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How do make an external USB drive work on both Windows and MacOS?

  • In order for an external drive (hard drive and flash drive) to work with both Windows and MacOS, it has to be formatted with the exFAT file system.

***Formatting a drive means you will lose ALL data on that drive. Make sure all of your data is backed up BEFORE your format the drive***

On MacOS:

Open Finder, go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility

Select [hd:DriveName], then Erase  *Use caution not to select the Macintosh drive

Name the drive, then change the Format to exFAT

Click Erase

On Windows 10:

Go to File Explorer > This PC

Right click on [hd:DriveName], then Format  *Use caution not to select the C: drive

Change File System to exFAT and name the drive under Volume Label

Click Start

*Optional: If you believe the drive is experiencing issues, uncheck Quick Format which will scan the drive for errors. Otherwise, keep Quick Format checked.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

July 02, 2019

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