Access Mac External Hard Drive From Pc

Nov 20, 2021 Using an external drive, you can save space on your Mac, though it might. You’ll Be Using A Piece Of Software Called Disk Utility. Software that is part of your Mac’s. Macrumors 6502a. I'm not sure if you'd be able to do it from an external drive, but it is possible to boot OS X on a PC. Feb 01, 2021 If you need to recover a Mac hard drive on Windows, these are the five best choices to use. Retrieve Files from an HFS+ Hard Drive. Software recovery tools can help you access the information on your Mac HDD, take the information to the cloud or onto another system, and transfer it over to your PC. To use HFSExplorer, connect your Mac-formatted drive to your Windows PC and launch HFSExplorer. Click the “File” menu and select “Load File System From Device.”. It will automatically locate the connected drive, and you can load it. You’ll see the contents of the HFS+ drive in the graphical window. Since I do not have a mac to use the external drive with, is there any way that I can access the information without another macbook, I used a friend's macbook air and I was able to access the drive the way I used to with my mac, is there a way the decryption can be taken off without deleting the encrypted data(in my understanding it cant be. Jan 18, 2018 To make a Mac act as an external hard disk, you can put it in Target Disk Mode and connect it to another Mac with a FireWire or Thunderbolt cable, as follows: Note: Target Disk Mode is available on most recent Macs; however, computers that do not have FireWire or Thunderbolt ports are excluded. Shut down the computer you want to use as an.

Summary :

If you connect a drive formatted in Mac to a Windows PC, you’ll be prompted to format it before use. That is to say, you are not allowed to view anything saved on it before formatting. But the question is: if you click Format disk, your data will be ruined. This post from MiniTool will introduce several useful ways to help you with that; please read carefully.

Access Mac External Hard Drive From Pc

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Can You Read Mac Drive on Windows

Many people doubt that whether they can read Mac drive on Windows. Some took action: they removed the drive from Mac and connected it to a Windows PC properly. But after connecting the Mac-formatted drive to Windows, a prompt window will pop up automatically on the screen, saying that they need to format the disk before use.

Don’t Format the Drive

You should click Cancel instead of Format disk when seeing this prompt. Why? That is simply because the formatting action will damage your data saved on that drive. Is there any other way to read a Mac-formatted drive on Windows? Sure, it is; some effective ways used by other users will be shown to you later on this page.

What Does Formatting a Hard Drive Do

Some users said they clicked on the Format disk button by mistake when seeing the prompt window mentioned above; they were wondering if there’s any way to help them recover a formatted hard drive. Luckily, the answer is yes.

What does disk formatting mean?

Formatting a hard disk/drive refers to delete all the file & folders save on a drive and set a certain file system for it. The formatting action is performed to prepare a data storage device (including hard disk drive, solid-state drive, USB flash drive, and SD card) for initial use. Two of the most obvious results of formatting a hard disk are: deleting data and changing file system.

Besides, there are also other benefits of disk formatting:

  • Get more space on disk.
  • Solve disk problems caused by soft failure.
  • Improve disk/system performance greatly.
  • And so on.

Do you know how to improve Windows 10 performance effectively?

It’s necessary to improve Windows 10 performance effectively since various problems will occur inevitably on a system that has been used for a long time.

Recover Formatted Hard Drive

The first and the most important thing to do after formatting a hard drive is to recover precious data from hard drive. MiniTool Power Data Recovery can be a good data recovery assistant: it’s clean, safe, and professional. Please free download the trial edition to experience this data recovery tool first before you decide to buy it; after that, double click on the setup program to finish installing the software on your Windows computer, on which the Mac hard drives are formatted.

Follow this guide to recover data from Mac formatted external hard drives:

  1. Click Start now at the end of installation to launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery. You can also open it by double clicking on the software icon.
  2. Wait for a few seconds until the disk loading process is finished automatically.
  3. Select Devices from the top of the software pane.
  4. Choose the formatted Mac drive under it.
  5. Double click on the target drive directly or click on the Scan button.
  6. The full scan will be started at once; more and more files and folders will be found during the scan. Please make sure the Mac hard drive is always connected to your computer.
  7. Browse the found items carefully to decide which files are needed and which are not; add a checkmark into the square box in from of all the files you want to recover. If you can’t confirm, go to view the content before recovery by clicking Preview.
  8. Click on the Save button in the lower right corner.
  9. Select a storage path in the pop-up window to store the files waiting to be recovered; please make sure it has enough free space left. (You shouldn’t select the original Mac-formatted drive as the storage location in order to avoid secondary damage.)
  10. Click on the OK button in the same window to confirm your selection.
  11. Then, wait until all the files saved on Mac hard drive have been recovered successfully to appointed place. A prompt window will show up to inform you of the recovery result.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery is also a great tool for recovering formatted SD card or broken/corrupted USB stick.

