How To: Use Mac-formatted drives in Windows

Mac Drive

If you are reading this guide, you probably already know that PCs and Macs use different file systems. While USB drives are usually formatted in a universal format like FAT32, hard drives are a different story. Most Mac drives are formatted with the HFS+ file system that Windows does not support at all. Of course, we are going to be looking at the methods you can employ to make use of any Mac drive you want to use with Windows.



The simplest tool on this post. It is completely free but comes with some severe limitations. First of all, it can only provide you with read access to the files. You will need to copy them somewhere else in your Windows installation if you want to actually use them. The application will then automatically extract them but that means more space used in your machine. It can read HFS, HFS+ and HFSX file systems. It also needs Java Runtime Environment in order to run.


MacDrive 9

One of the most popular methods of accessing Mac-formatted discs and for good reason. Although you will need to pay to use MacDrive (around $50 for the Standard version) it might be worth it depending on your needs. It supports all OS X file systems, it can read and write to the drives via Windows Explorer and it really works like you have an actual Windows-formatted drive in your computer. Some things are slow but there are tons of features here so you get your money’s worth. A 5-day trial is also available so you can see if the application is right for you.

Formatting the drive

Format Required Windows

If you just have a working Mac drive that you want to install in your Windows PC for one reason or the other, you can always simply format it. This means you will lose all of your files but you will be able to use the drive like any other once you have formatted it to work with Windows with the NTFS file system. Look for our guide on how to format your drives in Windows and in OS X for more information.