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How To Make A Hard Drive Mac And Pc Compatible

  1. Make Hard Drive Compatible With Mac And Pc

Macs and PCs use different file systems, which can make it tricky to put data from your Mac on a flash or hard drive and give it to a Windows user. Tricky, but not impossible. Here’s how:

Dec 15, 2021 Portable Hard Drive For Mac And Pc Computer Format and external hard drive on Mac. First, let’s see how to format an external hard drive or USB drive in macOS which works with both Mac and PC platforms, first plug-in your drive in macOS machine. Portable Hard Drive For Mac And Pc Computers.

  • How to make Hard Drive Compatible for Mac and PC A hard disk drive (sometimes abbreviated as HDD, HDD, or HDD) is a non-volatile data storage device. It is usually installed inside the computer and then directly inserted into the disk controller on the computer motherboard.
  • Format that drive to ExFAT. ExFAT is an efficient, fast, compatible file system. ExFAT works freely with both Macs and Windows PC. Plug an ExFAT drive into your Mac and you Mac can see all the files on it. Read and write document to the drive. And you can do the same on a Windows PC.
  • Jun 22, 2016 It is possible to format a hard disk on a Mac (or a PC) as an ExFAT format. This format is both readable and writeable by both Mac and PCs. It cannot be used as a boot drive on either, nor can it be used as a Time Machine backup drive by a Mac. ExFAT is however fine for use as a transfer drive. It is possible to get additional software for the.
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  • Insert the flash drive or hard drive you want to format for Windows compatibility. Go to the Applications folder on your Mac’s hard drive, then go to the Utilities folder, and launch Disk Utility.
  • Select the drive you want to format. Warning: the following steps will delete any info you currently have on the drive.
  • Click the Erase button.
  • Click the Format menu, then choose either MS-DOS (FAT) or ExFAT.Choose the former if the size of the disk is 32 GB or less. Choose the latter if the size of the disk is over 32 GB.
  • Enter a name for the volume (no more than 11 characters).
  • Click Erase, then click Done.

So, if you want to use an external hard drive on both Windows and Mac, you need to format it to a filesystem that is compatible with Windows PC and Mac. Both FAT32 and exFAT can be used on Windows PC and Mac. However, FAT32 has a maximum 4GB file size limit whereas exFAT can work with files as large as 16EB.

You’ve got your external hard drive with your documents, photos and videos on it. You used the hard drive on your Windows PC and now you want to use it your Mac.

And why not?

It has plenty of space on it. But when you plug it into your Mac you find you can read the documents on it. You can even copy them onto the Mac. But when you try to copy a file from the Mac to the external drive it says no.

Arhhhh! You could just pull your hair out.

It’s so frustrating.

You don’t want to format the drive. Because you’ll loose all the documents and files that are on it.

And you can’t copy them off because your Windows PC hasn’t enough room to hold them. Even temporarily.

So how do you make an external hard drive compatible with Mac and PC without reformatting it.

In the post you’ll find various methods that work. You can choose the best method you think will works for you.

Whether it is a drive you can’t write to on your Mac or whether it’s the other way round. An external hard drive that when you plug it into your Windows PC it says no way.

There is an answer for you.

Options For Having An External Hard Drive For Mac And PC Without Formatting

1. Use a Software Solution – You get a piece of software that sits on your Mac. Or one for your Windows PC. This software acts like a translator. It interprets what is on the external hard drive so that your Mac or PC can read and write to the drive.

Use External Hard Drive On Windows And Mac

2. Use a Hardware Solution – An extra external hard drive. This allows you to have your documents set up so that both computers can use them without you loosing any data.

So, What Is The Issue? Why Doesn’t My External Hard Drive Just Work?

Each drive, whether internal, external, a hard drive or an ultra fast SSD has a file system on it.

A file system is how your Windows PC or Mac stores and finds your documents on that drive. There are different sorts of file systems. The one your Windows PC writes on the drive by default and the one your Mac writes are different.

And there is the problem.

Unless you started out with a file system that they both can read and write you’re going to run into problems.

  • Your Windows PC reads FAT32, NTFS and ExFAT file systems.
  • Your Mac read HFS+ (also known as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system, APFS (the apple file system), FAT32 and ExFAT file systems.

You’ll also see the file system referred to as the drive’s formatting.

Typically, an external hard drive that works on a Windows PC uses an NTFS file system.

