Using Seagate external drive for Windows with Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by austinlancaster, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. austinlancaster macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2010

    This christmas I recieved a Seagate 2TB Expansion external drive. The bad news is that it has 'for PC' written all over it, and I own a Macbook with OS 10.6.2.

    I am able to view the files already on the drive on my mac, but cannot copy or paste any new ones.

    I was wondering if there is a way to format it so it will work with my mac, or whether I shoud take it to a computer shop to be modified, or whether I should just take it back to the shop and try to get a different one?

    Also, to complicate the question, most of the files I want to copy onto the drive are on a PC.

    Anyway, thanks in advance,
  2. DewGuy1999 macrumors 68040


    Jan 25, 2009
    Take a look at this thread, specifically the message from GGJstudios, as it covers the different formats for hard drives and will give you a better idea of what the choices are. You shouldn't have to take it to a computer shop to have it reformatted (if you decide to reformat it) as it's pretty easy to do.
  3. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    Format it as a FAT32 partition, using disk utilities on the mac. It should now be compatible with both the PC and mac, except it won't take files larger than 4 GB. After you complete the transfer, you may want to format it as HFS+, which will allow you to have larger files, although the PC won't be able to write to it once you do that.
  4. austinlancaster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2010
    Thanks for the advice guys.

    I installed the NTFS-3G app and can now copy things from the mac, so I'm guessing there won't be any other issues?
  5. brucem91 macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2009
    You shouldn't have to worry, that's what I am doing with my external. I would format to fat32, but it is limited to 4 GB's for each file.

    Remember, their is NO SUCH THING as a "Mac Hard Drive" or a "PC Hard Drive", they are all the same. Wether or not your system can read/write to it is dependent on the filesystem that is setup on the drive. For example:

    If a drive is formatted to Fat32:
    Windows and Mac can Read/Write to it, but no file can be bigger than 4 GB's.

    If a drive is formatted to NTFS:
    Windows can read/write, Mac OS X can only read. NTFS-3G solves this issue though

    If a drive is formatted to HFS+ (Apple's Native Format):
    Windows can't read or write, Mac OS X can read/write; and is time-machine ready

    If you only use your drive with your mac, I would recommend formatting to HFS+. If you will need to plug into PC's, format as NTFS or FAT-32.
  6. austinlancaster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2010
    Ok cheers, thanks for the extra clarification.

    I think I will leave it formatted as NTFS using NTFS-3G, because it's likely I'll use it with PC's sometime.

    Just one last question, if you reformat a drive, will the existing files be erased?
  7. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    Yeah, unfortunately it does erase all the files when you do a format.

  8. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    My advice:

    Do not leave the drive formatted as "NTFS" for regular use with the Mac (even with software that lets you write to it as well as read from it).

    Instead, re-initialize it to Mac format.
    - If you intend to use the drive with other Macs that may be "non-Intel-based", choose the "Apple Partition Map" in Disk Utility.
    - If you intend to use the drive ONLY with other Macs that ARE Intel-based, use the "GUID" partition mapping.

    I'll guess that just choosing to re-initialize using Disk Utility's "defaults" will work fine for you.



    So, copy anything you wish to save to your internal drive, or to some other drive, because it will be gone once you re-initialize.

    Then, just re-copy things back over onto the new Mac-formatted drive.

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