How do I eject a USB disk drive?
Not to sound like a complete chowderhead, but when I have a USB disk drive hooked up to my Mac and then unplug it, I always get a scary warning. How do I avoid that and eject the drive properly before unplugging it?
First off, repeat after me "just because it's the computer for the rest of us doesn't mean that it always makes sense". That can be your mantra for this particular adventure. :-)
Actually I have always found the disk eject mechanism in Mac OS X to be rather confusing, whether it's a DVD or CD disk, digital camera, or USB drive. Given the common visual metaphor of a tiny "x" circle on the top left of icons to delete the particular item. See Dashboard widgets, for example, or Apple's iPhone icons.
I can't fix the operating system, however, so instead I'll simply explain how you're supposed to eject the drive rather than just yank that baby outta the USB port. Oh, and why is it a problem? Because the operating system keeps a "cache", an image or copy of a portion of the drive's data in computer memory and writes it to disk (this is called "syncing") every so often, not instantly. Unplug it just before one of these sync events and the data on the drive could theoretically be out of date and incorrect.
So here's the dialog box you must be seeing when you pull your USB drive:
You can actually read the dialog box and follow it, but there are two easier ways to eject a USB device or drive in Mac OS X that'll make your life quite a bit easier.
Option one is to drag the device to the trashcan. Yes, don't panic, it's not indicating that you want the Mac operating system to reformat the device or wipe it clean, but rather the trashcan switches to a weird triangle icon instead, as you can see here when I drag my Corsair drive:
That's how I remove devices on my own Mac systems, since it's so darn easy, even if it's a bit confusing to people who haven't tried it before.
Option two, however, is a bit more logical if you're still jumpy about dragging your device to the trash. Ctrl-click on the device icon instead, and check out the options that appear:
As highlighted, you want to choose "Eject" and you're done.
Either way, these both give you easy options to eject any sort of USB disk drive, digital camera, personal media player, or similar.
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