FAT & exFat - Help

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Tissue Paper, May 13, 2014.

  1. Tissue Paper macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2012
    I bought a new HD and I noticed from previous experience if I use it first on a Mac then I need to stick with Macs if I need to edit anything and vice versa with PCs. I was told there is a way to format it to work on both. Some sites say format to FAT but there is a size limit? I bought 1T hard drive so I went with exFAT assuming it's going to allow more space?

    Anyway, I formatted the thing on the Mac and it worked but when I took it to the PC, it asked me to format it again to N-something (forgot the exact format). There was no option to choose FAT or exFAT. The PC is running XP.

    So when I went back to the Mac I noticed the HD name changed and I can't do any editing anymore.

    Is there a way to fix this?
  2. AustinIllini macrumors G3


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I think the size limit is 4 GB, but I'm not entirely sure.
  3. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
  4. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

    May 13, 2013
    It sounds like the PC formatted it as NTFS, which Macs can read but cannot write to, at least not natively.

    I would use Disk Utility to format it as FAT32. The only real issue with this format that most people will run into is the 4GB file size limitation. Beyond that it's typically fine for storing files that are accessed by both platforms.

    You can find Disk Utility in your /Applications/Utilities folder. When you open Disk Utility you should see a list of hard drives on the left, select your external hard drive. Selecting the erase tab in the right side of the window will give you a screen similar to this.

    Change the "Format" to MS DOS (FAT) and give the volume a name. Once that's done you can click erase. This WILL remove all data from the drive so be sure you've copied off any important data to your PC first.

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