How to make a Flash Drive/Hard Disk Windows & Mac Compatible

When it comes to playing nice in the sandbox, Apple has done a lot to co-exist nicely with Windows. One way is that a Mac can read and save to a Windows formatted drive.

A handy way to put this to use is by having a USB flash drive work on both your Mac and a friend’s Windows machine. This makes it dirt-dog easy to share files between your Mac and the Dark Side.

1. Insert the flash drive into a USB port on your Mac.

2. Lauch Disk Utility, which you’ll find in the Applications/Utilities folder on your Mac.

3. Select your flash drive in the left hand column of Disk Utility.

4. Select the “Erase” tab.

5. From the Format pull-down menu, select MS-DOS (FAT)

6. Give the drive a name.

7. Click the “Erase” button on the lower right corner of Disk Utility to format the drive.

Win  Mac Compatible Drive

The result is a drive which is simultaneously compatible with a Windows* and OS X computer. If you need to handle files larger than 4GB, format the drive using the “exFAT” option instead of FAT, but beware this format is not as backwards compatible.

Oh, and this also works for external hard disks, not just USB flash drives.


* Windows 95, 98, Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and supposedly 8.

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