Amit Dhamu

Software Engineer

Reading A Mac-Formatted Hard Drive On Windows 7

If you are both a Windows and Mac OS X user, you will already know the differences between the two and the differing options available for formatting external hard drives. Windows is the more flexible allowing you to format your external drives as FAT32 or NTFS and OS X prefers you to use either FAT32, Mac OS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) which is what one of my hard drives was. I only had a Mac when I started adding stuff to my hard drive and to reformat it back to a FAT32 partition and re-add all my stuff again was not something I was prepared to do (if I could help it).

The main benefits of not using FAT32 is that you're not limited to the 2.2GB file size limit and NTFS was just not an option at the time.

After doing some hunting, I found a piece of software from MediaFour called MacDrive. I installed it and tried it out but it didn't seem to want to view my hard drive. This was really annoying because each thread I read online reported that it worked great.

Enter HFSEXplorer.

HFSExplorer is an application that can read Mac-formatted hard disks and disk images. It can read the file systems HFS (Mac OS Standard), HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) and HFSX (Mac OS Extended with case sensitive file names).


This sounded like the type of program I was after and it is also open-source (unlike MacDrive) which was great. Installed the program and it works a treat. You are able to browse your Mac OS Extended (Journaled) formatted hard drive on a Windows 7 machine in an explorer-esque window and "extract" files from it to your local machine. Another good thing about this program is that when you launch it, it has an auto-detect feature to check if any compatible drives are plugged in. You then select which one you're after and the drive pops up.

Great piece of software and a life-saver if you have a lot of stuff backed up on a Mac-formatted drive.

 apple / mac / windows / microsoft / hfs / osx / hard drives / productivity

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