How can I format on a PC an external hard drive that was previously formatter for use on a Mac?

edwin November 13, 2014

Hi. I’ve an external hard drive that I’ve used on a Mac. Now, I’m trying to format it so that I can use it on PC instead of Mac. Unfortunately, I longer have access to Mac so I have to find a way to format it for the PC.

When I plug in the external hard drive on my pc, ‘new hardware’ box will pop up. However, on the computer menu, it doesn’t recognize the external hard drive.

  1. Jan F.
    November 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    You can try using Disk Management (you can find it via the Start menu search) but I never had a smooth experience re-formatting a 'true' Mac drive (GUID Partition scheme, HFS) using Windows.

    If the external drive is shown with unallocated space you should be able to go ahead and partition it. If it is shown as "blue" (used space) then things can get a bit cumbersome.

    You will have to head into the command prompt and use the tool DiskPart to clean the drive. The entire process is explained in the following article.

    Unlike the article states my experience is that you usually get an "access denied" error or something after using the 'clean' command. If you happen to get an error try running 'clean' again. If it fails a second time just restart your computer and you should be able to format the drive afterwards regardless.

    If you happen to know someone with a Mac I would suggest to take the drive to this person. It is much easier to prepare the drive using OS X Disk Utility:
    select the drive within Disk Utility
    click on the Partition tab
    select 1 Partition, Format as free space (or exFAT if you want that)
    at the bottom click options and change the partition scheme to Master Boot Record
    click Apply

    Now the drive will be "clean" and can easily be formatted within Windows – respectively used right away if you selected exFAT.

  2. ha14
    November 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    External Drive Not Recognized? This Is How To Fix It In Windows
    scroll to Partitioning and Formatting the Drive
    format to NTFS

    1) Open CMD with administrative rights. In the CMD window, type in Each Command and Press Key as follows:
    -list disk
    -select disk 0
    -clean all (Will Take a While)
    -create partition primary align=1024
    -format fs=ntfs (Will Take a While)

    easeus partition master home