Reading/Mounting an ext2/3/4 storage device on a Mac is currently very difficult. There are no free, reliable plug-and-play solutions out there at the moment, and the available free solutions will only work best for you based on the Internet connection, peripheral devices etc that you have available. So here are the top 5 ways to read or mount an ext2/3/4 storage device, or a partition on that device, on your Mac. (And yes, it is written as ext, not EXT.)
5. Use a Linux computer and a flash drive
Connect the ext device to a Linux computer or a Windows system that can read ext. Afterwards, copy your desired files to an NTFS/FAT32 thumb drive (or flash drive) and transfer that drive to your Mac. This option can help you get the job done relatively fast, but will probably be tedious because it requires a second, non-Mac computer and involves quite a bit of plugging, unplugging and moving things around.
4. Send your files over Bluetooth
Connect the ext device to a Linux computer or a Windows computer that can read ext2/3/4. Then connect/pair that computer through Bluetooth with your Mac and transfer your desired files. This option is relatively easy and doesn’t involve a lot of steps. However, it’s not the best option when you want to transfer files that are more than 3 gigabytes in size. The options below are better suited to that.
3. Connect your Mac to another computer over LAN or an Ethernet cable
This option is basically the same as the one above except that instead of using Bluetooth to copy your files, you copy the files over your local Wi-Fi/WLAN or an Ethernet cable. Here are the things to do:
- Find a Linux machine or a Windows PC that can read ext2/3/4.
- You may follow this tutorial if you need to connect a Mac and a Linux/Windows machine using an Ethernet cable.
- To connect a Mac to a Windows PC for file sharing over Wi-Fi/WLAN, you may follow this tutorial.
- Connect your ext device to the Linux or Windows PC.
- Connect both your Mac and the Linux/Windows over your Wi-Fi or using an Ethernet cable.
- Copy the files you want and disconnect the two computers afterwards.
A key advantage of this option over most of the others is that you will be able to quickly and easily transfer large files (larger than 10 gigabytes). However, please be careful when sharing files over Wi-Fi with a computer that is not yours. Once you are done, delete all the File Sharing options that you set up for that computer so that you don’t unknowingly give someone else future access to the folders you shared.
2. Copy your files to an NTFS/FAT32 partition on the same device
Now, let’s assume that you don’t have a flash drive and find it too difficult/time-consuming to share the files over Wi-Fi/Bluetooth. Or maybe you have all the above but just want a faster, more convenient option. Luckily, there is one and it is to copy your desired files from the ext partition to an NTFS/FAT32 partition on the same storage device. If the storage device doesn’t have an NTFS/FAT32 partition, create one and make sure it is large enough to contain the files you want to copy. After copying those files to the NTFS/FAT32 partition, connect the storage device to your Mac and the NTFS/FAT32 partition should be automatically mounted, ready for you to use.
1. Mount the ext partition on your Mac using free software
1. You can use free and open-source software to mount your ext2/3/4 device on your Mac and then read/access all the files you want. I have already written an easy tutorial about this before, and you can find it here. This is the easiest option as it involves the least number of moving parts/devices and once you do it, you can use the set up to read ext2/3/4 partitions over and over again. However, note that you should only use this option to read from, not make changes to, your device. Furthermore, the biggest challenge you will have will be to enter a command in the terminal each time you want to mount a device. (PRO TIP: you can create a custom script/alias on your Mac to simplify the command you have to use to mount a device.)
So thanks for reading and using the instructions in this article! Which one did you find easiest to understand and use? Let me know in the comments section below. And if you run into any problems or need further help, tell me about it in the comments section too!