An external hard drive that supports both Windows and Mac operating systems can be extremely helpful to users who work on both the operating systems. However, Windows was mainly optimized for NTFS (New Technology file system) format, on the other hand, APFS was created for the Mac OS.As we all know NTFS is not compatible with Mac and similarly APFS does not get along with Windows. Fortunately, you could create an external hard disk which is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS with the help of this article. This does not require any third-party application or assistance of any additional software. Let’s get down to make the external hard drive compatible with Mac and Windows.
How to create an external hard disk compatible on Mac and Windows?
Lets us first understand how to make the external hard drive compatible with Mac and Windows? using exFAT and Dual formatting?
- exFAT – Formatting a hard drive with the exFAT file system. Since exFAT formatted external hard disk are readable and writable by both the operating systems
- Dual formatting – If you are a user who prefers to have both APFS and NTFS file system on a single external hard disk, you can partition and dual format the hard drive.
Steps on how to format an external drive on macOS with exFAT
- Connect the drive to the Mac.
- Open Disk Utility. The easiest way to do that is to hit CMD and the spacebar at the same time and type in Disk Utility to find the program.
- In disk utility, you will have an internal and external drive
- Select the drive you want to format and click erase.
- Give the partition a name and select exFAT for the format.
- Click Erase to finish and you will complete the procedure.
Steps on how to format an external drive on Windows with exFAT
- Connect the drive to your Windows PC.
- Open the Disk Management tool. You can do that by typing "disk format" or "disk management" in Windows search or going to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Create and format hard disk partitions.
- Right-click on the external drive's partition or unallocated space you want to format and choose New Simple Volume
- Follow the wizard to choose a volume size.
- Assign a drive letter.
- Choose exFAT as the file system in the Format Partition screen.
- Give the volume a new name, click next and finish to complete the procedure.
Note - Your exFAT-formatted drive or partition can now be used for both Windows and Mac. Keep in mind that using a drive frequently between Windows and Mac could increase the chances of hard disk corruption, so make sure you have a backup of the data any drive. In case if you happened to lose you will need a reliable third party application to fix the issue.
How to Dual Format an external hard disk?
Let us understand how to make the external hard drive compatible with Mac and Windows using dual formatting?
If the user desires to use NTFS, APFS or HFS+ for any specific reasons and does not want to opt for exFAT, there is another option. Instead of formatting a drive with a single file system, the user can create two partitions and format those with NTFS, APFS, HFS+ or any other file systems.
How to partition external hard disk on Mac?
- Connect the external hard disk to the Mac.
- Click on Disk utility. Select the drive from the left sidebar, then click the Partition tab.
- Under Partition layout, select "2 Partitions."
- The user can adjust the size of the partition based on the desired requirement.
- Once adjusting based on the desired storage requirement, the user will able to choose the preferred operating system (NTFS or APFS) and complete the procedure.
How to partition external hard disk on Windows?
- Plug the external hard drive into your Windows PC.
- Open the Start menu and search for Disk Management.
- Select the search result and the Disk Management utility will launch. In the left sidebar, you should see your hard drive and its partitions
- Select the drive which you want to be made into a partition. Right-click the Windows partition and select Shrink partition.
- In the Format dialog box, under File System, select the desired file system (NTFS). Click OK and complete the format process.
The chances of losing data in this scenario are comparatively high if anything goes wrong in formatting. It is recommended to have a backup of your data before performing this action. If you don’t have a backup you will need a professional hard drive recovery software to recover your lost or formatted data.
Remo hard drive recovery software is one such professional hard drive recovery tool which can easily help you to recover data from your lost or formatted hard disk. The tool supports more than 300 file formats with which you can be sure of recovering files of any format. The tool comes with two types of scan features, Normal scan, and Deep Scan which scans the hard drive sector by sector which ensures hassle-free data recovery.
1. What is Hard format and Quick Format? Is data recovery possible in these scenarios?
- Hard format - A hard format is an option in Windows, which allows the user to format the whole disk/partition. The disadvantages of this feature are that the data residing on this disk is permanently lost and cannot be recovered
- Quick Format - Quick format is a feature in which the Windows allows the user to format the disk or partition. Know more on how to perform quick format and recover data after quick format here.
2. How can I use NTFS on Mac?
A. Yes, you can use NTFS on Mac only in read-only mode and it cannot write or overwrite any of these files.
3. How can I use APFS on Windows?
A. Windows is capable of understanding the file format and can read the APFS, but cannot write or overwrite any of these files.
Molly is the Lead Technical Specialist with distinguished knowledge and understanding of Mac computers and operating systems. Being a veteran photographer and video recovery specialist, Molly’s expertise on video formats and file repair has helped restore a lot of videos and cherished memories of users.
As a technical specialist she also believes in learning and spreading knowledge about the current and trending aspects of various media formats, Adobe Photoshop and macOS troubleshooting. A full-fledged learner, caffeine-lover and a firm-believer that technology would make the world a better place.