How to Speed UP USB Transfer/Copying Files on Mac

Home > HowTos > Troubleshooting Tips Updated by William on May 11, 2024 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

To transfer files between devices, a USB drive is an excellent option. However, are you experiencing USB transfer file delays on your Mac? It's incredibly frustrating when the transfer takes much longer than expected, and you're stuck staring at the progress bar, waiting to be done. If you're going to solve a problem like this, then you need a way to speed up flash drive transfer or copy files on Mac. This post will show 6 effective solutions to fix Mac USB transfer very slowly.

Quick Navigation
Part1. Why is My Flash Drive So Slow on Mac?
Part2. 6 Ways to Speed Up USB Transfer on Mac
Part3. How to Recover USB Flash Drive Files after Format/Delete on Mac
Part4. Frequently Asked Questions

Why is My Flash Drive So Slow on Mac?

Copying files from a Mac to a USB drive is often a tedious process, especially when the speed is languid. There are many reasons for this problem, such as:

Regardless of the reason, you can do the following methods to speed up file transfers to external hard drive or USB drive on Mac.

How to Speed Up USB Transfer on Mac

If you find that files are transferring sluggishly from your USB drive onto your Mac computer, you may be frustrated. Fortunately, there are a few ways to speed up the process so you can get back to using your data as quickly as possible.

Ways 1. Disable Low Power Mode

You plug in your USB, and it should be quick and easy to transfer files, yet you may find it takes a long time when using a Mac. This is likely due to Mac's default settings for extended power management. The system puts the USB port in a low power mode, so transfer speeds slow down significantly. To fix this, you can change the settings by going into Battery and disabling the setting.

  1. Click the "Apple" icon in the upper left corner of the screen and navigate to "System Preferences" > "Battery."
  2. Click "Battery" in the options on the left, and then cancel "Low Power Mode" in the panel on the right.

Doing this ensures that the USB port stays active during data transfers, allowing you to get your files faster!

Ways 2. Change adapter to USB 3.0 compatible adapter

USB slow transfer speed Mac causes delays in transferring data to a USB drive. One of the reasons could be that you are using a pen drive that is USB 2.0. The drive has a maximum reading capacity of 35Mb per second. Even if you are using a USB 3.0 port on your Mac, the transfer speed will be slow due to this reason. You can only enhance the speed by changing the pen drive. You can get the latest USB 3.0 pen drive.

Ways 3. Turn Off Spotlighting for the USB Flash Drive

The other reason for the Mac USB transfer very slow observation is due to the Spotlight feature present in the Mac OS. A spotlight is an indexing tool that helps the OS to search for information. It figures out where everything is and enables you to find anything easily. However, it also consumes the performance of its flash drive. So, you can increase the transfer speed on your USB drive by disabling the Spotlight. Follow the steps:

  1. Open "System Preferences" and select "Spotlight."
  2. From the window, click the "Privacy" tab.
  3. Click the "+" sign at the bottom to add your USB drive. The next time you plug your pen drive, Spotlight will ignore the storage device, and you can transfer at an increased speed.
  4. Reinsert your drive, the "Spotlight" will ignore the storage device and speed up USB transfer on Mac.

Ways 4. Repair the file system of the USB drive

As the drive age increases, bad sectors or logical errors may appear, affecting its read, write, and transfer speeds. Usually, you can use Disk Utility to speed up USB transfer/copying Files on Mac. The specific steps are as follows:

  1. Go to "Applications" > "Utilities" > "Disk Utility."
  2. Select your external drive on the left and click "First Aid" at the top of the window.
  3. Click "Run" in the popup and check and fix volume errors.

Ways 5. Convert the USB File System to APFS

The slow transfer to USB Mac could be due to the file system. If your drive is FAT/exFAT, then macOS will take more time to read it. You can convert it to APFS, a Mac-exclusive file system that will make your USB drive or external hard disk play maximum performance. However, it will not be recognized by Windows PC after doing so. If your drive sometimes needs to work on other systems, try other methods to fix copying to USB on Mac quickly.

NOTE: Converting the file system will erase all data stored on the flash drive. So please transfer them to another location before starting.

  1. Connect the USB drive to your Mac and open the "Disk Utility."
  2. Select your drive from the list on the left, and click "Partition" In the top menu.
  3. Now, select "APFS" in the Format option and set the size to the capacity of your drive.
  4. Click "Decide Later" to start the progress of converting the file system.
  5. After waiting for a while, click the "Done" key to fix the USB transfer slow on Mac.

Ways 6. Format a Flash Drive for the Defragmentation

When the USB drive repeatedly deletes and saves data during long-term use, disk fragmentation may occur, slowing down the Mac accessing data. For this, you can erase it to speed up file transfer to external hard drive on Mac. This process will also delete all items, so please make a backup.

  1. Head to the "Utilities" window and launch "Terminal."
  2. Type "diskutil list." It will provide all the disks connected to the Mac.
  3. Type "diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 MBRFormat /dev/disk*" (*is the letter assigned to the flash drive).
  4. Hit "return" and start the erasing process.

These solutions can significantly reduce the time spent waiting for USB transfer, bringing peace of mind and calmness until the job is done!

How to Recover USB Flash Drive Files after Format/Delete on Mac

If you forget to back up or omit important data while speeding up file transfer to an external hard drive on a Mac, it will cause them to disappear. Don't worry; you can also use iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac to get them back.

The free USB recovery software uses the latest technologies and algorithms to retrieve content without damaging the drive. It gives you a straightforward solution to undelete USB or recover files from formatted flash drive in a few simple steps.

  1. Connect your USB drive to the Mac.
  2. Download and Install the undelete and unformat USB tool.
  3. By default, it will restore all file types. if you wish to get back crucial office documents, then unselect other. You can then continue by clicking the "Start" button.
  4. In the next window, select your flash drive and click the "Scan" button.
  5. Choose all the files that you need and click "Recover" to save them.

If not fully retrieve lost items. you can use the "Deep Scan" mode. iBeesoft Mac data recovery software will scan sector-by-sector and get more files.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many Mac users have experienced slow USB transfers. It's a frustrating problem, but there are steps you can take to troubleshoot and hopefully solve the issue. While certain hardware incompatibilities may cause transfer speeds to be limited, often, the cause of slower-than-expected data transfers can be attributed to settings or misconfigured options. Below are frequently asked questions about Mac USB Transfer Very Slow, hope they are helpful for you.


Mac Slow USB transfer has always been a pain point for most users, especially when transferring large files. Fortunately, you can improve transfer speeds by doing the above methods. But, do not forget to create a backup before you pick the format or convert file system option. When files are lost, try iBeesoft Data Recovery to recover deleted files from USB Drive on Mac free.