Skip navigation

Changing Hard Drive Format from NTFS to Mac Compatible

4822 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: May 26, 2012 4:36 AM by Mumith RSS
Mumith Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
May 25, 2012 11:35 AM



I have a hard drive which I used to use on my Windows computer, and is in NTFS format, so I can only read files on it with my MacBook.


How can I change the format so that I can write files to the hard drive with my MacBook. The hard drive has its own programs such as unlocking the hard drive etc so I don't want to remove/damage those files. The hard drive is a Western Digital My Passport.


MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7)
  • Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 25, 2012 11:42 AM (in response to Mumith)

    Do you need to use the drive with Windows PCs as well as with your Mac?  If so then format it to FAT32 or exFAT using a Windows PC.  You will probably find that the programs for unlocking the drive require it to be formatted to NTFS, so if you need to change the formatting of the drive you will almost certainly lose that functionality.


    If you only need to use the drive with your Mac then use Disk Utility which you can find in Applications -> Utilities and format it to 'Mac OS Extended (Journaled)'.  Again the drive specific programs won't work.


    In both cases remember to back up all your files first as formatting a drive erases all data on it!!!

  • Niel Level 10 Level 10 (235,095 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 25, 2012 11:42 AM (in response to Mumith)

    Install software such as Paragon NTFS on the computer.



  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 25, 2012 12:37 PM (in response to Mumith)

    Remove all the data on the drive to another drive.


    Right click and format the drive on the oldest PC your going to be using it with, usually XP.


    Use exFAT for any +4GB sized files and FAT32 (-4GB sized files) but for best compatability with anything, including consoles and other things.


    For XP there is a free download for exFAT from Microsoft if it's not already installed.



    You can choose to format the drive on the Mac, however it's better done on the PC


    Select the entire drive on the left (pick the drive makers name and size) then Partiton: Option: MBR and Format: exFAT or MSDOS (FAT32)


    Drives, partitions, formatting w/Mac's + PC's



    Once the drive is formatted you can return the data, including the programs. The drive will now work well with Mac's or PC's of XP-Win 7 and there is no need for problematic paid software to have a license to use/access the NTFS format.

  • Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)

    Nope, that's the way to do it.  However, turn off 'quick format' and let it take a few minutes to format it properly - esp if you want to use it with the Mac.  Leave everything else as-is except the File System Format - select exFAT or FAT32.

  • Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)

    Yup, apart from turning off 'quick format'.  Incidentally, which version of Windows are you using?  FAT32 should be there.

  • Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)

    It's fine!  You're over-thinking this.  Just go for it!!!  You can always do it again if you want to change something.

  • Zyriab Level 4 Level 4 (3,295 points)

    You're welcome!  Hope everything's okay.

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)

    Mumith wrote:


    File System: NTFS (Default) (selected) or exFAT is the other option


    Select exFAT is good, Microsoft in Windows 7 is  eliminating the older FAT32 because of the 4GB file size limit.


    Win 7 can use GUID partition maps (like a Mac does) and the newer exFAT format.


    You only problem would be connecting that drive to a XP machine, which can't read GUID, only the older MBR partition map scheme.


    But between the Win 7 and Mac it's not a problem with that drive.




    Test the drive with the Mac for some time before removing the data off the Win 7 machine.




    Quick format doesn't erase the data on the drive, uncheck the Quick format and the drive is erased (takes longer) and formatted better (in my opinion) as the drive is checked for errors.


    Apple doesn't have such a thing, we have to use Disk Utility Erase with the Zero option (one step from the right) to perform the basic same function on Mac's when doing the long format.


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (0)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.