Is there a format for a hard drive that both Mac and Windows OS can read/write to?

I want an external hard drive that stores files they can both read/write, and use for backups, etc.


FAT32 is the best option since it works with all OSes. NTFS has drivers available, so you should also be able to use it with Linux, Mac and Windows. HFS would be a poor choice. FAT32 cannot handle files greater than 4 GB though.


FAT32 is the most supported, but its biggest flaw is that it doesn't support large files (> ~4 GiB). Next would probably be NTFS, supported (albeit not perfectly) on Mac by default (I think). Next would be HFS+, the native file system for Mac OS, but not technically supported on Windows by default. (Unless you call playing with mounting, drivers, and such "defaults").

In short, go with FAT32 if all files < 4 GB, otherwise NTFS.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.