Mac Windows

6 Ways to Read Mac-Formatted Drives on Windows

Dan Price Updated 03-01-2019

Need to read Mac drives in Windows?


Unfortunately, it’s not a straightforward process; you can’t just connect the Mac drive and expect it to work. Here’s everything you need to know to get it working.

Why Can’t Windows Read Mac Drives?

Windows and macOS use different file systems. Windows uses the NTFS file system for its internal drives, whereas Apple replaced HFS+ with its successor—Apple File System (APFS)—in early 2017. Today, APFS is used on Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs.

External hard disks and USB drives are generally formatted with the Windows FAT32 file system for maximum compatibility. Most devices, including Macs, can read and write from FAT32 devices. There’s even a way to make a Mac read an NTFS drive Write To Your NTFS Drives Again in OS X El Capitan (For Free) Some of the most common methods of adding NTFS support broke with the recent release of El Capitan, but you can still write to your Windows drives with a bit of tinkering. Read More .

All new Macs will be formatted with APFS. Older Mac drives may still be formatted with the HFS+ file system. Windows can’t read either file system by default.

We’ll show you how to access your Mac-formatted APFS or HFS+ drive on Windows.


How to Read APFS on Windows

Firstly, let’s look at how to read the newer Apple File System format on Windows. All these apps will allow you to read drives from any updated Apple device, not just Macs.

1. MacDrive

macdrive home screen

MacDrive has been one of the go-to apps for a long time. The first version was released way back in 1996. If you’re prepared to spend some money, you don’t need to look elsewhere.

The app works with APFS drives and HFS+ drives.


Unlike some of the options we’ll discuss later, MacDrive lets you read and write data to your Mac-formatted drive directly from Windows.

The app is focused around the freshly redesigned Disk Management Window. It acts as a hub for all the Mac drives connected to Windows.

You will also be able to see your APFS or HFS+ drive directly within File Explorer, allowing easy integration with the rest of the Windows operating system.

Other useful features include the ability to create and partition Mac disks direct from your PC, a powerful disk repair feature, and robust security tools.


The standard version costs $49.99. There’s also a Pro version. It adds several extra features, including automatic file defragmentation, support for RAID setups, and a way to create Mac ISO files.

A five-day free trial is available.

Download: MacDrive ($49.99)

2. Paragon APFS for Windows

paragon apfs windows hard drive mounted


Paragon APFS for Windows is another paid app. It is the main competitor of MacDrive.

The app provides read and write access to APFS-formatted partitions, read and write access to compressed and cloned files, and read-only support for encrypted volumes.

It supports disk auto-mounting at start-up, but doesn’t have MacDrive’s partition tools.

MacDrive has one big advantage over Paragon’s app: HFS+ support. Paragon APFS for Windows only supports APFS-formatted drives. If you have some older Mac drives lying around that are still running HFS+, you would need to separately purchase Paragon HFS+ for Windows. MacDrive, therefore, is a more economical option.

One license—which costs $49.95—works on three Windows PCs.

Download: Paragon APFS for Windows ($49.95)

3. UFS Explorer Standard Access

UFS Explorer Standard Access exploring mac drive windows

Our third and final recommendation for reading APFS drives on Windows is UFS Explorer Standard Recovery. Once again, it’s a paid option. The app will cost you €21.95.

UFS Explorer Standard Recovery is the most versatile app on this list. It can read the two formats we care about—APFS and HFS+—as well as NTFS, FAT, FAT32, exFAT, SGI XFS, Linux JFS, Unix/BSD, UFS/UFS2, and VMware VMFS.

As such, this is the app you should choose if you find yourself hopping between lots of different operating systems during your day.

UFS Explorer Standard Recovery also comes with RAID support as standard. The app has a built-in RAID builder, so you can customize it for your array.

There is a free version of the app with no time limits, but it will only let you copy files smaller than 256KB in size.

Download: UFS Explorer Standard Access (€21.95)

How to Read HFS+ on Windows

If your Mac-formatted drive is still running HFS+, use one of these three methods instead.

1. Install Apple HFS+ Drivers

If you only need read access, you can install the Apple HFS+ drivers for Windows. Be sure to remove Paragon or MacDrive before proceeding.

Download the correct Windows driver package, then follow these steps:

  1. Copy the ApplsHFS.sys and AppleMNT.sys files to C:\Windows\System32\drivers
  2. Merge the Add_AppleHFS.reg file with your Windows registry.
  3. Restart your system.

The video above also demonstrates the process.

