Can I Use a Seagate Hard Drive on a Mac? (Find Out)

By Paul Gregory / October 8, 2019
Can I Use A Seagate Hard Drive On A Mac Title Image

The answer is yes.

A solid yes.

The good news is your Mac is awesome.

And when you want to free up space on your Mac. To download your photos from the cloud. Or you need a drive for backup.

You can use any Seagate external hard drive on your Mac.

There are some things to know.  And perhaps some things to do first depending on the Seagate external hard drive you have. Or plan to buy.

Can I use a Seagate Hard Drive on a Mac?

Yes.

But Seagate NTFS formatted hard drives you have to format on your Mac first. Or you download and use a software driver for your Mac.

ExFAT Seagate hard drives you can use straight away.

But for a Time Machine Backup. All Seagate hard drives need to be formatted with Disk Utility to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

A Little Seagate Hard Drive Background For You

Seagate sells file systems on all their external hard drives.

So what?

A file system is how files are laid out on the external drive. And Seagate Technology puts different types of file systems on their hard drives.

These file systems are also called the formatting of the Seagate drive. And the file system or formatting affects how your Mac sees the Seagate hard drive.

And it affects what your Mac can do with the Seagate drive.

And what you can use your Seagate hard drive for on your Mac.

The good news is whatever formatting Seagate sells your hard drive in. Your Mac can change it.

And you can change the file system by reformatting the Seagate hard drive on your Mac.

Are there Other Options to Formatting Your Seagate Hard Drive on Your Mac?

Yes, there are.

You can leave the Seagate drive in the formatting you bought it in.

Some Seagate hard drives you can just use on your Mac.

With others you can use software so that your Mac can understand the drive.

You call this software driver software. And Seagate sells some of their drives with driver software that you can download and run on your Mac.

File Systems Seagate Hard Drives are Sold With And Using on Your Mac

Seagate drives are sold with either NTFS file systems or ExFAT file systems.

Depending on the Seagate drive.

For example you’ll find the Seagate Expansion external hard drive is NTFS formatted.

Another example is the Seagate Portable external hard drive. That Seagate hard drive is also NTFS formatted.

Using a Seagate NTFS Formatted Hard Drive on Your Mac

A Seagate NTFS formatted hard drive is one set up for a Windows PC.

Your Mac will see the Seagate NTFS formatted drive when you plug it in.

Your Mac can read your Seagate hard drive with its NTFS file system on it.

But.

When you come to put new files on your NTFS formatted Seagate hard drive the drive will seem locked.

Or when you want to update a file on the Seagate NTFS formatted hard drive the Seagate will seem blocked.

This is because your Mac can read a Seagate NTFS hard drive but not write to it.

So what to do?

You can either take 5 or so minutes to reformat the Seagate drive.

Which is fine if the Seagate drive is new and you know there are no files on there.

But what if you have files on there? Files put on there by a Windows PC. Or the files the Seagate hard drive ships with and you want to use those files later.

You can copy them off the Seagate NTFS hard drive and then reformat.

Learn how to reformat your Seagate hard drive on your Mac in this article link.

Can I use Driver Software on My Seagate Hard Drive on My Mac?

Seagate Technology sells some of their hard drives with the rights to download an NTFS software driver. This driver sits on your Mac and translates what your Mac sends to the drive into NTFS.

But this driver is only provided for some of the Seagate drives.

For example the Seagate Ultra Touch comes with the right to download an NTFS software driver.

But what if you have one of the other NTFS formatted Seagate external hard drives?

You’ll have to buy a software driver. Adding to the cost of the drive.

You can find out more about NTFS software drivers in my article on the site.  Just use this link.

Can I use a Seagate Hard Drive in NTFS With Time Machine?

No.

Your Mac’s backup software Time Machine wont work with NTFS formatted Seagate drives.

You’ll need to reformat and change the file system to a Mac file system.

Mac Drive Icon

Using a Seagate ExFAT Formatted Hard Drive on Your Mac

A Seagate ExFAT formatted hard drive is more of a half way house on your Mac compared to an NTFS formatted drive.

An example of a Seagate drive in ExFAT format is the Seagate Backup Plus Slim.

And the Seagate solid state drives are ExFAT formatted.