After the data recovery process has been completed, you may transfer back the recovered files to the formatted disk as long as you can confirm that you’ve got back all the files you need.

What about Windows 10 read Mac drive? Please read the following sections.

Can a Mac external drive be read on a PC?

A lot of people are wondering whether they can read Mac drive on Windows 10 with freeware. In fact, there is both free and paid software to help people read Mac drive on PC easily, without formatting the disk. I’ll introduce some of the useful software you can use on Windows 10 to read files and folders from Mac-formatted drive.

Note: Choice 1 ~ 3 is suitable for reading HFS & HFS+; choice 4 ~ 5 is used to read APFS on Windows.

Choice 1: HFSExplorer

HFSExplorer is completely free; it’s a basic application designed to help users read Mac-formatted hard disks and disk images. HFSExplorer gives support to various file systems: HFS (the Standard file system on Mac), HFS+ (the Extended file system on Mac OS), HFSX (the Extended Mac OS file system with case sensitive file names), etc.

What Does HFSExplorer Allow You to Do

  • Browse volumes on Mac by using a graphical file system browser.
  • Check the volume related information.
  • Extract files you need (copy files to Windows hard disk free).
  • Mount & read disk images like .dmg and .sparsebundle.
  • Create disk images from the volume on Mac.

The partition schemes including Master Boot Record, GUID Partition Table, and Apple Partition Map are supported by HFSExplorer.


You need to install Java first if you don’t have it on your PC since it’s required (Sun's Java SE runtime environment version 5.0 or greater in which OpenJDK works fine).

HFSExplorer: Launch error

No Java runtime environment found. HFSExplorer cannot function without Java.

Press “OK” to open up where you can download a Java runtime environment for your system.

You should just click OK as prompted to download & install proper runtime environment when seeing the window above.

How to Use HFSExplorer to Read Mac Hard Drive on Windows

HFSExplorer is a good tool to help you read your Mac-formatted drive on your Windows PC.

  1. Connect the Mac-formatted drive to Windows 10 PC.
  2. Run HFSExplorer as administrator.
  3. Select File from the menu bar.
  4. Choose Load file system from device
  5. Click Autodetect to load the connected hard drive.
  6. Choose the files & folders you want to view in the HFS+ drive.
  7. Click Extract in the graphical window.
  8. Select a folder as the destination.
  9. Expand the folder to read Mac drive files on a Windows 10 PC.


  • HFS/HFS+/HSFX partitions can all be detected by using HFSExplorer.
  • You can also Select a device or Specify device name manually in step 5.

Access Hard Drive On Mac

If the connected external hard drive is not showing up on PC, you can’t detect it in step 5. You must make it appear in Windows first.

Is there any other hard drive reader for Windows? Of course, yes; please move on.

Choice 2: Apple HFS+ Drivers

Another way to access HFS + files in Windows 10 for free is installing Apple HFS + drivers.

Tip: The Apple HFS + drivers only give you read access to the files in Mac-formatted drives.

Steps to Read Mac Drives on PC with Apple HFS + Drivers

First, you should make sure you don’t have Paragon or MacDrive (the hard drive readers I will talk about later) on your Windows computer. If you do, please remove them now.

Second, you should download the correct Windows driver package to your local drive.

Third, you should configure your Windows as follow.

  1. Go to the default download path (Downloads folder) to extract the downloaded zip file.
  2. Find AppleHFS.sys and AppleMNT.sys files.
  3. Copy them by pressing Ctrl + C (you can also do it by right clicking & choosing Copy).
  4. Go to this path: C:WindowsSystem32drivers.
  5. Copy them by pressing Ctrl + V (you can also right click on any blank area & choose Paste).
  6. Navigate to the downloaded folder to find Add_AppleHFS.reg file.
  7. Open the .reg file to bring up a Registry Editor prompt window.
  8. Click on the Yes button and then click OK.
  9. Restart your computer to make changes take effect.

Best Hard Drive For Macbook Pro

Fourth, you should connect the Mac-formatted drive to your PC -> open File Explorer (also called Windows Explorer) -> locate that drive under This PC -> access files you want.