And an external hard drive that works on a Mac is in HFS+ format. The faster SSD drives on a Mac may well use an APFS file system.

To check, right click on the external hard drive. Then you can check the drive’s properties if you’re not sure what file system it uses.

Before You Decide How You’re Going To Fix Your External Hard Drive For Mac And PC Without Losing Any Files

There are some questions to ask yourself before you go ahead.

1. Which Computer Are You Planning To Use Your External Hard Drive Most On?

Because if your using your external hard drive mostly on your Windows PC. Then you just need to fix the issue on the Mac for the odd time you need to use the drive there.

If mostly on your Mac then the same thing holds true. You just need to fix the issue on the Windows PC for the short time you’ll use the external hard drive there.

If your answer is, you will use equally on both. Then you’d be better off with your documents on your hard drive in a format both computers can read freely. I’ll go into this later.

2. How Much Do You Want To Spend On The Problem?

You may get lucky and find there is a free solution. Or you may need to spend some money.

Options For Making An External Hard Drive For Mac And PC Without Formatting

1. Software Solutions

How To Use Seagate External Hard Drive On Mac And Windows

What Software Solutions are good for:

  • Long term or off and on use
  • You use the software on the Mac or Windows PC that can’t read the drive.

Downsides

  • Does your external hard drive manufacturer provide the software for free? If not, you will need to pay.
  • Each time you upgrade the operating system on your Mac (if you have bought it for a Mac). Or your Windows PC, if you bought it for the Windows PC.
  • You’ll need to check that the software is compatible with the new operating system. Or wait for the release of a version that works.

Finding A Free Software Fix

The manufacturer of your hard drive may provide a free solution.

So it is well worth checking the model of your external hard drive on the manufacturers site.

For example Seagate provides a free NTFS reader for the Mac on their support downloads page.

Check the software is compatible for the operating system you’re running. And check it’s compatible with your model of Seagate external hard drive.

You can check this on the Seagate site here.

Paid Software Solutions

The two front-runners in this space with the best reputations are:

Paragon software and Tuxera

Both companies have tools that make an external hard drive compatible with Mac and PC without formatting.

Paragon Software

The good news is that you can download the software and have a 10 day free trial. That allows you to test out the Paragon software and make sure it’s for you and your particular set up.

The Paragon Software set of tools has more options compared to Tuxera.

You can get:

  • NTFS software for Mac – you load this software on the Mac to read a Windows PC NTFS formatted drive.
  • APFS for Windows – This piece of software sits on the Windows PC and allows it to read the Mac’s APFS drives. APFS drives on the Mac are often SSD drives.
  • HFS+ for Windows – Sits on the Windows PC and allows it to read HFS+ formatted external hard drives.

Tuxera Software

Tuxera also has a free trial period that you can take advantage of before you buy. In Tuxera’s case the trial period is15 days.

Tuxera NTFS for Mac – Sits on the Mac. It allows the Mac to read and write to a Windows PC NTFS formatted external hard drive.

2. Hardware Solution

What This Option is Good For:

Read Mac Drive On Windows

  • Heavy or the equal use of your external hard drive on both your Mac and PC.
  • No special software tool to buy, maintain or check the versions of.

Downside

  • It’s not a free option unless you can loan a drive.

Buy A 2nd External Hard Drive

What! I hear you say. Bear with me.

Buy a 2nd external hard drive. You can find some I suggest here.

1. Format that drive to ExFAT.

ExFAT is an efficient, fast, compatible file system. ExFAT works freely with both Macs and Windows PC. Plug an ExFAT drive into your Mac and you Mac can see all the files on it. Read and write document to the drive. And you can do the same on a Windows PC.

How To Use External Hard Drive On Mac And Windows

You can find out how to format an external hard drive to ExFAT in my document here.

2. Next. Once you have your new or loan external hard drive formatted to ExFAT. Plug both external drives into your Mac. By this I mean the NTFS drive with your documents on and the newly formatted ExFAT drive.

3. You then open two finder windows on your Mac. One finder window on the NTFS formatted drive. And the other Finder windows on the ExFAT drive.

4. And because your Mac can read the NTFS drive. You simply copy all your documents off the drive using the finder window, onto the ExFAT drive.

5. And there you go. You have all your files on a drive that is compatible with both Mac and PC. You can plug that drive into either and use it.