When you plug in your Seagate drive with an ExFAT file system on it. The Seagate external hard drive will show up on your Mac’s desktop.

Your Mac will be able to read the Seagate hard drive. And write to it.  This means that you can drag and drop your files to the Seagate ExFAT hard drive. And use the Seagate drive to free up space on your Mac.

You can copy and paste your files.

And there’s no driver software needed on for your Mac.

And you didn’t have to do anything to the Seagate hard drive.

So there is an advantage to buying an ExFAT formatted Seagate Hard drive for your Mac.

Seagate Backup Plus Slim Black Blue Silver Gold
Seagate Backup Plus Slim Black, Blue, Silver, Rose Gold

You can find out more about the Seagate Backup Plus Slim in this article here.

Can I use a Seagate hard drive for a Mac and PC?

Yes!

Another advantage of having an ExFAT file system on your Seagate hard drive is. Both a Mac and a Windows PC can use an ExFAT drive.

And with no changes to the drive.

Plug in your Seagate hard drive into your Mac and copy and paste. Or drag and drop your files on there.

Or update and change the files already put on there from a Windows PC.

Listen to music or watch movies on the drive.

As long as you have software on your Mac that can read those files you’re good to go.

Plug in your Seagate hard drive into your Windows PC and copy and paste. Or drag and drop files on there. Or update files put on there from your Mac.

And again as long as you have software on the PC that can read those files from your Mac you’re fine.

Time Machine

Can I use a Seagate ExFAT Hard Drive For a Time Machine Backup on my Mac?

No.

Time Machine will not work with an ExFAT formatted Seagate external hard drive.

You’ll need to reformat your Seagate drive and change the format to a Mac file system.

Can I Use My Seagate Hard Drive for Time Machine?

Yes, you’ll just need to reformat it first.

Format your Seagate hard drive to HFS+. Your Mac calls this file system Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.  It’s your Mac’s native file system for hard drives.

Format your Seagate hard drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system and

And use your Seagate hard drive for a Time Machine backup of your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iMac.

Plus you can drag and drop your files. Copy and paste your files to and from your Seagate external hard drive onto your Mac.

And it only takes minutes to do. 

You can learn how to do it in this article “How to Format a Seagate Hard Drive for Mac. It’s Simple”

Plugging in Your Seagate Hard Drive to Use on Your Mac

Some Seagate hard drives are USB 3.0 drives. These drives come with USB cables with type A connectors on the end.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

To plug those drives into your Mac with a USB C Thunderbolt port you’ll need an adaptor plug or cable.

These are easy to source from Amazon.

Some Seagate hard drives are USB 3.0 but Seagate sells them with the USB C adaptor. 

The Seagate Ultra Touch is an example of a Seagate drive that has this.

Just use the adaptor to use the Seagate hard drive on your Mac.

Some Seagate hard drives have Thunderbolt connections.

They’re sold with USB C cables and plug straight into your USB C Mac.

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

You’ll need to get yourself an adaptor plug to take advantage of backwards compatibility. And plug into your older Mac with USB 3.0, 3.1 or 2.0 USB ports.

All the Seagate portable hard drives take their power from your Mac using their USB cable. You’ll just need to make sure your Mac has enough battery power when you’re using on your Mac.

The Seagate desktop hard drives come with separate power. Plug in those drives and power up when using on your Mac.

How Can I tell What Type of Seagate Hard Drive I have on my Mac?

It’s quick and easy to tell. When you plug in your Seagate hard drive you’ll see its drive icon on your Mac’s desktop.

Seagate Backup Plus Drive Icon
Seagate Backup Plus Drive Icon

Right click on the drive icon. And from the menu pick ‘Get Info’.

Right Click Get Info
Right Click Get Info

Then take a look at the format information.

Get Info Disk Format
Get Info Drive Format

You’ll find out there if the drive is NTFS, ExFAT or Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

Last Words

So there you are. You’ve found out that you can use your Seagate hard drive on your Mac. While you’re here why not take a look at my other Seagate hard drive articles on the site?

Seagate Expansion VS Backup Plus Who’s on Top For Mac

Seagate Expansion on Mac, Want it but can I Use on My Mac?

Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine, the Smart Way to Backup

Partition Seagate Backup Plus Shape so You’ll Love it on Mac




Certain images are produced with permission from Seagate Technology.

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