External Hard Drive


macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 27, 2007
Ok, I will be getting a new MBP to replace my HP here in about a month. I have alot of files on my dad's desktop PC's HDD right now that will not fit on my laptop. My plan was to buy the MBP and the external HDD at the same time so I could format the drive for Mac. My problem is I might to moving to Oklahoma (from Michigan) for college BEFORE I buy the computer. If I get the external HDD now and use it with my PC, will I be able to use it with the Mac without having to reformat? Here is a link to the external that I plan on buying.


Thanks in advance for any help.



macrumors newbie
Jul 13, 2007
You would need a FAT formatted drive.

The drive should be in FAT format in order for the Mac to read and write to it. If it's NTFS format the Mac will only be able to read from it.


macrumors 65816
Jun 3, 2007
Here's what I would do. When you get the drive, format it as FAT32 and stick all your important files that you want to move over to your MBP on it. When you get the laptop move the files over to the internal drive on the MBP and reformat the drive as JHFS+. Formatting the drive as FAT32 will allow your Mac to both read and write to it. Of course, if you only are going to need to read files from it you could use NTFS...but there's no real reason not to use FAT32 especially since its just a temporary stopgap solution.

Don't forget to backup your Mac! You don't want to have to learn the hard way.


macrumors 603
Dec 20, 2002
sunny los angeles
fat32 has limitations on the files, so if you have anything above 4gb, you're out of luck.

ntfs write support is available through macfuse with ntfs-3g, if you're willing to give it a shot.

otherwise, ntfs can be read but not written to by default on OS X, which, if you're only copying things, isn't a problem (or is it?).


macrumors member
Jan 7, 2005
Depending on how big the drive and how much data you need to transfer, you could always partition it so that it has a FAT32 or NTFS partition AND a JHFS+ partition.

Either format just the windows partition for copying data, leaving enough room for your JHFS+ partition later or, I believe if you download the free trial for MacDrive (www.mediafour.com), you should be able to format the drive in HFS from windows. Then when you get your mac, you can copy everything to the HFS partition, and now (since 10.4.6) you can resize the HFS partition without losing your data, to get rid of the windows partition.

The trial version of MacDrive may also give you enough time to copy all the data to the JHFS+ partition in windows so that its already Mac formatted.