Yes, you had some formatting to do but it was on the new drive. And you did it without losing any data.

And What Do You Do With The Spare External Hard Drive When You’re Done?

Use your second external hard drive for backup.

A good idea as you should never only have one copy of your documents on any drive.

OR indeed in any one place.

As drives as well as cloud storage have been known to and do fail.

And that would mean you loosing all your documents, files, photos, music …

Loan A Drive

How To Use External Hard Drive On Pc And Mac

If you can, find a good friend to loan an external hard drive from. You’ll need a drive with nothing on it.

Just as if you bought the drive yourself, you follow my directions above.

Use Mac External Hard Drive On Windows

You format the drive to ExFAT. Copy your files across as I explained for buying a drive.

Then you format your own drive – Don’t worry all this formatting only takes a few minutes.

Copy the files back onto your own external drive.

Return the loaned hard drive to the person you borrowed it from.

Last Words

I hope you enjoyed my article on how to make an external hard drive compatible with Mac and PC without reformatting.

How To Make A Hard Drive Mac And Pc Compatible

Mac And Pc Compatible External Hard Drive

Whether you go the software or hardware route depends on your situation. And which you find the easier to use.

Either way there is a solution to having an existing external hard drive for Mac and PC. And without formatting the drive.


You may be thinking if it is possible to use an external hard drive on both PC and Mac. Yes, it is possible, but the only requirement is that the file system used is compatible on both these machines. To do this, you will need to format the drive using exFAT or FAT32, which are file systems compatible with both Windows and Mac.

To help you select between FAT32 and ExFAT, here are some details. Generally, ExFAT is preferred over FAT32 as ExFAT has large partition and file size limits and also performs better. For example, FAT32 supports files up to 4 GB, while ExFAT has a limit of 16EB.

Make Hard Drive Compatible With Mac And Pc

On the other hand, if you’re looking for compatibility with other devices such as Xbox 360 and such, you can use FAT32.

Now that you know whether you want to use FAT32 or ExFAT, we’ll move on to the steps to format an external hard drive.

How to format a drive in Windows?

Formatting a drive is pretty straightforward using ‘Disk Management’ utility in Windows. First, connect the external hard drive to your PC and make sure you have a backup as formatting will erase all data on the drive. Then follow the steps below.

  1. Press ‘Windows + X’ and select ‘Disk Management’. This tool is used to manage all disk drives associated with your computer
  2. Identify your ‘external hard drive’ from the list of drives and right click on it
  3. Click on ‘New Simple Volume’
  4. Choose a ‘volume size’ in the wizard that opens. The volume size is the same as the maximum volume size that is displayed in the same wizard
  5. In the next step, assign a ‘drive letter’ to the external drive
  6. Then ‘format’ the partition as ‘ExFAT’ in the format partition screen
  7. Finally, assign the volume a ‘new name’ and click on Next to complete the format process.

After you’ve formatted using ‘ExFAT’ file system, the external hard drive is ready to be used in both Windows and Mac machines. Next, let us see how you can format a drive on a Mac.

How to format a drive in Mac?

To format a drive on Mac, you can use the built-in tool called ‘Disk Utility’. Start by connecting the external hard drive to your Mac and follow the steps below.

  1. Open ‘Finder’ and select ‘Applications’ on the left panel
  2. Click on ‘Utilities’ > ‘Disk Utility’ to open Disk Utility
  3. On the left panel, you will find a list of drives; select your ‘external hard drive’ from the list
  4. Click on ‘Erase’ button at the top. Please note that this will erase all data on the drive; so make sure you have a backup before performing this step.
  5. Assign a ‘name’ to the partition and select ‘ExFAT’ file system for the format
  6. Click on ‘Erase’ to complete the format process

Once you’ve formatted the drive using exFAT file system, it is ready to be used in both Windows and Mac systems.

Conclusion

Please bear in mind that using the same drive regularly between both Windows and Mac can increase chances of corruption or damage. So, be sure to use ‘Safely remove hardware’ after each use. And also have a backup of all the data on the external hard drive to be prepared for corruption and data loss scenarios. In case there is no backup available and your drive is corrupted, you can use Yodot Recovery software to recover data from damaged external hard drive.

The software can be used to recover data not only from external hard drives but also from USB flash drives, memory cards etc. The software is available for both Windows and Mac users.