How can I read a Mac formatted external hard drive in Windows?
Question by 9e878530346b566861393a7782ad8216 /

I had a MacBook, which I connected the WD external hard drive to, but now I don’t have a MacBook anymore. So I tried connecting it to my old computer (Windows), but it wouldn’t appear on the computer screen.
How to fix?

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Answers (12)
  • deaf_strings

    You can use a application called “Transmac” to read and open (even copy/paste) your Mac OSX formatted external hard disk on a Windows computer. Its free of cost.

  • Mike

    Hi, I know the thread is old, but this just happened to me and I’m traveling abroad so I was completely distraught to not know if my hard drive was fubar’ed with all my pics and such when the motherboard on my macbookpro went pop. Bought tiny Acer netbook and was able to download the HSFExplorer software. The Java stuff was a PITA to download and get right for some reason, but not being completely savvy with peecees likely caused some of that frustration.

    I field stripped the macbookpro, slapped the drive in a spare enclosure and did a little good juju dance before plugging it in. It worked and the data survived!

    The drive does not automatically pop up in the program’s window: you have to tell the program to ‘load from device’ under the ‘file’ pulldown.

    The other software that worked for me was TransMac ( It’s not free by any means at $48 USD, but it’s interface is more friendly and intuitive (thought dated looking, but when you are distraught about your data the working/intuitive gui is by far more important than the shiny baubles of the gui) and that might be worth alot to some.

    I also tried MacDrive ( but it would not run on my netbook for some reason or another and since it costs a tiny bit more than TransMac I didn’t bother pursuing the ‘why’ of it.
    Cheers and good luck out there!

    • Tina

      Thanks for adding everything you tried, Mike! Hopefully this will help someone else.

  • Alex Schnapps

    Almost all of the program to the hdd maintenance from Paragon, can read HFS.
    And some, Partition Manager 12 Professional, can safely convert HFS into NTFS.

  • Bodi Hemanth

    thanks for you’r post i am having the same problem

  • Kavita

    you can read them normally…u cant just write them…for that u’ll need a third party software…i know 1 but its not free :P

  • Dimal Chandrasiri

    if you don’t use any Mac now, use a format converting utility and convert it to a windows friendly driver format! that’ll do!

  • Ahmed Khalil

    For FAT32
    Read/Write FAT32 from both native Windows and native Mac OS X.
    No individual file larger than 4GB.

    Read/Write NTFS from native Windows.
    Read only NTFS from native Mac OS X
    To Read/Write NTFS from Leopard: Install MacFUSE and NTFS-3G. You can install both with NTFS-3G for Mac OS X.
    To Read/Write NTFS from Snow Leopard: Guide: Enable native NTFS Read/Write in Snow Leopard
    (Be aware that some are of the opinion that enabling native NTFS in SL is unstable/unreliable, and favor the MacFuse/NTFS-3G method for Snow Leopard)

    Read/Write HFS from native Mac OS X
    To Read/Write HFS from Windows, Install MacDrive
    To Read HFS (but not Write) from Windows, Install HFSExplorer


  • Alan Wade

    There are a couple of solutions to your problem here:

  • Mike

    Most likely the hard disk is formatted in the OS X native format HFS+.

    If you just want to retrieve some files from it you can use HFS Explorer

    If you want to fully use it one option would be to install a HFS filesystem driver on Windows e.g. the one from Paragon

    However, overall I suggest to backup the entire drives content (using either option), then reformat it within Windows as exFAT and then put all the files back. This way you can fully use it on either operating system in the future.

  • HLJonnalagadda

    First check what file system the drive has been formatted in. Usually, the drive works on both Mac and WIndows. I use Lion and Win7 and my drive works fine on both. Even I have a WD device. So if it is not showing in the drive menu, go to the device manager and check if it is actually connecting to the system. Try connecting to a different USB hub if it is still not being shown.

    • Bruce Epper

      Many drive manufacturers sell drives that are preformatted with HFS+ (WD was the first one I noticed doing it) and labeled as a Mac specific device which is probably the case with our OP. In this case, Mike’s solutions below are the most effective way of dealing with it.