Tip: You may find the File Explorer has stopped working or not responding when trying to open it; please don’t be nervous since this problem can be fixed.

Choice 3: HFS+ for Windows

Though the Paragon HFS+ for Windows is a paid hard driver reader, you’ll love it after using.

What Can Paragon HFS+ for Windows Do for You

  • The speed is fast and the performance is stable.
  • The Mac file systems are integrated into Windows File Explorer.
  • It provides full read and write access to Mac drives formatted with HFS, HFS +, and HFSX (just like other drives in Windows).
  • It allows Windows programs to read from or write to the Mac-formatted drive on Windows.
  • There are additional features that worth the cost.

How Much Does It Cost

The Paragon HFS+ for Windows is sold on the official website for $19.95 with a single seat license; $49.95 with one license worked on 3 PCs.

If you don’t want to spend money in reading Mac drive on Windows, you should download the trial edition; it is free for use for 10 days. You can access, copy files from or to the Mac drive during this period; it’s enough.

Choice 4: MacDrive

If your Mac drive is formatted with APFS (Apple File System), you won’t be able to read Mac hard drive on Windows because there are no free apps designed for it. But you have many choices of paid applications to access & edit Mac drive files on Windows; MacDrive is a popular one designed by Mediafour.

Merits of MacDrive

  • It is used to help users read data from and write data to Mac disks from Windows directly.
  • You can read both APFS and HFS+ drives in File Explorer.
  • It allows you to create and partition Mac disks on your Windows.
  • A graphical interface is offered for Mac-formatted drives verification, format, and repair.
  • It’s a trusted solution which can date back to 1996.

The only drawback of MacDrive seems to be the selling price is higher than some similar tools. You need to pay $49.99 for the Standard version or $69.99 for the Pro version.

Is it worth the price? Yes, if you have such needs; it also includes unique features like support for Mac-formatted RAID disks.

Choice 5: Paragon APFS for Windows

Paragon also designed an APFS for Windows app for reading APFS Mac drive on Windows; it is considered as one of the main competitors of MacDrive.

Features of Paragon APFS for Windows

  • It provides read and write access to Mac drives formatted with APFS.
  • It also allows you to access and edit compressed and cloned files (you can only access the encrypted volumes without making any changes).
  • It gives support to auto-mounting at start-up; the partition tools of MacDrive are not included in this app.

The biggest disadvantage of Paragon APFS for Windows when compared to MacDrive is the HFS+ support. The biggest advantage of Paragon APFS for Windows over MacDrive is the price – it costs only $49.95 for one license worked on 3 PCs.

Of course, there are many other tools available for you to read Mac drives on Windows (10/8/7, etc.).

Choice 6: Format Drive to exFAT

You can format your Mac hard drive to exFAT, which supports both Windows and Mac OS X. In this way, you can get full read and write access to exFAT drives on Windows without any additional third-party software.

The only thing you need to worry is that the data on Mac drives will be removed. So you need to turn to MiniTool Power Data Recovery as mentioned in part 1 to recover the files you need after formatting.

How to format a hard drive? Basically, there are three ways.

  • Right click on the drive in File Explorer -> choose Format.
  • OpenDisk Management -> right click on the target drive -> choose Format.
  • Format Partition with MiniTool Partition Wizard – a professional disk manager.

Final Thoughts

Though you can’t access a Mac-formatted drive on a Windows computer directly, there are useful ways and tools to help you read Mac drive on Windows easily. Please just follow the steps mentioned above and choose the tool depending on your needs.

Your Mac not recognizing an external hard drive can be cause for panic. But try to remain calm — it’s unlikely that anything has happened to your files. All of your data will still be on the hard drive, it just that, for whatever reason, you can’t access it.

Just so that you worry not about losing data, get Disk Drill. Available via Setapp, the app is the best tool that will rescue your files.

Download Disk Drill Free

Fortunately, there are ways and means of getting the hard drive back up and running. Let’s get into some of them right now.

Why a flash drive is not showing up on Mac?

If you’ve plugged in a flash drive or USB drive and it’s not showing up on your Mac at all, it could be down to a faulty cable or USB port.

Before you try any system troubleshooting tips, start with the basics.

