How To Set Up Seagate Hard Drive For Mac Title Image

So, you’re keen to get on and do your Seagate Mac setup and looking for help.

Read this article and learn how to go about it.

And find out about the things to bear in mind to get your Seagate external drive set up perfect for you and your Mac.

At A Glance: How To Set Up Seagate Hard Drive For Mac

1. When you’re only using your Seagate external storage for your Mac. Set your drive up as APFS or Mac OS Extended.

2. When sharing between a Mac and a Windows PC set your drive up as ExFAT with a GUID Partition Map.

3. When mainly using your NTFS formatted Seagate portable hard drive. Or desktop drive on a Windows PC. You can use NTFS driver software on your Mac and keep your drive in its NTFS format.

4. You can use Disk Utility on your Mac to format and set up your Seagate external hard drive how you want.

How Seagate Technology Set Up Their External Drives

Seagate Technology delivers their external drives either with an ExFAT file system. Or with an NTFS file system on it.

For example, the Seagate Expansion external hard drive is ExFAT formatted. And the Seagate Backup Plus Hub is NTFS formatted.

The Seagate SSD’s (Solid State Drives) come ExFAT formatted.

Why does this matter?

Because how your drive arrives, gives you a clue to what you need to do with your drive to set it up on your Mac.

Your Mac can read and write to the ExFAT, APFS or Mac OS Extended file systems. But can only read files on the NTFS File system.

Seagate External Drive Setup When You’re Only Using Your Drive On Mac

When the only reason you bought your Seagate external drive was to use on your Mac. Then, the best way to set it up is to change your drive into a native Mac format.

This means reformatting your drive into APFS or Mac OS Extended.


Because then you know you’re using the fastest most secure file system for your Mac.

Set your drive up APFS for a Seagate SSD (Solid State Drive). APFS was made to take advantage of the speed of an SSD. APFS can run on hard drives but was made for SSD’s.

Pick Mac OS Extended for an external hard drive. Particularly when you need backwards compatibility with an older Mac OS X version.

If you happen to have files already on your Seagate drive. Copy them off somewhere safe first before formatting.

Seagate External Hard Drive Setup When Sharing Between A Mac And A PC

ExFAT is a file system format used for sharing. Both a Mac and a Windows computer can read an ExFAT drive.

And Seagate Technology sells a number of their drives in an ExFAT format.

Great I hear you say.

But hold on one minute.

Macs will happily use an ExFAT drive as long as it has a GUID Partition Map as its partition scheme.

And some Seagate drives ship ExFAT but with a Master Boot Record as it’s partition scheme.

Seagate Partition Map Master Boot Record


Well, your Seagate external hard drive in ExFAT will work on your Mac. But may well give you strange errors down the line. Leaving you scratching your head wondering what on earth is up with your drive.

And the issue could be as simple as the partition setup isn’t quite right for your Mac.  Modern Window PC’s use the GUID Partition Map as well.

Format your Seagate hard drive on your Mac as ExFAT with a GUID partition Map. For a drive to share files between a Mac and PC. It takes less than 5 minutes to set your drive up right. And this goes for Seagate SSD’s as well.

NTFS Seagate Portable Drive Mac Setup. Or NTFS Seagate Desktop Setup

When you have a Seagate NTFS portable or desktop external drive. The key to deciding the best way to set it up on your Mac is how you plan to use your drive.

Is your external hard drive mainly for your Mac? Or mainly for a PC and just occasionally for your Mac.

If you’re mainly using your Seagate NTFS drive on your Windows computer. And only copy files off the drive onto your Mac. Then leave your drive as it is.

Macs can read a Seagate NTFS drive. And you can happily copy files off the drive your Mac.

But, if you need to write new files to your drive. Or update existing files.

You’ll need another solution. As Macs can’t put new files on a Seagate drive in an NTFS format.

You can download and use driver software on your Mac.  Seagate Technology provides the Paragon NTFS driver software with some of their drives.

If you’re buying your Seagate hard drive for your Mac. And the ideal external drive for you just happens to be in NTFS. But you plan on only using your external hard drive on your Mac.

Then simply change the NTFS file system format to a Mac format.

You can easily do that using disk management software called Disk Utility on your Mac.

Pick a native Mac file system format like APFS or Mac OS Extended. And have your Seagate external drive as a Mac drive.

How To Find Out How Your Seagate External Hard Drive Is Set Up Now On Mac

You may not know the current set up of the Seagate external drive you have in your hand.

It’s easy to check.

Connect your external storage to your Mac’s USB port using its USB cable.

When your drive icon appears on your Mac’s desktop.

Seagate Drive Icon

Right click on your Seagate’s hard drive icon on your Mac’s desktop.

And from the menu that comes up pick Get Info.

Seagate Get Info

Look for what it says for format. And then you’ll know if your drive is in an ExFAT, APFS, Mac OS Extended or NTFS file system format.

If for some reason you can’t see your Seagate’s hard drive icon. Then your Mac may not be set up to show your Seagate external hard drive on your Mac computer.

