How can I make external hard drive compatible with Mac and Windows?
“I have two computers, one running Mac operating system, another running Windows. I
want to copy and transfer files between the two computers using my portable external
Western Digital hard drive that is originally formatted with NTFS. I have realized
that NTFS drive is fully supported on Windows computer, but read only on Mac
computer. That is to say, my external hard drive is unable to work well both in Mac
and Windows computer. Is there anyone can tell me how to make my hard drive
compatible with Mac and Windows? Thanks a lot!”
Two file systems compatible with Mac and Windows
NTFS is the default file system for Windows operating system and HFS for Mac
operating system. If you want to make your drive compatible with Mac and Windows,
you need to format it with a common file system for Mac and Windows. FAT32 and exFAT
can be compatible with Mac and Windows and you can choose one after realizing
their respective merits and defects based on your demands:
FAT32 takes advantages in compatibility. It is compatible with various devices like
DVD player, game console etc. Apart from Mac and Windows, it can support Linux and
Android. However, it is with significant defects: Single file size is up to 4GB and
partition capacity is not beyond 2TB.
exFAT supports partition larger than 2TB and single file over 4GB. But it is also
with defect: Compared with FAT32, the entire file system of exFAT is easier to be
Format a drive for Mac and Windows
From all above, you can have a general idea of FAT32 and exFAT file system. It is
time to learn how to format your external hard drive or other external drives to a
common file system for Mac and Windows.
Format drive to exFAT via Diskpart
In general, Windows built-in tools Disk Management and Diskpart can format drive to
exFAT easily. However, in Disk Management, you’ll find that there
is no exFAT option when you right click the partition that you need to
format and choose “Format Partition”, if the partition is on an internal or external
hard drive. Then, let’s see how to format drive with exFAT using Diskpart utility.
PS.: Formatting will delete all data on the partition. It is
advised to backup important data on the partition before formatting.
1. Connect your drive to working computer running Windows and make sure that it will
be detected by operating system.
2. Open Run box by pressing “Windows” + “R” simultaneously and hitting “Enter”.
3. In the box, input “diskpart” and hit “Enter”.
4. In the Diskpart windows, type the command lines below and each command shall be
followed by hitting “Enter” key:
(“n” is the disk number)
select partition m
(“m” is the partition number that’ll be formatting)
When you see Diskpart successfully formatted the volume, type “exit” and press
Format drive via free partition formatting tool
AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is
great partition formatting freeware, which offers you more file systems to
choose during formatting. It allows you to format partition to exFAT, FAT32, NTFS,
Ext2 and Ext3 and Ext4 on external hard drive, internal hard drive, USB flash
drive and SD card. It can work with Windows 10/8/8.1/7, XP and Vista.
To format external drive to file system compatible with Mac and PC, connect the drive
to your computer and follow the detailed steps given below (Take formatting hard
drive to exFAT in Windows 7 for example):
Step 1. Download AOMEI Partition
Assistant. Install and run it. In the main interface, right click the partition on
that need formatting and choose “Format Partition”.
Step 2. In this pop-up window,
choose exFAT among listed file systems and click “OK”.
PS.: In this window, it is
available to specify Partition label to the partition and adjust cluster size.
Step 3. Here you’ll go back to the
main interface. Confirm formatting operation and click
“Apply” > “Proceed”
to perform this operation.
For partition larger than 32GB, AOMEI Partition is able to format it to FAT32
file system quickly and easily.
If there is no partition on your disk, you can create exFAT or FAT32 file
system partition using “Create Partition” function.
It’s not a tough task to format your drive with common file system for Mac and
Windows. You can format it using Windows built-in tools or third party partition
formatting tool. In fact, AOMEI Partition Assistant can provide you with more
functions. For instance, it allows you to delete partition, resize partition and
wipe partition etc. And you can experience more functions if you upgrade it to Professional version.