How to use your SanDisk Sansa e200 Series .mp3 player with OS X

SanDisk’s Sansa series of .mp3 players are compact, well built (except for the scroll wheel..) and all around a good deal for the price. I bought my e280 about a year ago and I enjoy it. It works without problem and does what its supposed to. I enjoy the ease of just dragging and dropping folders of .mp3 files into the music directory. No PC iTunes, no weird proprietary software and best of all – no Windows Media Player nonsense. There’s only one thing that I can’t stand about it – No OS X support.

Fortunately, I dug and dug through forums and open source software and learned you can get the Sansa e280 to work under OS X.

Edit: This tutorial is for those using OS X 10.4 and below. The Sansa is compatible with 10.5 Leopard.

Its relatively easy to do, but it will involve downgrading your firmware and you will need a PC to pull it off. I haven’t tested this with Boot Camp but I did under Parallels and it worked just fine so I’d assume it will also work under Boot Camp.

Before we get started please take warning of the risks in modifying firmware. You may screw up your device. The firmware we’ll be using is official SanDisk firmware so the risk is minimal.

Note: This tutorial is for Sansa v1 models only. If you have v2, do not use the v01.01.11a firmware. It WILL break your Sansa v2. If you aren’t sure which version you have, look on the back in the lower right hand corner. A Sansa v1 will say the model number (e280). A Sansa v2 will say v2. Also, look on the Sansa’s menu under Settings and choose Info. The firmware version will also tell you which model you have. A Sansa v1 will say “Firmware: v01.0x.xx” and the Sansa v2 will say “Firmware: v03.0x.xx”.

Once again, DO NOT use v1 firmware with a v2 player or v2 firmware with a v1 player.

Here’s what you need to do to get your Sansa e200 Series player working under OS X:

1. Download the proper Firmware:

    - The Key for OS X to recognize the e200 series is firmware version v01.01.11a.
    - This is the last version of SanDisk firmware that worked under OS X.
    - Important: Do not change the filenames.

2. Set your Sansa to MSC Mode:

    - On the Sansa, go into the Settings Menu.
    - Choose USB.
    - Choose MSC.

3. Find a PC or BootCamp / Parallels:

    - Boot into Windows.
    - Connect the Sansa.

4. Transfer the firmware files to the root directory:

    - Open the Sansa directory on your PC/Parallels.
    - Place the firmware and rom files in the root (top-most level directory).

5. Install the Firmware:

    - Unplug the Sansa and it will reboot.
    - Watch it reboot and wait for the “Upgrading Firmware” message.
    - The player will reboot again.
    - Check under Settings and Info that the firmware is v01.01.11a.

6. Test Player under OS X:

    - Plug the Sansa into your Mac.
    - The Sansa will say “Connected”.
    - The Sansa should then mount onto the Desktop.
    - Now you can drag and drop files and music.
    - Eject the device and it will reboot and refresh the database.

Important: When you eject your Sansa, make sure you eject from OS X first (just like a USB Drive). Once the device has disappeared from the Desktop / Finder Sidebar, you may unplug the Sansa.

Enjoy using your Sansa in OS X!

Update:
Since I downgraded my firmware, my DLO Transdock Micro doesn’t work anymore. :( It seems that there are significant enough differences between the v01.01.xx series firmware and the v01.02.xx series that cause compatibility problems with more than just OS X. So, since my Sansa gets at least 99% of use in the car and I’m quite happy with my DLO Transdock Micro, I guess I’m stuck with using the e280 with the PC.

I can deal with using it via Parallels but shame on SanDisk for not supporting OS X.

Update #2:
Thanks to Vegard B. who pointed out in the comments that the Sansa will work in Leopard. I tested it with OS X 10.5.3, Sansa Firmware version v01.02.18A and its working perfectly.

David Balogh tagged this post with: , , , , Read 228 articles by

4 Comments

  1. Vegard. B says:

    Much easier than this:

    In Tiger: Connect the player (turned on, ready to connect whitout any need of updating the music library) to the Mac while the gray bootscreen (the first gray, the one without progress wheel and Apple icon), now your mac would identify and detect it when OS X are finished up loading.

    In Leopard: Fortunately, the only thing to do under Leopard is to, just connect the player, anytime you want to;)

  2. David Balogh says:

    Vegard,

    Since I basically gave up on using my Sansa with my mac, I never tried to use it after upgrading to Leopard (which was about two months ago). I plugged it in and it worked perfectly!

    Thanks!

  3. scruss says:

    Ever thought of installing Rockbox on your e280? While it uses the Sandisk firmware to transfer files, it makes the unit a much better player.

  4. jphelps says:

    Hm, I have OS X 10.5.6 and my e260r is not recognized.