MacMost Now 714: Sharing a Drive Between Mac and PC

Learn about the different hard drive formats like Mac OS, NTFS and FAT32. Find out how you can use NTFS drives with a Mac, and Mac OS drives using Windows. See how FAT32 formatted drives can be used to store files accessible to both systems.

Comments: 19 Responses to “MacMost Now 714: Sharing a Drive Between Mac and PC”

    12 years ago

    I am disappointed that you did not spend a little more time on ExFAT. I understand that you need a slightly "newer" OS, but that is not entirely true as you will see.

    ExFAT requirements:

    Mac OS 10.6.5 or above.
    Windows XP/Server 2003 with the required KB 955704 patch (free from Microsoft)
    Windows Vista - built in
    Windows 7 - built in

    ExFAT removes all the limitations from all the older archaic formats. The files size limit is currently not fathomable. In essence there is no limit for what we have available today.

    Second is that it is FULLY READ/WRITE for both Mac and PCs. NTFS is read only on Mac OS and a pain to purchase or download the free NTFS patch. ExFAT is free.

    The issue you list in the video about Mac applications behaving erratically or not at all on certain formats other than HTFS are gone with ExFAT. They work as normal.

    You made a slight error, or not an error, but a statement that needs "enhancing". ExFat is available from Mac OS X 10.6.5 and later. You said Lion. This opens up a lot of additional machines that can utilize this format.

    The only caveat for both Mac and Windows is that you can not create a bootable drive using ExFAT. I know you were not talking about boot drives at all and strictly dealing with data.

    For straight data storage and transfer ExFAT is THE best option to move people towards if their machines meet the requirements listed.

    I am a technician and use a 320GB external mini drive in ExFAT to store all of my installers that are just too large to wait for internet downloads.

    I do keep an old FAT32 formatted USB stick with the Windows XP drivers for ExFAT handy that also has the Mac OS 10.6.5 combo update (or later) for fast updates to use the drive.

    Thanks for the video.

      12 years ago

      Thanks for all the info Andrew! I was kinda hoping someone would step forward who had a lot of experience with ExFAT and give some details. :)

      12 years ago

      10.6.8 was great - format to exFAT, enable network sharing... drag & drop / arrange files via network, unplug that drive, bring it to a windows comp - worked perfect! but now..... the HUGE problem with exFAT (as well as fat32/ntfs) is that our fellow d-bags at Apple seem to have cut network support for these formats starting OSX 10.7; if you know of a work-around, please reply!

    Ed Duffy
    12 years ago

    Great video Gary. As a matter of fact, I do use a flash drive between Windows 7 and Mac OS X machines. However, the majority of the time those files are word documents and Excel or PowerPoint presentations. I also, don't have any issues watching movies I saved on a flash drive between systems. The portion you stated on how to format the flash drive was very helpful. Thanks again.

    12 years ago

    Great info Gary. The info that Andrew provided is new for me and I'll definitely try it the next time I format a drive. I have a 1.5 Tb portable drive and I've partitioned it into 3 drives - one partition for Mac OS, one for FAT 32, and another for Time machine. This lets me use the drive on client MS computers, my Macs, and keep my MacBook backed up. Partitioning a drive on a Mac is so easy, especially compared to MS operating systems.

      12 years ago

      The problem with that setup is how do you keep partitions 1 and 2 backed up?

    12 years ago

    I have a 500gb fujitsu external HD. It's not accessible on my white macbook 2.4GHz intel core 2 duo with snow leopard 10.6.8 unless I reformat. I could not reformat without taking out the HD from the casing thus voiding warranty. I decided to experiment and try ubuntu 10.04.1LTS. Prepared a 30GB MS DOS format partition on the macbook and then booted ubuntu from a usb. Eventually, I am able to share files between formats. Even wrote an article on it.

      12 years ago

      What do you mean by "could not reformat without taking out the HD from the casing" -- I've never heard of that. You can reformat using Disk Utility on a Mac or similar functionality in Windows. You can't need to open up the hardware at all.

        12 years ago

        I`ve tried reformatting my external HD on windows vista before. I think the hardware`s got some sort of restriction. It`s almost full now so a reformat is out of the question.

