Convert Windows External Hard Drive To Mac

The Hard Drives formatted for mac have an HFS+ file system. This file system is specifically for Mac systems and windows can’t read this file system. You can have access to the HFS + file system hard drive on windows with the help of any third party software. There are a number of tools that can help you in this regard. But using a third party all the time for accessing a hard drive on windows is not good. A user has to know how to convert Mac formatted hard drive to Windows formatted.

The Windows system uses a hard drive with a different file system than the Mac systems. Windows-formatted hard drives have either NTFS file system of an FAT32 file system. Thus in order to make the hard drive Windows formatted, you have to convert the file system to NTFS or FAT32. In the further discussion, you will learn how to make a hard drive useful for Windows by changing the formatting of the drive.

I need to use my external hard drive which was formatted on my MacBook on a Windows 7 work computer to view some videos. If I convert my hard drive from Basic to Dynamic will I still be able to view my files on my mac computer. Also do I run the risk of losing the saved files by converting? If you want to transfer files from a Mac to Windows PC and vice versa using an external portable hard drive then you have to have the external drive formatte.

Get a Backup

Before going ahead and formatting your hard drive for Windows, you should get a backup. Formatting of any kind can leave the hard drive totally empty by erasing all your data. There are a number of instances when users lose their important data due to formatting. It is very important to save the integrity of your data on the hard drive.

You can take help of any third party tool to make a backup of your hard drive. Or you may opt to make a normal backup in your external drive or another computer. Make sure you perform all the backup properly, an improper operation may leave the hard drive with error and hard drive may ask for formatting before use. However, data from formatted disk error in Windows can be recovered generally with any good tool.

Taking a proper backup is very important for your data before formatting your hard drive. Some of the most important things to take care of involve using a hard drive carefully during any kind of transfer, installation or formatting.

Delete the Mac Formatted Partition

The first step in this regard should be deleting the Mac partition with HFS + file system. In order to make it possible, you have to run the disk management tool. Here is how to do it:

Right-click on Windows icon, select Disk Management.

Select the Mac drive from the list of drives - Make sure this is the drive you want to work on, if you do it for the Windows formatted drive in the list, it may cost you a lot of important data.

Right Click on the partition and select Delete Volume – This will remove the partition.

Install Windows External Hard Drive

Right click on the space and select New Simple Volume from the list.

Set the file system as NTFS or FAT 32 according to your need.

Delete EFI System Partition

Most of the times the mac drives are formatted with an EFI system partition. This is secure than the simple partition and you can’t right click and format the drive. To format such a partition, you have to go through a complete wipe out of your hard drive. If your Mac drive has an EFI partition, follow the steps to format it:

Go to device management window – As explained in the above section.

Locate your drive partition which has Mac format file system.

Note the disk number from the window

To go to command prompt – Type Run in Search Box on Taskbar and press Enter > Type cmd and press Enter



Go to Windows > Type cmd and press Enter

Type diskpart in the command prompt window and press Enter

Type list disk in the diskpart window and press Enter

Find your disk with the disk number that you have seen initially

Type select disk <disk number> and press Enter

Type Clean and press Enter

This will clean your hard drive all the data will wipe out. Now in order to use this on Windows, you have to designate a file system to the hard drive partitions.

Change External Hard Drive From Windows To Mac Without Losing Data

Assign NTFS File System

Once you have wiped out the content of your disk along with file system that was stopping it from use by Windows. you can go ahead and give a file system to the partitions:

Go to disk management again

Select the Mac disk from the list of drives – It shows Not initialized message in the empty disk.

Right-click on the disk and select Initialize disk

Create a partition for your disk

Right click and select New Simple Volume

Set the file system as NTFS or FAT32 as per your requirement

The drive is now formatted and ready to use in Windows Operating System.

The drive will currently be in FAT32 or NTFS format.
  • Connect the drive to the iMac.
  • It will load on the desktop.
  • Copy any data off the drive.
  • Open Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  • Select the drive in the left hand pane.
  • Choose the 'Erase' tab.
  • Choose +Volume Format+: '+Mac OS Extended (Journalled)+'
  • Press 'Erase...'.

This will delete all data off the drive and whilst in Mac OS Extended (aka HFS+) will not mount on a PC.

Convert Windows External Hard Drive To Mac

Leave in FAT32 for use in Macs and PCs. ('MS-DOS (FAT) ' in Disk Utility).

Hope that helps.


Nov 4, 2007 4:28 PM