Instead of using Target Disk Mode, there is another way to quickly transfer files between two MacBook Pro machines using Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt networking provides a peer-to-peer connection at 10 GbE speeds for super fast local transfers. In the following brief step-by-step tutorial, we’ll show you how.
Step 1: Connect both Thunderbolt 3-enabled Macs together with a Thunderbolt 3 cable.
Step 2: Open System Preferences → Network on the Mac you wish to connect to, and you should see a Thunderbolt Bridge with a Self-Assigned IP. If you don’t see the Thunderbolt Bridge, simply click the + button to add one, and note the IP address.
Step 3: Ensure that the Thunderbolt Bridge is enabled on the second Mac that you’re connecting from.
Step 4: On the Mac that you’re connecting to, open System Preferences → Sharing, and enable File Sharing.
Step 5: On the Mac that you’re connecting from, open Finder → Go → Connect to Server.
Step 6: In the Server Address box, type the IP that you noted in Step 2, and click Connect.
Step 7: On the dialogue box that appears, enter your login credentials for the machine that you wish to connect to and click Connect.
Step 8: Select the volumes that you wish to mount and click OK.
Step 9: Once connected, the volumes that you selected will show up as shared drives. You can now utilize Thunderbolt 3 to transfer files between both machines much faster than using something like AirDrop.
Step 10: Once finished, eject the drive and disconnect the Thunderbolt cable.
If you’d prefer not to fool with network settings, you can use Target Disk Mode along with a Thunderbolt 3 cable to transfer files quickly between two MacBook Pros. I personally prefer to use the Thunderbolt Bridge method, because it allows me to keep both machines booted into macOS while performing the file transfer.