How to access an external hard drive formatted for a Mac on a PC

Written by ken macdonald Google
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to access an external hard drive formatted for a Mac on a PC
Use third party software to read Mac-formatted drives on a PC. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

If your external USB hard drive is formatted with the FAT32 system, both Windows 7 computers and Macs running OS X can access the drive and read and add files to it. However, if your external drive has been formatted to HFS, HFS+ or HFSX, all native to Mac, Windows won't be able to read or write to it. You'll need some third party software to solve this problem. There are various options available for download, such as Paragon and MacDrive, but the only free one at the time of writing is HFSExplorer.

Skill level:

Other People Are Reading

Things you need

  • Third party software

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Use your PC to visit the Catacombae website and download HFSExplorer. Select the "Download installer for Microsoft Windows systems" option. Follow the online instructions to download and install the software.

  2. 2

    Open HFSExplorer and plug your USB drive into your Windows computer. Click "File" from the menu bar at the top of HFSExplorer and locate the external drive from the file tree that appears. Click the drive to open it and you'll now see a file tree with the contents of the drive displayed.

  3. 3

    Select the files you want to access then click "Extract." Now use the file tree to navigate to a folder where you can save the files on your computer's hard drive. You can't create a folder at this stage, so you must use a pre-existing one.

  4. 4

    Click on the folder to open it and click "Extract" again. The files will copy over to the folder on your hard drive and you'll be able to access them.

Tips and warnings

  • Err on the side of caution by backing up the data on your external hard drive before using HFSExplorer.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.