How to Format External Hard Drive for Mac and PC

Take your flash drive with you everywhere! This easy guide will show you how to format it for both Mac and PC.

Assuring that an external hard drive works seamlessly on both Mac and PC systems requires a few steps. If you want to Format External Hard Drive for Mac and PC, you can format many external drives that come pre-formatted for Windows. For this, exFAT is a common file system that works with both Windows and macOS.

Attach the external hard drive to your Mac first. Launch Disc Utility, pick out the external drive, and select “Erase.” There, choose “exFAT” as the file system format and continue with the formatting. For easy file sharing and access across platforms, the drive can be used with both Mac and PC computers after being formatted.

Making sure you have a backup of any important files is very important, because formatting the drive will erase all the data on it. While using a properly formatted external hard drive, users can easily move and store data between their Mac and PC computers.

How to Format External Hard Drive for Mac and PC

Using Disk Management

  1. Start up Disc Management on your HP PC.
  2. Right-click on the empty space on the drive and choose “New Simple Volume.”
  3. After following the on-screen prompts to pick a volume size and letter, click “Next.”
  4. Choose exFAT as the file system and type a name for the volume under “Volume label.”
  5. Click “Next” and “Finish.” Then make sure “Perform a quick format” is checked.

Using Settings

  1. Navigate to Settings on your Windows 11 system.
  2. Proceed to System > Storage > Advanced storage settings.
  3. Click on the drive you wish to format, then select Properties.
  4. Select a format.
  5. In the Label field, enter the desired name for the drive.
  6. For File System, choose exFAT.
  7. Click on Format, ensuring that Perform a quick format is checked.

Using File Explorer

  1. Right-click on the drive you want to format in “This PC” (My Computer) and choose “Format.”
  2. Under “File system,” choose “exFAT.” Under “Volume,” name the drive.
  3. Check the box next to “Quick Format” and press “Start.”

Benefits of Formatting an External Hard Drive for Mac and PC

  • Universal Access: When you format with a format that works with both Mac and PC, like exFAT, you can read and write data without any problems. This gets rid of the need for extra drives or software hacks.
  • Better Performance: Formatting the drive can sometimes make it work better with a certain operating system, which could mean faster read and write speeds.
How to Format External Hard Drive for Mac and PC
  • Better security: Some file formats, like NTFS, have encryption features that protect data even more. This is helpful if more than one person is using the same drive.
  • Configurable Partitioning: When you format a drive, you can make multiple partitions, each with its own format and permissions for access. This could be useful for sorting data or keeping private data separate.

Tips for Successful Formatting

Picking Out the Best File System:

  • The exFAT format is the most compatible; it works on both Mac and PC, but files can only be 4GB in size.
  • The FAT32 file system is older and works with most devices, but files can only be 4GB in size.
  • When it comes to Windows, NTFS is good for large files, but Mac users need to use third-party software to read them.
  • The modern Mac format APFS can’t be read on Windows.

Some extra tips:

  • Make sure all of your important data is safely backed up before you start.
  • Pick out the correct format: Think about what you need in terms of compatibility and file size limits.
  • Wait, because formatting can take a while, depending on how fast and how big the drive is.


Can you format an external hard drive for both Mac and PC?

In Disk Utility, you can format an external disk that you can use with both a Microsoft Windows-based computer and a Mac. For example, you might want to do this if you use a flash drive to store data files you need to use on your Mac at home and when using a Windows-based computer at school or the public library.

Is exFAT faster than NTFS?

NTFS is faster as an internal drive file system. It consistently outperforms exFAT efficiency and uses fewer system resources. However, exFAT acts faster when used as the file system for external drives as the read/write speeds are handled differently over USB connections and between operating systems.

Can Mac read NTFS?

Currently, macOS can read and display the content in NTFS formatted external hard drives or USB drives. However, as NTFS format is read-only for Mac, you can’t do anything to the NTFS formatted drives except for readying on Mac.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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