Format WD Elements For Mac And PC Title Image

Using your WD Elements hard drive for both your home Mac and work Windows PC means.

You can easily move. Look at and work on your important files and docs on both computers.

Because both your Mac and PC can get to the same files.

And it’s quick and easy for you to do on your iMac or MacBook Pro or Air.

Read on and learn how to make WD Elements compatible with Mac and PC.

Top Level View Of Formatting WD Elements For A Mac And A PC

1. Connect your WD Elements drive to your Mac.

2. You use Disk Utility. First to format your Elements WD drive to Mac OS Extended Journaled file system.

3. Next you format to ExFAT. 4. Then your Western Digital external hard drive is ready to use on your Mac. And on your Windows computer.

Ahead Of Starting Your WD Elements Mac And PC Formatting

You format your WD Elements on your Mac. Rather than on your PC. How come?

Mac’s are choosy about the formatting of their external drives. And this way you’ll get a shared drive that works reliably.

You’ll need your Mac powered on and you logged in.

You may want to think about connecting your MacBook Pro or Air to external power. Why?

Because the USB cable powers your Elements drive. It takes its power from your Mac.

You won’t want your Mac’s battery to fail. And you’re half way through formatting your Western Digital Elements drive.

You’ll want to make sure you’ve enough power for your drive.

Your WD Element drive comes with a USB cable that has a type A connector that plugs into your Mac.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

Do you have a MacBook Pro 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 or later?


Then your Mac computer will have a USB C port. And you’ll need an adaptor cable.

They are easy enough to get online.

Want to find out more about connection options for your Mac? Do take a look at this article on the site.

You may also need to use the adaptor cable on your Windows computer. If it has USB C ports on it.

All plugged in?

Great you can start.

CLICK HERE: To Read A Review On WD Elements On Mac

How To Format WD Elements For Mac And PC

The steps below format your Elements storage device. So that your whole drive is shareable.

This means that both your Mac and PC can see all of your drive.

Formatting will wipe any files you have on your WD external hard drive. If you have files on there you want to keep. Copy them off onto your PC first.

1. Can You See Your WD Elements External Drive On Your Desktop?

WD Elements Drive Icon


Open up a Finder window. You need to change your Finder window Settings (from Mac OS Ventura). In earlier Mac releases it’s called Preferences.

Finder Settings

Check the option to show ‘External Disks’ on your desktop. You’ll see it under the General tab.

Finder Settings Show External Disks

2. Start Up Disk Utility.

Disk Utility is your Mac’s disk management software. And is free for you to use as part of your Mac OS X operating system.

You’ll find it inside your Utilities folder. And you’ll find your Utilities folder inside your Applications folder.

To find. Open up a Finder window.  Type Disk Utility into the search bar.

Click to search ‘This Mac”.

Then double click on Disk Utility in the Finder window.

Finder Window Search For Disk Utility

The arrows in the above picture shows you where.

3. Pick Your Western Digital Elements Drive.

Once Disk Utility has started up. You’ll see its pop up window.

On the left hand side of your pop up window you’ll find the drives attached to your Mac.

Your Mac’s internal disk drive is under the heading ‘Internal’.

You’ll find your Elements drive under the ‘External’ heading.  Click to select your WD Elements drive.

Be sure to pick it at the top level. The arrow shows you where.

WD Elements Disk Utility External Drive

Can’t see the different drive levels as shown in the picture?

Look at the top of your desktop.

Click on View. And from the menu.

WD Elements Disk Utility View

Choose ‘Show all Devices’.

This tells Disk Utility to show you the drive and the volume.

Now pick your WD Elements drive under the ‘External’ heading at the top level.

It’s important you choose your WD Elements drive at the top level. If you don’t, you’ll have all sorts of problems formatting your Elements drive.

4. Select Erase.

At the top of your Disk Utility pop up window you’ll see a button for Erase.  Click on that.

Select Erase
Select Erase

Worried about clicking Erase? Don’t. As the next windows shows you a bunch of things you need to do first.

WD Elements Disk Utility Formatting

5. Give Your WD Elements Hard Drive A Name.

Put in a name for your Elements shared external hdd.

Choose a name that’s easy for you to remember. One that’ll help you know exactly what you’re using your Elements WD hard drive for.

Sharing between a Mac and a PC.

You’ll format your external hard disk twice. 

This first time round. You format your Elements drive to Mac OS Extended Journaled file system.

Pick that option for the drive format.

The red arrow on the picture shows you where to click. By clicking there. You open up the up down arrows to expand the list of available file system formats.

