I have an external hard drive with a bootable HFS+ partition on it. I have unallocated space on this drive that I want to create a new exFAT partition on, so that my entire family's computers, both Macs and PCs, can use the new partition. I still want to be able to boot into the HFS+ partition from a Mac. I can only find sparse and/or conflicting information on this. On the one hand, I am reading about people not being able to access the exFAT partition from a PC unless the partition is actually created using Disk Management on a PC. On the other hand, when I try this on a Win7 system, I get a warning saying that the operation I selected will convert the basic disk to a dynamic disk, and I won't be able to start installed operating systems from any volume on the disk.

How can I create an exFAT partition on my external disk that is readable by both WinXP (SP3), Win7 and Mac, without losing the ability to boot from the existing HFS+ partition?

  • UPDATE: I think the issue may be the partitioning scheme. I know that it must be GUID partition table in order to be able to boot the HFS+ volumes, but I don't know what Windows 7 can and cannot handle.
    – Phil M
    Apr 14, 2012 at 3:03

1 Answer 1


XP? Sorry, but you can't get there from here. Intel based Macs boot from GPT partitioned hard drives, and Windows XP can't read GPT discs at all without a third party driver, if one exists.

If you create the partition on your Mac, Vista and 7 should see it, I would think, unless Apple is doing something wrong with the partition table.

  • Wikipedia mentions that the 64-bit version of XP understands GPT, on the off change the questioner is actually running that.
    – Kyle Jones
    Apr 14, 2012 at 1:04
  • Very few people ran XP-64, and anyone that did should know that it's different enough to mention explicitly.
    – afrazier
    Apr 14, 2012 at 1:15
  • You're right about XP not reading GUID partition table disks. BTW, I'm mostly using Win7 & Macs, but one machine is WinXP. But what about Win7? Does the partitioning scheme need to be MBR for Win7 to cope, or can it handle GPT disks?
    – Phil M
    Apr 14, 2012 at 3:01
  • According to the Microsoft GPT FAQ, yes. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463525
    – afrazier
    Apr 14, 2012 at 12:57

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