    12 years ago

    I have a peculiar problem: I have a Mac with a failed internal HDD, so I bought an external (USB) HDD, and installed Lion on it. So my Mac boots and runs from this ext HDD. Now, to enable me to use that HDD with other machines (windows), I split the drive into another partition formatted in exFAT format. If I pull this drive out of the Mac and connect to a PC, both partitions (Mac Lion and exFAT) are readable. But I was hoping to share the exFAT partition over my home network. I have gone through all instructions for sharing Mac with PC. The funny thing is: files on the Mac Lion partition are visible in my Windows machine. The exFAT partition is also visible. But when I click on that partition, it says "... is not accessible. You might not have permission..." (even though I have explicitly given access to that partition via the Mac sharing settings). Any suggestions? (Sorry for the long and complicated story)

      12 years ago

      In the end, you are going to told that this is not a supported setup. Of course there is NO reason to set up an ExFat partition in OSX other than to have a volume accessible to both OSX and Windows, but the moment you tell em that you can't access the drive from Windows, the support ends, and cause of your problem is said to be Windows.

      Your problem is NOT Windows, but OSX. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy nut, Something within OSX deliberately prohibits the access of a local ExFat partition shared over the network ONLY when accessed by Windows PC's. Use another Mac, and you'll have no problems, but again, why would someone use ExFat on a Mac, if not to have the drive accessed by Windows? They wouldn't. So it begs the question, why even have the option in OSX to set up ExFat, if you can't use it as it was intended?

        12 years ago

        I would imagine that most people looking to use ExFAT on a Mac would be doing so to create a transport drive -- one they connect to a Mac, then disconnect and reconnect to a Windows machine.
        It doesn't make much sense to hook a drive up to a Mac formatted as ExFAT and then share that drive. If the drive will be hooked to a Mac, format it for Mac. You can still access it via network sharing. The Mac handles the file transfer, it doesn't matter that it is formatted for Mac as far as the Windows machine is concerned.

    Simon David Allen
    12 years ago

    I'm not sure I'd describe Windows XP as archaic!
    It works - which is more than can be said for Vista,
    and it is not prohibitively expensive, which is more than can be said for W8.

    Most of our PCs are still running XP - it works just fine and we can see no need to change. If I want a workhorse for business programs, XP is fine. If I want an elegant OS then I use my Mac!

    Kika Wai'Alae
    12 years ago

    Ok here is my situation. I have 2 macs, one runs mountain lion the other is running on windows 7. Windows 7 is used to operate a Brothers GT-782 printer which only has a PC driver. I would prefer to use a Mac but donʻt thinks its possible yet. My Macbook Pro is where I create the designs to print using Adobe Photoshop. I just purchased a My Passport external 1TB drive to store and to transport the file to the iMac which also uses Adobe thats running the printer. So from what I read am I correct to format the Passport to ExFAT and that will solve my problem? I looked into the iCloud but I donʻt think windows will upload it there for my MacBook pro to access. Thanks in advance.

      12 years ago

      ExFAT should, yes. Both Mac and Windows can read it. If that doesn't work, try FAT32 which definitely will. You should be able to put files on it from your Mac and then move the drive to your Windows machine and open the files there.
      Another solution would have simply been to run Parallels or VMWare with Windows 7 on your Mac. But if you already own the PC and the drive, then I guess it is too late for that.

    12 years ago

    Gary I just replaced my bad hd in my iMac and when i boot up using snow leopard I cannot see my airport to restore my files. I can see the new HD and my external but no Airport/Time machine. What am I not doing correctly? Thanks

      12 years ago

      Impossible for me to say without being there. Have you gone into your network settings and tried to connect to that network again? There are a lot of things to try.

    11 years ago

    I have a PC at home and at school we use Mac's. I'm in a Typography class and need to bring projects home to work on them. We use Adobe applications such as Photoshop and are presently using Illustrator. I have a 500G external HD that is NTFS and would like to switch it to ExFat. If I do this, can I bring projects home from the Mac and edit them on my PC? Any help would be appreciated.

      11 years ago

      From what I understand, yes. Though I haven't tested it myself. Try it and see.

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