After restarting, your Mac-formatted drive should show up under This PC. This method only gives you read access to the drive. If you would like to edit or delete files, try one of the alternative methods below.

2. HFSExplorer

hfsexplorer mac drive on windows

HFSExplorer is completely free. You can use it to access Mac file systems from Windows without paying a dime. The developer hasn’t updated it since October 2015 due to the arrival of APFS, but it still works on older systems.

HFSExplorer requires Java. We generally recommend against having Java installed, but it’s necessary here unless you want to spend money. You also need to run the app as an Admin.

This tool is simple to use. Connect your Mac-formatted drive to your Windows system, open HFSExplorer, and click File > Load File System From Device. HFSExplorer can automatically locate any connected devices with HFS+ file systems and open them. You can then extract files from the HFSExplorer window to your Windows drive.

Note that HFSExplorer is read-only, so you can’t modify or delete files on your Mac drive. It also doesn’t integrate with Windows File Explorer—files are available in the HFSExplorer application and you must copy them elsewhere.

Download: HFSExplorer (Free)

3. Paragon HFS+ for Windows

paragon hfs plus mac volume

Paragon HFS+ for Windows is a paid application, but it distinguishes itself with additional features.

Unlike HFSExplorer, Paragon HFS+ for Windows provides full read/write access to Mac drives and promises high performance. It even integrates HFS+ file systems with Windows Explorer or File Explorer on Windows. Any Windows program can read from or write to the Mac drive.

The app costs $19.95, but it also offers a 10-day free trial. If you just need to recover files from a drive, 10 days is plenty of time to install this file system driver, copy your files over, and uninstall it.

Paragon HFS+ doesn’t need Java to work.

Download: Paragon HFS+ for Windows ($19.95)

Or Format the Mac Drive for Windows

If you have a Mac drive lying around and you no longer have a Mac, you’re not stuck with the Mac file system forever. After recovering the files from your drive with one of the tools above, you can then format the drive and convert it to a standard FAT32 partition that will work with most devices.

Formatting will erase all the files on your drive, so make sure you have backed up your files. To format the drive, just use the dialog that appears when you connect the drive to your computer.

Check out our guide to learn more about using FAT32 How to Format a Large Hard Drive With FAT or FAT32 The FAT and FAT32 formats support up to 16TB. Yet Windows sets a 32GB limit for formatting with FAT or FAT32. We'll show you how to format larger drives. Read More .

Related topics: File System, Hard Drive, Mac Tips, USB Drive, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Meager Pickens
    December 31, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Apple data is so special that you have to buy some "app" to access them from Windows.
    Send them to dev/null

  2. Bradley Peate
    December 30, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    android mobile can also read the files using OTG micro usb port :)

  3. Mark Tristan R. Ocampo
    December 30, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you so much for this. Just what I need.

    Sometime back, my Mac has been acting up, to the point where I can't use it anymore. I'm thinking of reformatting it or re-installing Mac OS X.

    On the other hand, my 1TB external hard drive was initially formatted to be read and written with Mac only. Now, I have a Win PC but no access to the files there. I will surely try this out.

    Again, thank you very much. Cheers!

  4. Daniel De Paula
    November 28, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    The Java application worked fine for me. Lucky I had the VM installed...

  5. oana
    September 20, 2018 at 12:34 am

    I bought today a WD my passport 25E3 from Curry Pc world. I was talking with the guy about Windows and an upgrade to my HP with another HP. For some reason ha gave me an external drive for MAC! I didn't notice until it was too late like why the hell my laptop can't see the hard and no drivers found for it. I literally black out when I saw it. No exchange or ref for opened boxes. But God I found you! and after bashing my head a few time, as I m not an expert I have managed to format my hard and now I can seeee it! Thank you sooo much!

  6. ken
    April 11, 2018 at 4:37 am

    This didn't work. Gave me the blue screen of death. Not worth it.

    October 8, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks soo much!

  8. Ben Myers
    June 22, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Very helpful!

  9. gdavisloop
    July 12, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Another free way to do it - Download Ubuntu Linux, burn to a DVD (or put on a flash memory), boot from that - you can run Ubuntu without installing it. Ubuntu will see the Mac device as well as your Windows devices, and you can easily copy files from one to the other.

    This method doesn't many ANY changes to your Windows software.

    • William
      August 3, 2016 at 4:30 am

      Thanks Gary. These are the answers I've been looking for a long time. And it's free. Bill

  10. Pam
    March 27, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Some of these programs cant access files if they are in "core storage". If your Mac is running OSX Lion or something newer this may be the case.

