I was wondering how to make a hybrid USB stick. That means a USB stick that runs under Mac and Windows and displays specific content.


  1. Plug in on Windows:

    index.html opens. Mac OS X files are invisible.

  2. Plug in on Mac:

    indexMac.html opens. Windows files are invisible.

I know that every USB stick can be read by both platforms. The Apple Mac OS X CD is something which inspired me.


If you want this HTML-based solution, you can always cheat a bit. You can have it launch an index.html, which uses javascript to find out what OS the system is using, and redirect to mac/index.html or win/index.html


Partition the USB stick - half HFS+ for the Mac and half NTFS. This SHOULD be readable by both platforms - then you can put on anything you like. A PC will see the NTFS partition, but not HFS+, the Mac will see both but only write to the HFS+.

You can use disk utility on the Mac for the HFS+ bit.

  • Yes but make sure that the NTFS partition is the first one. Windows doesn't like to mount it automatically if it's the second. – hookenz Oct 2 '12 at 21:07

Format the stick as FAT32. It should be readable by both systems.

That will give you a seamless data solution, even though FAT32 is far from the best file system. Unfortunately, with improved file systems like NTFS or those supported by Macintosh, have incomplete, limited, or no support in the "other" operating system.

If you wanted something more specific, you'd better revise the question.


Use A Partition Editor to make an HFS+ and NTFS partition on the drive- the HFS+ will only be visible on the Mac, and the NTFS will only be visible on Windows (Unless you install NTFS-3G on the Mac).

  • most USB keys don't support multiple partitions – Martin Beckett Aug 29 '10 at 5:03
  • mgb, where did you get that information from? I've always been able to repartition my drives (Sony, Sandisk, Apacer, ...) – Lekensteyn Aug 29 '10 at 8:50
  • USB keys don't care, but the operating system you use might not let you. – LawrenceC Jan 22 '18 at 22:08

If you format a partition on the key as a Mac file system you cannot view the files under Windows.

A autorun.inf should sort your launching under Windows.

However for the Mac autorunning CDs (or USB in this case ws dropped silently in OS X) see here.

So I am not sure if you would be able to do what you are hoping.

(This is more some "bits" of an answer than a full answer...)

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