How to format external hard drive for Mac and PC?

Posted by Juno to NTFS for Mac on February 11th, 2018

External hard drive can be very convenient to help us to transfer files among computers. But it is not always so fluent to move files between Mac and PC, namely, between macOS and Windows. The two different platforms have different default file system: the default file system on Windows is NTFS, while it is HFS+ or APFS on macOS. It should be noted that the HFS+ and APFS are not compatible with Windows and NTFS is read-only on macOS.

In order to make our external hard drive seamlessly work on both Mac and PC, we need to format our drive to a file system supported by both platforms.

Three formats that can make external hard drive be compatible with Mac and PC

Here are three formats we can choose to make external hard drive be compatible with both Windows and macOS: FAT32, exFAT and NTFS. We can choose the most suitable one according to our own needs. Following are the features of the three formats.

FAT32

Pros: It can universally work with all versions of macOS and Windows, including a majority of recent and recently obsolete operating systems

Cons: It doesn't support files larger than 4GB, drive partition larger than 32GB on Windows, or drive partition larger than 2TB on macOS.

So FAT32 is suitable when we want to store files of relatively small sizes and the drive doesn't have a large capacity. Otherwise, FAT32 is not the best choice for us.

exFAT

Pros: The largest partition and file sizes it supportted are nearly unlimited by today's standards.

Cons: It is not compatible with older operating systems. We must have macOS 10.6.5 or newer, and PC need to be Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7 or newer.

As most users have upgraded operating system, it is actually quite easy to meet to lowest operating system requirements of exFAT. So exFAT can be a very good option to share external hard drive between macOS and Windows.

NTFS

Pros: It is the default file system on Windows and has faster transfer speed, better performance than FAT32 and exFAT.

Cons: By default, NTFS is read-only on macOS.

Actually, we can enable NTFS write support on macOS only with simple method. So read-only can't be a reason for us to give up using NTFS, especially when we have high requirements on transfer speed and performance of drives. This passage will offer easy methods to enable NTFS write support on macOS.

How to format external hard drive for Mac and PC on Windows?

On Windows computer, we can follow the steps below to format an external hard drive for both Mac and PC.

1. Go to Computer (or My Computer on Windows XP).

2. Select the external hard drive from the list and right-click on it. Choose Format from the contextual menu.

3. Choose format (NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT), and then set format information (allocation unit size, volume label and format option).

4. Click "Start" to format the external hard drive.

How to format external hard drive for Mac and PC on macOS?

When we are using Mac, we can use the method below to make our external hard drive be compatible with both macOS and Windows.

1. Launch Disk Utility.

2. Select the external hard drive on the left part of the window.

3. Click the Erase on the top of the window.

4. Complete related information, including name, format (Mac OS Extend refers to HFS+, MS-DOS refers to FAT32), scheme, and then click Erase button.

How to mount NTFS external hard drive on macOS with read-write mode?

After formatting our external hard drive to NTFS, only a NTFS driver for macOS can help us to mount the NTFS drive on Mac with read-write mode. Here are two reliable NTFS for macOS software that can help.

1. NTFS Assistant - the cheapest NTFS for Mac software in App Store

NTFS Assistant is a handy NTFS driver for macOS software that can effectively mount NTFS drive as a regular drive with read-write mode. It supports macOS 10.13/10.12 and macOS 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7. It is the cheapest NTFS for Mac software in App Store, and has very stable and effective performance.

Step 1: Download NTFS Assistant from App Store >> and install it.

Step 2: Download and install NTFS Assistant Helper >> on iBoysoft website to enable NTFS read-write access.

Step 3: Launch NTFS Assistant and connect NTFS drive to Mac.

2. iBoysoft Drive Manager - professional NTFS for Mac software

iBoysoft Drive Manager is a professional Mac tool that can automatically enable write to NTFS drive on Mac. It supports macOS 10.13/10.12 and macOS 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

mount NTFS external hard drive on macOS with read-write mode

iBoysoft Drive Manager is also a handy tool to manage external drives and network drives. It offers a menu bar from which we can easily mount, unmount and remount network drives, external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, memory card, CF card, pen drive, etc.

Tutorial to mount NTFS external hard drive on macOS with read-write mode with iBoysoft Drive Manager

Step 1: Free download and install iBoysoft Drive Manager on Mac.

Download iBoysoft Drive Manager

Step 2: Launch iBoysoft Drive Manager and connect our NTFS external hard drive to Mac.

Step 3: Write to NTFS external hard drive after getting notified that it has been mounted successfully.

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