By Cherry / Last Updated August 26, 2019


“Hey, I might have some issues with the exFAT file system in Windows 10. My version of the operating system is Windows 10 Pro, 64 bit. I have a USB flash drive with a ton of music and a copy of Windows 7 Pro 32 bit meant for Oracle’s VirtualBox. The USB drive is about 32GB and I formatted it on my MacBook running OSX Mavericks for exFAT, because this seems to be the only available file system that is compatible with both Mac and Windows.

However, when I plug in the USB drive to my Windows 10 computer, the exFAT USB drive created on Mac OS not working in Windows 10 and remind with “Windows is not able to detect the file system”. So, how do I get Windows to recognize exFAT drive and allow me to read and write with this exFAT formatted drive?”

About exFAT

FAT32, NTFS, exFAT are three different file systems. there are differences between the three file systems.

FAT32, is a file system that compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. However, it has some serious limitations, for example, individual files can only be up to 4GB in size each. Thus, if there is any individual file larger than 4GB, it is not suitable.

NTFS, is a file system that works with Windows OS. It is a file system that read-only allowed on Mac OS X.

ExFAT, is also compatible with Windows and Mac. Compared with FAT32, exFAT doesn’t have the limitations of FAT32. Thus, many users would prefer the exFAT file system to compatible with both Windows and Mac.

However, like the Scenario said, Windows can’t normally read Mac-formatted drives. If you formatted your drive in exFAT with Apple’s HFS Plus, the exFAT drive cannot be read by Windows in default even though the exFAT file system is compatible with both Mac and Windows. In fact, some manufacturers sell “Mac drives” pre-formatted with this Mac-only file system.

How to solve exFAT drive not recognized in Windows 10?

If you have to solve the problem “exFAT drive not recognized in Windows 10”, you can follow the methods below.

Access a Mac-formatted drive with HFSExplorer

HFSExplorer is a free software that can help you access a Mac-formatted drive. But first, you need to install Java, then, install HFSEexplorer on your Windows 10. It allows you to read a Mac-formatted drive, and copy the files to your Windows PC freely. If you are going to use its write support, you need to pay for it.

To use HFSExplorer to access the Mac-formatted drive, you can follow the steps below:

Step 1. Connect the drive to your Windows computer. Launch HFSExplorer.

Step 2. Click the “File” menu, select “Load File System From Device.” It will automatically locate the connected drive, and you can load it.

Step 3. When you see the contents of the HFS+ drive in the graphical window, just select the files or folders you want, click “Extract”, and choose a folder. They’ll be copied to the folder you choose on you Windows computer.

However, HFSExplorer isn’t the best choice. It doesn’t have a lot of features, and it is read-only. If you want to read and write the Mac-formatted drive on both Windows and Mac, reformat it as exFAT should be the best way.

Reformat drive to exFAT to be compatible with both Windows and Mac

Pay attention: Reformat drive will delete all data on the drive. Please confirm that you have backed up the important data on the drive before formatting.

Actually, when you connect a Mac-formatted drive to Windows computer, it will pop up a window reminds you that “You need to format the disk in drive N: before you can use it.” If you have important data on the drive, you should cancel that operation, because it will erase all data on the drive.

Once you’ve backed up all data on the Mac-formatted drive, you can format it with the exFAT file system on your Windows computer.

You can format drive to exFAT with Windows File Explorer:

Right click the drive, select Format. Choose the exFAT file system in the list. You can also set up Allocation unit size and Volume label here. Tick the option of Quick Format, click Start.

Format exFAT

However, you can not successfully format the drive as exFAT in Windows File Explorer every time. You may meet some problems caused not possible to format drive to exFAT. Thus, you need to turn to third party software to make it successful.

Format drive as exFAT with AOMEI Partition Assistant:

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a free exFAT formatter that can help you format drive to exFAT with a few simple steps. It is a better disk manager that can make up the shortage of Windows tools and fix “exFAT not recognized on Windows 10” problem. Here are the detailed steps of how to reformat drive to exFAT with AOMEI Partition Assistant.

Step 1. Connect Mac-formatted drive to your Windows computer. Free download, install AOMEI Partition Assistant to Windows, launch it.

Step 2. It will display you all disks on the Windows. Right click the Mac-formatted drive, select Format Partition.

Format exFAT Partition

Step 3. It will pop up a window for formatting. AOMEI Partition Assistant allows you to format drive to FAT32, NTFS, Ext2, Ext3, exFAT. Here we choose exFAT. Click OK.

Choose Exfat File System

Step 4. When you back to the main interface, click Apply at the toolbar, and click Proceed to initiate the progress.



When you got the problem that exFAT external hard drive not recognized on Windows, you can turn to AOMEI Partition Assistant for help. It is a great tool for you to manage your internal/external hard drive. It supports you to format and create exFAT partition, and it also works on other file systems. It is widely used in Windows PC users.

If you need more advanced features, you can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to unlock the features such as Allocate Free Space, Convert boot Drive between MBR and GPT, etc.