USB Flash Drives, U3, and Macs

Posted by Aaron West at 10:25 AM in General, Mac

I bought a SanDisk Cruzer Micro 2GB Flash drive last week and was dismayed when plugging it in to my Powerbook. Not only was the Flash drive mounted as a new disk in OS X, but a CD drive called "U3" was also mounted. The U3 drive consisted of Windows only software called LaunchPad that installs the U3 system on a Windows computer. The U3 platform allows users to take their applications and data with them on the road. Through the U3 system and a U3-enabled Flash drive you can store applications and run them without the need for a computer. However, this technology does not currently work on OS X. Furthermore, to correctly eject a U3-enabled Flash drive on OS X you have to eject the U3 CD in addition to the Flash drive itself. To make matters worse, the U3 CD does not always show as a mounted CD in the Finder. In all my test I had to launch OS X's built-in Disk Utility, and eject the U3 CD from there. It's a major pain to say the least so I began trying ditch the U3 system on the Flash drive.

After many attempts at formatting the Cruzer I was not able to get rid of the U3 partition using OS X. However, using the U3 software itself on a Windows computer, you can run a U3 uninstaller that will effectively get rid of the read-only partition for you. This turns a U3-enabled Flash drive into a regular Flash drive eliminating all the headaches when using it with a Mac. It's a bit of pain to have to use a Windows box in order to get your Flash drive functioning like you want with OS X, but it's certainly worth the effort. So, for now, either stay away from U3-enabled Flash drives (which are clearly marked as such on the packaging) or find a friend with a Windows box, plugin the Flash drive, access the U3 software, and run the uninstaller.

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This entry was posted by Aaron West on October 10, 2006 at 10:25 AM. It was filed in the following categories: General, Mac. It has been viewed 10885 times and has 8 comments.

8 Responses to USB Flash Drives, U3, and Macs

  1. J44

    Thanks for the useful info
    Just got the same flash dr.. same issues.

  2. You just saved me a lot of time. Thank you very much!

  3. LB

    Thanks for the write-up. You saved me alot of time. I think i'll check your blog from now on.

    - Cheers!

  4. Steve

    Does anyone know how to access saved files on a U3 system on macs? The F drive that i use for PC's is not showing up on the Mac's that i use.

  5. From my experience, files saved on a USB drive that still has the U3 system intact ARE visible when plugged into a Mac. However, these were files that were manually copied to the flash drive. If the U3 software was used to add contents to the flash drive (from a PC) I would imagine them to not be visible when the drive is plugged into a Mac.

  6. Stephen

    I'm not sure if this was available when you wrote this, but there are uninstall utilities available - alas only for windows. As I am on a mac, I will have to run it through vmware or boot camp but at least it is possible!


  7. jack

    do you have a password set because that's what was wrong with mine or too many disk removals without ejecting

  8. Charlotte

    thank you for sharing this very informative and useful post. hope to hear more from you and please keep on posting.