  11. Greg Searle
    February 24, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Tip: You must run HFS Explorer as Administrator on Windows in order for it to function properly.

    • Tendo
      July 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      thanks mate this Works. coz im using a hackintosh Laptop :)

  12. DRM
    January 12, 2016 at 3:28 am

    I cannot get HFS Explorer to find my HFS+ formatted drive - containing a Time Machine backup of my MAC - when i plug the external hard drive into my USB port on my HP laptop running Windows 10. In fact the laptop doesn't even see the drive at all when I plug it in.

    What could the problem be?

  13. Kirk
    December 27, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Can a "seagate for mac" slim drive be formatted NTFS (not fat 32) and used with windows 10 for external backup drive? Thanks.

  14. Anonymous
    October 2, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Don't install Paragon HFS+!!! This program is not working and you can't remove it from your computer!

    • Mark
      January 31, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      I've distrusted Paragon's filesystem code for years. About a decade ago I bought their Windows driver for reading EXT3 (Linux) filesystems. It seemed to work OK for about a month, but then suddenly after writing a file under Windows, the entire EXT3 filesystem became unreadable! Creating robust filesystem drivers is hard. A bug that only occurs on one write in a billion but that clobbers some critical element in some data structure the filesystem depends on can end up with you LOSING ALL THE FILES in the filesystem! Given the high risk of data loss, extensive testing is necessary before a filesystem driver can be deemed trustworthy, and it doesn't look like Paragon's testing is up to the task.

  15. Anonymous
    September 27, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Be very cautious installing Paragon HFS+ on Windows 10. I used it on 8 with no issues, but twice I have tried to install it on Win 10, and both times it's bricked my computer with an INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE error...

    I found out you have to go into your BIOS and set your SATA mode to IDE, then boot into Windows Safe Mode, do a System Restore, back into the BIOS and set SATA mode back to AHCI, then you can boot normally.

    I didn't want to spring for MacDrive, but at least it works.

    • Isaac B
      February 13, 2016 at 3:02 am

      This exact thing happened to me as well. I am in the process of reinstalling 100s of GBs of programs right now.

  16. Anonymous
    September 25, 2015 at 1:49 am

    Same issue reported by Terry, Paragon HFS+ trial is useless and doesn't do anything. The help is an equally useless small bit of text.

    Transmac won't let you read/write but it works okay. I find I have to close / open the program once in a while to continue working with a drive.

    MacDrive despite costing the most was the one that worked. I recommend this.

  17. Anonymous
    August 12, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I needed to open some to open a DMG of an entire Apple DVD - no thanks to the waste of time MacDrive "trial".

    All I had to do was Extract the DMG using 7-zip. Done.

    To examine and edit Apple .pkgs or .mpkgs, I needed Transmac.
    Note that it will BURN a DMG to disc, but just the uncompressed version (now an ISO) since its a PC.

  18. Anonymous
    June 20, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    For step 4, formatting the drive to ExFat would be better than FAT32. FAT32 has a size limit of around 4GB, so you can't put any files over that on there. ExFat has unlimited size limits and can read/write from a Mac and PC.

    • Mark
      January 31, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      But ExFat is legally-encumbered so that anyone who tries to write a Linux driver for it is subject to a nasty lawsuit from Microsoft. FAT32 is the only filesystem I know of that can be both read and written under all three major operating systems (Windows, OS-X, and Linux) as well as by various special purpose devices like digital cameras. It's unfortunate that FAT32 is an archaic design and has some serious limitations, but if your files are smaller than 4 GB and the partition containing your filesystem is under 2 TB, FAT32 provides portability between OS's that no other filesystem can.

  19. Anonymous
    June 6, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    For the record, The Paragon app won't let you run the free trial any more. I downloaded the app TWICE, restarted the computer both times, and funtioning app. What gives?? All I can access is the help menu, which ain't helpful at all! And like Pablo said earlier, Why offer a 'trial' version, if you won't let us TRY it?!?! Dumb!

  20. Pablo
    May 17, 2015 at 9:23 am

    MacDrive no longer allows access to Mac drives during the evaluation period... How we are supposed to evaluate it without actually evaluating it is beyond my little brain.

  21. John
    April 26, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Is MacDrive the only option that allows formatting disks in HFS+ format (and is that identical to or is MacDrive able to format and partition Macintosh Journaled volumes?) ?

