I Want to Format the External Hard Drive to Use the Files on Mac and Windows, How to Do It?

I recently purchased a new LaCie external hard drive and want to transport it between my home and workplace. I need them readable and writable from my Mac and Windows PC. What file system should I format to?

Best Answered by

Roxanne· Answered on Sep 15, 2023

Most external hard drives use NTFS by default, while the default file system for Macs is typically APFS. Let's discuss what file systems are compatible with Mac and PC:

  • exFAT: Both Mac and Windows computers can read and write on this file system without file size limitation.
  • FAT32: This format can work on Mac and Windows computers but can only support 4 GB file size.
  • NTFS: Windows only supports NTFS, while Mac cannot read NTFS external hard drives.

Although Mac and Windows can use FAT32 and exFAT, FAT32 will not allow files larger than 4GB. Based on the information above, we can conclude that exFAT is our best choice. I will introduce two methods to help you format your external hard disk on a Mac or Windows PC.

Method 1. Format the Drive on Windows

Since Windows can only read the NTFS drive and not allow users to format it to other file systems in Disk Management, EaseUS Partition Master can cover you in such cases with its "Format" tool effortlessly.

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Refer to the specific guide on how to format NTFS to exFAT using EaseUS Partition Master:

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master on a Windows PC, right-click the external hard drive you want to format, and select the "Format" utility.

Step 2. Assign the new partition label, file system (exFAT), and cluster size to the selected external hard drive, then click "OK." (In the Warning window, press "Yes" to confirm.)

Step 3. Find and choose the "Execute 1 Task(s)" > "Apply" tab to begin the format action.

Method 2. Format the Drive on Mac

You can use the built-in tool, Disk Utility, to convert the external hard drive file system to exFAT. Here is a post that contains the how-to guide:

Read More: How to Format USB to exFAT on Mac.

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