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Bogdan Petrov
Bogdan Petrov

Reformat Windows Drive For Mac

Want to use one external drive for both your Windows PC and your Mac machine? One hurdle you'll face is that, by default, these platforms use different filesystems. Windows uses NTFS while Mac OS uses HFS, and they're incompatible with each other. However, you can format the drive to work with both Windows and Mac by using the exFAT filesystem. Here's how.

Reformat Windows Drive For Mac

You can format the drive from either Mac or Windows. However, if you want to use part of the drive for OS X's Time Machine backups, you should do this from the Mac, since there's an extra step to make the drive compatible for Time Machine.

5. Give the drive a descriptive name and leave the default settings: OS X Extended format and GUID partition map. These will format the drive in OS X's HFS+ filetype so it will be compatible with Time Machine.

8. Enter the amount of space you want to set aside for Time Machine. In this example, we're shrinking the Time Machine partition to 128GB instead of allowing Time Machine to take up the whole drive.

Your exFAT-formatted drive or partition can now be used for both Windows and Mac. Note that using a drive frequently between Windows and Mac could increase the chances of file corruption, so make sure you have backups of the files on the shared drive and be extra careful about safely ejecting the drive before disconnecting it from your computer.

In Disk Utility, you can format an external disk that you can use with both a Microsoft Windows-based computer and a Mac. For example, you might want to do this if you use a flash drive to store data files you need to use on your Mac at home and when using a Windows-based computer at school or the public library.

Right-click in the unallocated space on the initialized disk and select New Simple Volume. Use the wizard to create a partition with the NTFS or FAT32 file system. The drive will now be formatted for use by Windows systems. There will be no space wasted by protected Mac partitions.

A partition also gives you a dedicated space foryour Time Machine back-up files or a bootable backup of your operating system.It also helps protect your data if your drive gets infected with malware, as itwould be contained within one of the partitions.

Step 8. On the window that appears, select where you want to save backup and whether you want to format your backup by bytes or sectors (bytes is fine for most cases). Next, choose how many bytes of the drive you want to back up using the numbered range dropdowns menus. Finally, click Save.

Step 3. In the dialogue box that appears, choose the Name, Format, and Scheme of your drive. Choose exFAT for the Format, and GUID Partition Map (known as GPT to Windows users) for the Scheme. Finally, click Erase.

External hard drives are handy for transferring data between computers or as additional backup space. But if you try to use an external hard drive that's been formatted for Mac OS, you'll find that it will not work on your PC. To convert an external hard drive from Apple to PC you'll have to format the drive so that it can be read by the Windows operating system -- a process simplified through the built-in disk management tools of Windows.

The file format standard you use for your external drive will depend on how you plan on using the drive. But before I can dig into what makes sense when, look over this quick rundown of the different standards and which OS each one is compatible with.

According to the list above, formatting your hard drive to exFAT so that you can read and write on either a PC or Mac seems like the obvious solution. And if that's how you plan on using your drive, then you're right -- exFAT is the way to go. However, if you plan on only using a drive on your Mac and it has MacOS High Sierra or newer installed, you'll want to stick to Apple's APFS format. And the same can be said for a Windows HD, if you only plan on connecting it to a PC, then NTFS is the way to go.

If you keep your hard drive's out-of-the-box NTFS format, you'll be able to read the drive when it's connected to a Mac, but you won't be able to write to it. In other words, you can look at files saved on the drive, but you can't save any new files from your Mac. In order to enable read/write access, you'll need to purchase a third-party solution such as Paragon NTFS. It's $20, and is compatible with all Macs, even the more recently announced M1 Macs.

Conversely, you can format the HD to APFS and use Paragon's APFS for Windows to read and write to the Mac-formatted hard drive. The only downside is that it's $50. With it installed, you'll be able to read/write to APFS drives on a Windows PC.

This solution is a little different than the previous two because instead of having one hard drive that works with both machines, you're splitting your HD into two sections, each dedicated to a different OS. For example, if you have a 1TB hard drive, 500GB of storage can be used with your Windows computer, and 500 will be dedicated to your Mac computer.

To do that, connect the empty external HD to your Mac and launch Disk Utility. Select the drive from the left sidebar, then click the Partition tab. Click the + sign to add a second partition, then drag the lines to adjust the size of each partition. For example, you might want more storage for your Mac than you do for your PC. Name one partition Windows and change its format to exFAT. Then click the second partition, name it Mac and change its format to APFS. Give your settings a final lookover and click Apply. Going forward, you should be able to use the drive and its dual partitions on their respective operating systems.

Now that you have your drive formatted based on how you plan to use it, take a few minutes and make sure you're backing up your computer. We have a guide for backing up a Mac, as well as backing up a PC.

Though the default hard disk file systems (also known as format) of Windows and Mac are different, there should be some ways to format an external hard drive to make it compatible with your Mac or PC.

If you need to use an external hard drive on Mac that is not completely compatible with your computer OS and you have the urge to format hard drive for Mac and PC, you should know there is a more feasible way to make your external hard drives compatible with your Mac and PC. This method suits you most if you just want to use it occasionally on different OS or don't want to lose all the files caused by formatting drive for Mac and PC.

Usually, most hard drive manufacturers use the NTFS(New Technology File System) to format their external HDD as a factory standard, including many famous brands such as Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch and WD My Passport. This is because Windows is the most commonly used around the world. However, the NTFS format can be a hassle for users who need to use the same external hard drive on both Mac and Windows. Because you can read NTFS drive on Mac only and you can't write to this drive normally in this case.

Under such a circumstance, a professional NTFS driver for Mac like iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is exactly what you need. Even if the external hard drive is read-only on Mac, this iBoysoft tool enables you to write to NTFS drives on the Mac with ease. Now, it also supports macOS Ventura to High Sierra, Mac with M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M2 chips. Here is an easy tutorial to follow:

If there are no important files kept on the drive, you can move on to know how to format external hard drive for Mac and PC, choose a file format that works on either Mac, PC, or both.

To format a Mac external hard drive to store data, you'll need to launch the Disk Utility app, the built-in disk management tool. If you encounter seeing the external hard drive greyed out in Disk Utility on Mac or the external hard drive not showing up in Disk Utility, fix the problems in the first place. Then, you can proceed to choose the best file format for your external disk when erasing it in the Disk Utility app.

Among all the 10 formats (file systems) you can select in macOS 10.13 or above the APFS is the suggested one, because it has the most recent features to work with the best performance and data management. However, it is only compatible with macOS. If your goal is to format drive for Mac and PC, you have to choose FAT or exFAT, compatible file formats for Mac and Windows. And finally, all the other file formats are only used for Mac.

1. Find the target external hard drive in Disk Management and check if it's already initialized, if it's not, click on it using the right button of the mouse and choose the style (scheme) you are going to use, MBR or GPT, then right-click on it, and choose Format from the contextual menu.

2. Then set the disk information in the Format Partition screen, including allocation unit size, volume label, and format. If you want an interchangeable drive to use on both macOS and Windows, you must choose FAT or exFAT, the format works on Mac and PC.

The file system is what manages how your files are stored and retrieved on your devices. So, every hard disk needs a proper file system, including desktop drives and portable storage devices like external drives, USB flash drives, and sd cards.

However, different formats have different advantages and disadvantages. So before you know how to format a hard drive for Mac and PC, you should know the pros and cons of each file system.

FAT (File Allocation Table) was one file system originally developed for use on floppy disks, later it was adapted for use on many other devices including Hard drives and it includes three major file system variants. The majorly used one is FAT32 which is commonly used in floppy disks, SD memory cards, USB, digital cameras, as well as many portable and embedded devices.


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