How to Access Mac formatted hard disk or thumb drive from a PC

How to Access Mac formatted hard disk or thumb drive from a PC

External hard disks and thumb drives were always popular and will remain so as the easiest and cheapest way to share and carry data. These devices can be accessed by any device. But wait, there is an exception. Sometimes information written on Mac formatted hard disk cannot be accessed by PC. Mac can access details in Windows formatted disk, but with restrictions. Here are the reasons for these restrictions.

Why PC cannot read files from Mac formatted hard disks and thumb drives

Windows operating system and Mac operating system supports different file system. Operating system use the file systems to prepare hard disk to read and write data. That is why you are asked to format hard disk before storing data. Different operating system uses different file systems.

If your Windows PC is not able to recognize an external disk or thumb drive which was formatted using Mac, it is because it uses HFS+ file system. See the reasons below.

File systems supported by the latest Windows operating system are FAT32, NTFS and exFAT. File systems supported by Mac machines are HFS+, NTFS, FAT 32, exFAT, ext2.

  • If the external disk or thumb drive is formatted using NTFS, Mac will be able to view the files inside the disk, but it won’t allow you to delete or modify the contents on the disk. You can copy the content from disk to Mac, but you can’t cut and paste it.
  • If the external disk is formatted using FAT32, you will be able to access and modify data on both Mac and PC. But FAT32 is old file system and lacks security features.
  • If the disk is formatted using HFS+, Windows operating system won’t be able to recognize the contents inside the disk. Windows up until Windows 10 have not added support for HFS+ file system. Windows won’t be able to recognize HFS+ drives and list is unmounted volume.
  • If the disk is formatted using exFAT, Windows and Mac will be able to access data. So if you want your disk to be accessed by both Windows and Mac without any restrictions or with the help of third party software, then format your external disk or thumb drive using exFAT.

How to access Mac formatted hard disk or thumb drive from a PC

MacDrive is a tool that helps in accessing Mac disks from a PC or Windows computer. It works with variety of media including external hard drives and flash drives, CD, DVD etc.

How to Access Mac formatted hard disk or thumb drive from a PC

The software interface is simple and straight forward. There are plenty of options such as repair, burn , create, open in file explorer etc. You can repair the existing file system HFS+, create or burn a disk using the HFS+ file system, optimize the file system. The latest version also allows removing data which are completely unrecoverable.

MacDrive is the best when it comes to accessing HFS+ partition. The paid software cost $49.99 and is considered the best in this category. The trial version can be used for 5 days.

Some of the other software’s in this category are HFSExplorer, MacDisk, Disk Internals Linux Reader, Paragon HFS+ for Windows, TransMac etc.

In short, if you want to make sure the thumb drive or external disk is read by both Mac and PC, format is using exFAT file system.

Use the comment section for further discussion on the subject.

This Article Was Written By

Anup Raman
Anup Raman

I am Anup Raman. A Tech Enthusiast|Blogger|Tech Trainer with 10+ yrs experience in the field of IT. My expertise are in Operating Systems, mainly Windows and Computer security which comes from my experience, working as Tech Support and Trainer for Microsoft, Symantec and McAfee. Loves blogging about Technical Troubleshooting, discussing latest Gadgets, Games and doing Reviews.

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