  • Check that the drive is probably plugged in.
  • Check the USB connector — does it look damaged or misshapen in any way?
  • Check the cable — is it frayed or are there any wires exposed?
  • If the external hard drive is plugged into a wall outlet, try a different outlet.
  • Try a different USB cable — even cables with no visible defects can fail.
  • Try connecting the hard drive to a different USB port — it could be a hardware issue.
  • Try the drive in another Mac — if it works there, the problem is with the USB ports on your Mac.
  • Test the hard drive on a PC — it could be formatted for PCs and not readable on Macs.
  • Reboot your Mac — a simple on and off is sometimes all it takes.
  • Reboot USB drives by shutting down your system and restarting it, holding Command+Option+P+R as you do. When you hear a sound and see the screen flash, release the keys and let your Mac boot up as usual.

Tip: If you want your Flash drive to be readable both on Windows and on Mac, you should format it as exFAT.

If you’ve carried out visually inspections, tested your hard drive with different cables and power outlets, and tried different systems with no luck, it’s time to put your Mac to work.

1. Change the Finder settings

One of the most common reasons for Mac not recognizing external hard drives is due to the system not being set up to display hard drives on the desktop. There’s a simple fix for this:

  1. Open a Finder window.
  2. Go to Preferences > General.
  3. Check that the External disks option is enabled.

If your Mac is not recognizing a USB or external hard drive after this, you’ll have to try mounting it manually.

2. Mount an external hard drive on Mac

If Mac isn’t automatically recognizing your external hard drive, it’s time to force it to. Connect your hard drive and follow these instructions:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Disk Utility.
  2. Check that the external disk is listed in the left sidebar.
  3. Highlight your hard drive and select Mount. It should now appear under devices in the Finder.

If the hard drive still isn’t playing ball, the next step is First Aid.

3. Run First Aid on an external hard drive

Mac’s built-in First Aid tool is designed to verify and repair a range of issues related to corrupted files and apps, startup issues, and, crucially, external hard drive problems.

If your issue has to do with wanting to know how to open a flash drive on Mac that’s displaying but not allowing you access to files, First Aid might be able to help.

  1. Go to System Preferences > Disk Utility.
  2. Highlight your external hard drive and click on First Aid.
  3. Select Run to start running diagnostics and prompt Mac to automatically fix any issues.

If First Aid is successful in repairing any faults, your hard drive should be available to mount. If not, you’ll need to try the next option.

Tip: There is a small possibility that your Mac's USB ports are working well. To check it, try connecting the drive via a powered USB hub.

4. Repair disk permissions

Disk permissions keeps your files secure. Every file and folder has an associated set of permissions. Unfortunately, these can get messed up without you realising it, which can cause serious problems. You can fix these two ways. Either manually, as we mention in this article, or using the popular Mac maintenance tool, CleanMyMac X, which is far easier.

All you need to do is:

  1. Download the free version of CleanMyMac X (this app is notarized by Apple)
  2. Click on Maintenance from the left sidebar menu.
  3. Check the box next to Repair Disk Permissions.
  4. Click Run.

The program will scan and fix any it finds that are broken or faulty. Your Mac should be running as good as new.

To prevent an external hard drive not showing up on Mac turning into an all-out disaster, always backup files on your system hard drive and in the cloud. Anytime you use an external drive, unmount the disk properly and store it safely. And finally, use CleanMyMac to uninstall apps and run regular Maintenance on your system to prevent applications conflicting with hard drive performance.

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5. Delete potentially conflicting apps

Browse Mac Hard Drive

How recent is the problem? If a flash drive not showing up on Mac was completely fine a few days earlier there could be an app causing conflict. If you’ve downloaded any new apps recently, uninstall them one at a time, connecting your hard drive after each uninstallation to see if the issue is resolved.

You can delete apps using the Launchpad or by dragging them to the Trash, but neither method is recommended in this situation. You see, while an app might appear to be deleted, associated files will be left on your system — files that could be preventing access to your external hard drive.

Mac External Disk Drive

Instead, let CleanMyMac X take care of it. CleanMyMac X has an Uninstaller tool that can define your installed applications and associated files and remove every trace of an unwanted app.

Mac External Hard Drive Format

And it couldn’t be easier to use.

  1. Launch the app and select Uninstaller.
  2. Click on View All Applications and select a recently installed app.
  3. Click Uninstall.

Best External Hard Drive For Macbook Pro

If you’ve worked through all recently installed apps and are still no further forward, your hard drive may have crashed or, worse, be completely broken. In this case, you’ll need a heavy duty tool like Disk Drill to rescue files.