By Dervish / Last Updated March 7, 2022

Need to use USB on both Mac and PC

 

I have a USB drive and want to use it on both Mac and PC. If the USB drive is formatted as an HFS+ file system, Windows computer will not support it. But if it is formatted as NTFS, it will not be fully supported in the Mac operating system. How do I format USB drives for Mac and PC on Windows? In other words, how to make an external hard drive compatible with Mac and PC?”

 

exFAT and FAT32 can be supported by Mac and PC

By default, Mac use HFS+, while PC usually use NTFS. If you have a USB drive and plan to use it on Mac and PC, then you need to find a file system supported by both Mac and PC, otherwise it will not be recognized.

Fortunately, there are two file systems supported by Mac and PC. In other words, you can use USB with one of the file systems to easily access Windows and Mac and transfer data. You need to format the USB as exFAT or FAT32, both of which are supported by Mac and PC. But what are the specific differences between exFAT and FAT32? Please refer to the table below:

Major File System Comparison

 

Compatible with macOS?

Compatible with Windows?

Max. file size

Max. partition size

HFS+

Yes

No

No limit

No limit

NTFS

Partially

Yes

No limit

No limit

FAT32

Yes

Yes

4GB

8GB

exFAT

Yes

Yes

No limit

No limit

So, if someone asks does exFAT work on Mac and PC? The answer is absolutely yes. exFAT is the file system available for all versions of Windows and macOS(Requires Mac OS X version 10.6.6 and above)and does not have any maximum file size or partition size restrictions, especially when you need to save files larger than 4 GB, exFAT is the most suitable.

Now, you already know that exFAT is the ideal file system. But do you know how to format USB to exFAT?

Two simple ways to format USB for both Mac and PC on Windows

Below I will introduce you two methods to format the USB, one is to use the third-party program AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, and the other is to use Windows built-in utility Diskpart.

Before starting, please connect the USB to Windows to make sure that the USB can be detected. Please note that this operation will erase all data on the USB, if you have important data, please back it up in advance.

Format USB drive via AOMEI Partition Assistant

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard(Support Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP)is a free and professional disk management software. It does not carry any bundled software, with a friendly interface, any user can use it easily.

In addition to formatting, it also has many practical functions, such as: Merge Partition, Disk Clone, Migrate OS from MBR disk to MBR SSD or HDD. If you want to Recover Lost Partition, Convert FAT32 to NTFS without Data Loss, please upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. You can free download AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to see how it works.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, right-click the partition you want to format, and select Format Partition.

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Step 2. Choose the exFAT file systemon this page(If you want to format to FAT32 file system, then please choose FAT32.) You are allowed to edit the partition labels and select cluster size at the same time. Click OK.

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Step 3. Preview the result. Click Apply and then proceed after your confirmation. The process will be completed in a short while.

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Format USB drive with Diskpart

In addition to using AOMEI Partition Assistant to format the USB, Diskpart is also a good choice. But you need to note that Diskpart does not support formatting USB drives larger than 32G to FAT32. If you have such a need, please choose method 1.

Step 1. Press “Windows” + “R” to open the Run dialogue. Type “diskpart” in the Run dialogue, and hit Enter.

Step 2. In the Diskpart window, input the following commands and hit Enter after each command.

● list disk
● select disk X,  X is the disk number of the USB drive.
● list partition
● select partition Y, Y is the number of partition going to be formatted.
● format fs=exFAT quick

Tips: If you need to format it to FAT32, replace the last command with “format fs=fat32”.

Step 3. Type “exit” to close this window.

Conclusion

You can use Diskpart and AOMEI Partition Assistant to format USB for Mac and PC on Windows. Obviously, using AOMEI Partition Assistant has fewer restrictions on formatting USB drives. When formatting the USB to FAT32, you don't need to worry about the 32 GB partition size limit of AOMEI products.