Format USB Flash Drives to Work With Both Mac and Windows 7 by Jack Scicluna Photography, LLC - guest writer. The latest trend with computers is not including a CD/DVD drive.

HomeHow ToWindowsHow to Format USB Drive for Mac & PC

If you play for both teams, meaning you use both a Mac and Windows computer, it can sometimes be troublesome to have to deal with the constant lack of cross platform resources. This, on top of the fact that many external tools for Mac computers aren’t compatible with Windows computers, and vice versa, makes the experience all the more distressing. However, if you need to work with a hard drive or USB flash disk, you’re in luck.

You can actually format a hard drive or USB flash disk, so that it will be compatible with both Mac OS X and Windows PC computers. This capability is surprisingly unknown to many users, despite the fact that the process itself is very easy to carry out. If you use both Windows PC computers and Mac computers, you’ll find this process extremely helpful as any data, files, or storage items stored on your drive will easily and always be accessible from any operating system.

This process will only take a few minutes of your time, and is fairly easy to carry out. However, please be aware that when you format a drive, all the content and data on that drive will be erased. You should therefore, back up and save your important files before you begin this process. Once you’ve done that, and are ready to format your drive for Mac and Windows PC compatibility, follow the instructions below.

Format Drive for Mac and Windows PC Compatibility Using Disk Utility

Lucky for you, this process will work with any hard drive, flash drive, USB drive, SSD, or anything else of the like, that is accepted by both Mac and Windows PC machines. You’ll be able to format the drive for Mac and Windows compatibility, with read and write support. In order to get started and carry out this process on your Mac OS X, follow the instructions below.

1. Launch Disk Utility.

2. Please connect the drive you would like to format for dual compatibility, to your Mac.

3. The drive name will then appear on the left windowpane in Disk Utility. Please click on the drive name.

4. Click on the Erase tab.

5. Click on the Format drop-down menu.

6. Select MS-DOS (FAT).

7. You may, also at this point, feel free to give your drive a name, using the Name text field, underneath Format.

8. Click on the Erase button on the bottom right of the window, in order to format the drive for Mac and Windows PC compatibility.

That’s all it takes. You’ve now formatted your drive for Mac and Windows PC compatibility. Drives usually tend to format in a short amount of time, however, the process may be time consuming, depending on the size of the drive. Please keep in mind that by formatting a drive, you’ll erase all of the data on that drive.

If you wish to use your drive with older versions of Windows PC or wish to boot the drive on PC, you’ll need to set the partition scheme to Master Boot Record. This will give you full Windows compatibility. To do this you’ll need to,

1. Click on the drive name.

2. Click on the Partition tab.

3. Using the drop-down menu for Partition Layout, select 1 Partition.

4. Click Options.

5. Choose Master Boot Record as the partition type.

6. Click on OK.

Format Usb For Mac And Pc On Windows 10

Format Usb For Mac And Pc On Windows

7. Click on Apply.

You’ve now set your drive to have full Windows compatibility. Your drive will now be able to read and write on both a Mac computer and Windows PC.

If you've switched to the Mac, welcome aboard. Your old external Windows PC drive will work great on the Mac. Apple has built OS X Yosemite and some previous OS X releases with the ability to read from those disks just fine. If you're using such a drive and you'd like to write new data to them, you'll find you can't unless you add new software. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a dime.

Switch to Mac


Every week our Peter Cohen brings you Switch to Mac — a column to help you move from Windows PC to the Mac and OS X!

One option is to back up your old Windows external drive (using Time Machine or another method). Reformat the drive using Apple's Disk Utility software and the company's HFS+ file system instead. Then you can restore the backed up data to the drive.

Even if the backed up and restored files originally came from a PC, they'll be stored on the drive using a file system the Mac fully understands. That way the drive will be fully Mac-compatible without any need for you to modify the operating system of the Mac to get it to work properly.


Format Usb Drive Windows And Mac

Obviously that solution doesn't work for everyone. Maybe the drive you're using has to be used with a PC occasionally. Whatever the case, the good news is that it's not a show-stopper: There are a few utilities out there that will enable Macs to write to mounted NTFS volumes.

Tuxera's NTFS for Mac is one of the best ways to do it. It uses smart caching to keep data transfer as fast as possible and works with every OS X version since 10.4 (Tiger). NTFS for Mac costs $31, and you can download a demo first to see how it does.

Reformat Thumb Drive On Mac

Paragon Software's NTFS for Mac 12 is another excellent choice. It includes several additional utilities for people who need to tinker or repair, to enable you to format drives with NTFS, check NTFS partition integrity, fix errors, and more. NTFS for Mac costs $19.95.

If you're a DIYer and you'd like to go the free route, you'll find a Sourceforge project called NativeNTFS-OSX that gets the job done. NativeNTFS isn't for rookies: It's a bash script that needs to run from the Terminal command line and requires you to have root (administrator) access to your computer.

An easier way to go is to download OS X Fuse, a third-party software tool that extends the Mac's file system capabilities. Follow the directions on the OS X Fuse website to download and configure the software. Follow the instructions to download NTFS-3G for Mac OS X, whose development seems stopped right now but still works in Yosemite. Once OS X Fuse and NTFS-3G are installed, your Mac should be able to read and write to NTFS disks just fine.

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