Next pick GUID Partition Map for the scheme.

Then click on Erase on the bottom right of the pop up window.

Disk Utility now takes a few minutes to format your WD external drive. Your drive now changes from NTFS to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. 

6. Now Format Your WD Elements Drive As ExFAT

Go through steps 3 and 4 again.

This time from the format option list. You select the file system format of ExFAT.

WD Elements Disk Utility ExFAT

Choose the Scheme as GUID Partition Map as you did before.

7. Click to Erase.

Click on Erase on the bottom right hand corner of the pop up window.

And in a few minutes your WD Elements drive is ExFAT formatted. And ready for you to use on your Mac and your Windows platform.

Your WD external hard drive shows up on your Mac’s desktop. You’ll find the name you gave it under its drive icon.

Now your entire WD Elements external hard drive is in a format both computers can use. 

You can create folders. Copy files from your Mac onto your Elements drive.

Plug your Western Digital Elements drive into your PC.  Work on documents on the drive and put docs from your PC onto the drive.

And when you plug back into your Mac your Mac can see and use those files.

What If You Want A Separate Area On Your WD Elements For Mac And PC?

You would do this by creating partitions on your hard drive.

Think of partitions as slicing your Elements external storage into different size pieces. And you use each piece for different things.

Say you may want two partitions.

One partition for your Time Machine back up of your Mac.

And another for both Mac and your PC to share files.

The partition that you want your Mac to use for backup you format as APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

Your Windows personal computer can’t see that partition. And it won’t appear when you plug your Elements drive into your PC.

The partition you want to share with both Mac and Windows you partition as ExFAT.

To Format Your WD Elements With A Partition For Mac And PC

1. Follow steps 1 through to 5 above.

Your whole drive is now formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

After you have formatted your Western Digital Elements drive once. You use your Mac OS X disk management software again. …

2. In Disk Utility, Click On Partition.

At the top of your Disk Utility screen you’ll see the partition button.

Select Partition
Select Partition

Click on it.

This time Disk Utility shows you the partition pop up window.

3. Create Your First Partition.

WD Elements Disk Utility Partition Window

Give your partition a name. In this example our first partition is for a Time Machine backup. You could call it Time Machine. Makes it easy to remember.

Just like when you formatted choose APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. And the Scheme as GUID Partition Map.

4. Click The + Button Under The Large Circle.

The large circle is a picture showing your whole disk. When you click + you’re telling Disk Utility to create a second partition. 

Disk Utility splits your Elements WD drive into two equal parts.

WD Elements Disk Utility 2nd Partition

5. Click On The New Partition.

Give your Elements WD hard drive’s 2nd partition a name. A name that helps you quickly identify that partition when it shows on your Mac’s desktop.

Choose ExFAT for the format. And GUID Partition Map for the scheme.

Click on Apply and you’re done.

6. Don’t Want Equal Partition Sizes?

If you don’t want a 50/50 split. Then you can simply move the small circle round to change the partition size.

WD Elements Disk Utility Change Partition Size

7. Click Apply.

When you’re happy press Apply.

Your Mac will create the partitions, and format them as you want. And after a short while you’ve done your partitioning.

And your partitions will appear on your Mac’s desktop as individual drive icons.

PC and Time Machine Partition Icons
PC and Time Machine Partition Icons

You can double click on them to open up Finder windows. Then you can copy and paste. Or drag and drop files to. The Time Machine partition you connect up to Time Machine.

Find out how here. WD Elements Time Machine (How To & Use For) Your Mac Backup.

Why Doesn’t Your WD Elements Drive Work Out Of The Box On Your Mac And PC?

Western Digital ships the Elements external hard drive formatted as NTFS.

This means your PC will be able to use the drive right away.

A Mac computer can read the files on an NTFS formatted WD Elements drive. But can’t update those files. Or put more files on the Elements drive.

ExFAT luckily is a file system format that both your Windows PC and your Mac can use.

In ExFAT you can plug your Elements storage device into either. And both computers can see all the files on the drive.

Not only that, they can write files onto the drive.

This makes the drive completely shareable.

Saving you money. Because you won’t need a NTFS driver software to share files.

And all the files you want to use are right there on the one drive.

In Closing

And now you can relax because you have your WD Elements drive formatted for your Mac and PC.


You’ve formatted your WD Elements for a Mac and PC. And now you can get on with sharing your files between them both. You’ll find other documents here all about your WD Elements drive.  Please take a look.

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