead. How can I run its internal drive with OS X 10.11 as an external drive?

A. First, what year and model of MacBook Pro is it?

If it is a 2012 or older, it is simple, because it is a 2.5 inch SATA drive. You’ll remove the hard drive and put the drive into an external 2.5 inch SATA to USB 3.0 case.

Seagate 2.5 inch SATA hard drive

Open the bottom case of the machine with a Philips #00 screwdriver, and remove the hard drive. Be careful you don’t rip the thin black SATA ribbon cable as you unplug the drive.

Then you will need to remove the Torx T6-bit four studs on the sides of the drive before installing in the USB enclosure. Keep these studs with the machine.

External 2.5 inch USB drive enclosure

You will then be able to read the drive on another Mac (but not a Windows PC, unless you install some additional software to read the Apple drive format).

If you have a Late 2012 or later Retina MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or MacBook machine, you have a proprietary Apple SSD blade and not a hard drive.

One of several different proprietary Apple SSD formats (not compatible with M.2).

Consult with CanadaRAM.com to choose the correct external OWC Envoy or Envoy Pro USB enclosure to fit your machine’s particular drive. Pay attention to the details, as the drive specifications changed year to year and model to model.

OWC Envoy enclosure and SSD
One of several different designs of OWC Envoy external USB enclosure for Apple SSDs

If the MacBook Pro machine were running, you could put it into Target Disk Mode https://support.apple.com/en-ca/guide/mac-help/mchlp1443/mac by holding down the T key through startup. This allows you to connect to the machine from another Mac and access the hard drive as an external drive. But this requires successful booting to at least the firmware to do this, so it won’t work if the machine doesn’t power on.

Q&A is a compilation of questions that we have answered around the Web

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