I want to transfer large files (15 GB total) to the home directory of the Raspberry Pi for processing on the Pi. When I connect the SD card to the computer (macOS), I see a volume boot where the only directory is overlays. A find returns no matches:

$ find /Volumes/boot -name home
$ find /Volumes/boot -name pi

Can I transfer files to the SD card running Raspbian before startup on the Rasbperry Pi?

  • 1
    Yes, you can, but you need to have support for ext4 filesystem on your laptop. Take a look here.
    – jake
    Aug 12, 2019 at 11:27
  • Hi @jake, I copy files between Win10 PC and Rpi home directory many times a day. My quick and dirty way is to copy files from Win10 to an USB stick, then from the USB stick to Rpi's home directory, using Rpi GUI Desktop. This way you can also have a backup copy in the USB stick. In other words, you don't need to squeeze big files from Win/Mac to the very small SD card's boot partition. PS - I am assuming you are like me, a stupid newbie, not knowing what is "overlay" and "ext4".
    – tlfong01
    Aug 12, 2019 at 13:25
  • @tlfong01 Sure to address me? I don't use Windows or MacOS. I do know what ext4 is...
    – jake
    Aug 12, 2019 at 13:32
  • Hi @Jake, sorry to have confused you. Me confused too. Your question mentions MacOS, so I wrongly thought the original 15GB big files are from a Mac. If the big files are in a linux machine (or files copied there), then you can see two partitions in the SD card (newbie's guess), and you can copy big files to the big partition. Apologies if more confusion caused! :)
    – tlfong01
    Aug 12, 2019 at 13:44
  • @jake I saw your link, thanks. For reference, it recommends against mounting ext4 as read/write on macOS: "I have not found a stable, reliable and free way to do this. Even the paid software I read about that claim to be able to do this are buggy and have been reported to cause damage to people’s files/partitions." Aug 12, 2019 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


You could put files in the relatively small boot partition.

Otherwise NO. macOS doesn't (actually won't - it could) support ext4 partitions.

There are a number of 3rd party options for ext4 support, but each new release prevents these from working.

Transfer files over the network - there are lots of options; FTP, nfs, Samba, afp etc.

  • This is a good option, and could be very fast with both machines plugged into a router with ethernet cables. Aug 12, 2019 at 17:21

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