Take a look at your Finder window Settings (from Mac OS Ventura). You’ll find it’s called Preferences in earlier Mac OS X releases.

Finder Settings

Open a Finder window. And go to your Settings or Preferences.

Finder Settings Show External Disks

Make sure the box show ‘External Disks’ on your desktop is checked.

You’ll find it under the General heading.

Seagate Mac Setup – Format Your Drive

1. Log Into Your Mac. And Connect Your Drive.

Depending on the model of drive you may need an adaptor cable to plug into your Mac’s USB port.

2. Open Disk Utility.

You’ve free disk management software on your Mac. It’s part of your Mac OS X (operating system). The name of the software is Disk Utility.

You find it by doing a Spotlight search.

Click on the Spotlight icon at the top of your Mac’s desktop screen.

Spotlight Search Symbol

Then type in ‘Disk Utility’ and press the return key.

Disk Utility In Spotlight Search

Double click on Disk Utility to start.

3. Pick Your Seagate Drive Under External.

After Disk Utility opens. On the left hand side of the pop up window you’ll see a list. 

You’ll find your Seagate external drive listed under ‘External’. 

Seagate Click At Top Level

Click on your Seagate drive in the list.  The red arrow on the photo above shows you where.

It’s important that you pick your USB drive at the right level. Or your Seagate drive set up may not work.

Expand the list if you can’t see the levels. You do that by clicking on the down arrow to the left of the drive icon on the list.

You may need to change your Disk Utility view to see all the levels.

Click on View from the top menu on your Mac’s desktop.

Seagate Disk Utility View

From the drop down menu pick ‘Show All Devices’.

Click your external hard drive at the top level.

4. Click On Erase.

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

Select Erase

Now you’re taken to the next pop up window. There you’ll put in how you want to set up your external hard disk for your Mac.

But wait a moment.

Before you set up your Seagate drive on your Mac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

Are there any important files on the Seagate external hard disk you want?

Because continuing to set up and format your external drive means you’ll lose any files on the drive.

And then you’ll be seeking the services of a Data Recovery Company. Or Data Recovery software to get that lost data back.

If you know there are files on your Seagate hard disk drive. Or Seagate external SSD (Solid State Drive) then copy them somewhere safe first. Then you can go ahead and format.

5. Name Your Seagate Hard Drive And Pick Your Format.

Seagate Format Pop

Choose and put in a name where it says Name.

Next pick your file format.

Mac OS Extended (Journaled) when formatting a drive that is right now in an ExFAT or NTFS format.

Even if you want to format to APFS. Or ExFAT but change the partition map. Because you have to choose Mac OS Extended first.

6. Pick GUID Partition Map For Scheme.

The next option you choose when setting up your Seagate drive for Mac is Scheme. 

Pick GUID Partition Map.

7. Click Erase Bottom Right.

8. When Setting Up As APFS Or ExFAT.

Run through the steps 3 and 4 again. And the second time under format you pick APFS or ExFAT depending on what you want.  Be sure to pick GUID Partition Map for scheme.

Then click on the Erase button to format.

In a few moments the setting up of your Seagate storage device on your Mac will be all done.

When Disk Utility is finished you can get rid of its pop up window.

And in a few seconds your Mac will show your Seagate external hard drive on your Mac’s desktop.

Right click and pick eject on your Seagate External drive’s icon when you’re done with your drive.

Seagate External Hard Drive Setup For Time Machine

Plug in your Seagate external drive’s USB cable.

In Mac OS Ventura Onwards

1. Open System Settings.

System Settings From Apple Menu

Scroll down to General. Click there. Then Scroll down to Time Machine and click that option.

System Settings General Time Machine

2. Click The Button Add Backup Disk.

System Settings Time Machine Add Backup Disk

Pick your Seagate drive, then click Setup Disk.

System Settings Time Machine Seagate Expansion Setup Disk

Your Mac will then format your Seagate hard drive as a Mac drive. And set your drive up for Time Machine.

3. Set Up To Show Time Machine Icon In Menu Bar

You can set your Mac to show the Time Machine icon in your Mac’s menu bar.

In System Settings click on Control Centre. Then scroll down to Time Machine. Then Click the option ‘Show In Menu Bar’.

System Settings Time Machine In Menu Bar

In Earlier Mac OS Releases

1. Open System Preferences. Double click on Time Machine to set up.

Time Machine in System Preferences

2. Click Select Disk In Time Machine.

Seagate Time Machine 1st Window

3. Pick your Seagate external hard drive. Click Use Disk.

Seagate Time Machine 2nd Window

4. Put a check in the box ‘Backup Automatically’.

Your Mac’s Seagate Time Machine backup will start in a couple of minutes.

For the full walk through please take a look at this article on the site. Seagate Time Machine on how to set up a backup.

Right click on your Seagate external HDD when your backup is done. And pick Eject from the menu that comes up.

Seagate Right Click Eject

In Closing

I hope you enjoyed this post. While you’re here why not check out the other Seagate articles on the site.

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