    My wife's iMac HD died, I replaced it with a Crucial M550 1TB SSD and now it's telling me the disk is bad. All I have to check to see if the drive is actually bad is a Windows 7 x64 machine as her Air sure won't help. After two supposed hard drive failures in 3 months I'm a bit suspicious of the SATA controller or cabling. The Crucial SSD firmware update LINUX disc that boots a Mac or PC to update firmware failed repeatedly on the Mac with an error 13, which according to Crucial is common and issued an RMA. After I pulled the drive, I decided to plug into my test PC and the firmware updated fine and the disk management utility sees 3 healthy partitions, but I can't read them without one of the products mentioned in this thread. It sounds like MacDrive is the one I need, but seek confirmation as I do intend to purchase the product that best suits.

  22. Chris
    February 25, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Paragon did everything i needed it to do, read, edit and save , job done!

    With the trial version, happy to buy after trial experience.

  23. Henry
    January 29, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Hmmm, HFS+ for Windows. After trialling the free version and finding it appeared to do what I wanted it to do and did it reasonably well and simply, I thought I'd do the right thing purchased a license.
    But the purchased licence won't load while the trial version is installed & I can't uninstall the trial version despite being the administrator and disabling the User Account Control. So far, after 2 weeks, I'm still waiting for a response to my request for help from Paragon and it seems I could be waiting a while.
    Apparently, irrespective of the fact I have purchased a license, because I didn't also purchase a 'support package' I've gone on a 'no guarantee' waiting list while those who purchased a support package get preferential treatment. (WTF! Doesn't Paragon understand any person who goes to the effort of purchasing a license expects sufficient technical support to at least get what was purchased working. But apparently not. Further it seems some customers are more important that others).
    So, my strong recommendation is, 'think 2 or 3 times about when you want the application to work before you purchase. If you don't need it for several weeks, then go ahead but if you want it to work now, or if you expect support for your purchased license, FORGET IT!!!

  24. mtec
    October 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    The problem with Microsoft proprietary disk formats like NTFS or EXFAT is that there are no repair tools for other platforms which can reliably detect & fix errors on the volume if it becomes corrupted. So if you dont want to buy a Windows machine just to maintain your portable drives, dont use Microsoft formats.

  25. Cfreak
    May 22, 2014 at 3:39 am

    I am a Mac user, video editor. The Fat32 limit of 4 GB makes it unsuable for my needs.

    I once had to prepare files for a non-profit client using windows XP. I instructed them to use the update for ExFat and prepared an ExFat drive to mail them original high quality HD video files on. It all went well until I realized some characters are illegal in ExFat and that made for a lot of initial problems. Once I removed any character like: !@#$%^&*() all was well.

    Somebody should mention that when talking about ExFat. Does anyone have a good link to reference?


  26. Deepak
    May 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Always format hard disk as EXFAT in mac. Read/Write both in Mac and Windows :)

    • Jill
      May 5, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      "Always format hard disk as EXFAT in mac. Read/Write both in Mac and Windows :)"

      Always and never are too terms not often used in IT. There are several situations where a Mac drive should be formatted in HFS+, but if you don't that then there's no point in explaining it to you. You can look it up if you care.

    • Jill
      May 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      Typos, sorry.

      Always and never are two terms not often used in IT. There are several situations where a Mac drive should be formatted in HFS+, but if you don't know that then there's no point in explaining it to you. You can look it up if you care to.

    • Wiz
      February 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      4GB filesize limitation.

      Have not had success with HFS+. It randomly stops working, and I have to reinstall. Going to try MacDrive.

      • Wizard
        November 12, 2017 at 1:14 am


        Exfat does NOT have any limitation in file size.

        Fat 32 DOES have 4GB limitation.

        You are getting the two confused.

  27. olive
    May 1, 2014 at 12:39 am

    i had a mac but reverted to windows after my board died installed a software not quite sure i think it was paragon hfs works fine i didnt need to format i still use the drive in mac format

  28. Jonathan Peel
    April 30, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Palu, installing the filesystem drivers that come with bootcamp on a non Apple computer is possible, I did it a few months ago to get files off an old hard drive.

    It was read only, but that was good enough for what I wanted to do.

  29. Palu
    April 29, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    I have a imac with bootcamp, so my win partition reads mac drives correctly

    This article comes in handy, if i ever need to go back to a windows machine full time.

    Always had the idea you could install the bootcamp drivers on a non-apple branded pc, but doesnt look like its a possibility. Shake, would have been perfect :)