When you’ve got a new Mac or you’re a new Mac user.
Getting a file from your Mac to any external hard drive is a dilemma. Because you simply don’t know how to go about it.
But transferring your files from your Mac computer isn’t hard.
And in this article you’ll find out how to do it.
How To Transfer Files From Mac To WD Elements At A High Level
1. Connect Your Elements external drive to your Mac using its USB cable.
2. In a Finder window on your Mac browse to your file(s).
3. Open a Finder window on your Elements drive by double clicking on its drive icon.
4. Highlight your files. Click on them and drag over to your Elements Finder window.
5. Drop your files in the Finder window of your Elements drive.
6. You’ve transferred your file(s). Eject your Elements WD drive when done.
Before You Can Transfer Your Files From Your Mac To Your Elements Drive
Before you can put files on your WD Elements drive from your Mac. Know that, when delivered your WD external hard drive is a NTFS drive.
What does that mean?
NTFS (New Technology File System) is a Microsoft based way of laying out an external hard drive. And is set up ready to be plugged into a Windows PC.
You can plug in your Elements external drive and your Mac will see it’s connected. Show you the disk drive icon on your desktop. And you can read all the files on the drive.
Copy those files to your Mac. But your Mac can’t write files. Or you transfer files to the Elements external hard disk.
Then you scratch your head. And google search the question.
How to put files on WD Elements from Mac?
You’ll need your Elements hard drive with a file system your Mac can not only read. But your Mac, MacBook Pro or Air can write to. So that you can transfer your files.
You do that by changing its current NTFS format using your Mac. Using software that’s a standard part of your Mac OS, Disk Utility.
Disk Utility reformats your external hard drive. And changes its file system.
You can pick the format of Mac OS Extended Journaled. It’s the traditional file system a Mac uses and has been around for years.
Or APFS (Apple File System). A file system format released with Mac OS x Catalina.
Note both of these file systems are for Mac only. A PC can’t understand them.
You also have the option of formatting as ExFAT. A Mac and a Windows PC can write to an ExFAT formatted Elements drive. Useful if you plan to share your external HDD.
You can find out how to format Your Elements for Mac by clicking on the link text.
Know that Disk Utility wipes your drive. So, copy any file you need off the drive before you format.
Disk Utility also allows you to split up a larger Elements external hard drive into partitions. And you can put those partitions in a file system format your Mac can move your files to. And you can transfer to.
How Do I Transfer Files From Mac To WD Elements
It doesn’t matter if you’re transferring one file or a group of files. Or if your Western Digital Elements is a portable hard drive. Or a desktop drive.
The way you move your files is the same.
1. Connect Your Elements USB To Your Mac.
Plug your external hard drive into your Mac’s USB port. Look for your Elements drive icon on your Mac’s desktop.
If your Elements hard drive icon doesn’t show up on your Mac’s desk top. Check your Finder Settings (Mac OS Ventura). In previous Mac releases it’s called Preferences.
Check this particularly if you’re on a new Mac and you’ve never used an external drive before.
And click the option to show external disks. And this will show your external drive on your Mac’s desktop.
2. Open A Finder Window.
And in that Finder window browse to the files you want to transfer over. You want them visible in the window.
3. Double Click On Your Elements Drive Icon.
This opens up a window on your Elements drive.
Now you have both Finder windows open. Move them so you can clearly see them both.
4. Highlight The Files You Want To Transfer.
Click on the first file or folder you want to put onto your hard drive. Hold down the shift key while you click to highlight the next file. Or move to the last file and shift and click.
You can create a selection. Click in an empty space near your files. Then drag your cursor across all the files you want to pick.
When you’ve highlighted all the files you want transfer.
Click and hold down your cursor. Do this while you move your cursor over to the window on your Elements WD drive.
5. Drop Your Files Onto Your Elements Drive Finder Window.
When your cursor is over the Finder window of your Elements drive.
Lift off your cursor key. Unclick. And your files will transfer across.
If you’re moving many files. Or the files are large. They will take a little time. Your Mac will show you a progress bar of your move.
6. Your Files Are Transferred.
When your files are on your Elements external hard drive. And you’re transferring your files. And so finished with your drive.
Remember to Eject your drive.
Right click on your drive icon and pick Eject from the menu.
When the files you’ve transferred over are your crucial files. It’s a good idea to have a copy of them.
So that only copy of your files isn’t only on one WD Elements drive.
Because an external hard drive doesn’t last forever. And if your drive gets damaged or fails for any reason. The last thing you want is to use data recovery services. Or data recovery software. Data recovery is a cost with no guarantee of results.
Take a backup copy of your Elements external drive with your important files and folders.
What Files Can I Transfer To My Elements Drive From Mac?
Any files on your Mac. Your folders, spreadsheets. Your music, videos or movies. Applications and their program files.
You can move your Photos too. By transferring your system photo library to your Elements external hard drive.
You’ll find that file under your home folder > Pictures folder.
On an older Mac operating system you’ll be using iPhotos. Apple replaced iPhotos with the Photos App. Both libraries are in the same place in Mac OS.
You can use the steps above to transfer your photos library to your Elements drive.
Then simply point Photos, or iPhotos at where your new photos library is. On your Elements external hard drive.
To do that.
Startup Photos. Go to Photos, Preferences. Click on the General tab. And you can click ‘Use As System Photo Library’. To choose your library on your Elements drive.
This Apple document has more info.
Backup Transfer Your Files From Mac To Your Elements
When what you mean by file transfer. Is creating a Mac backup with Time Machine.
You first need your WD Elements formatted so it’s compatible with Time Machine.
When you format to use your entire Elements drive as a backup storage device.
Pick Mac OS Extended Journaled file system format.
Or since the Mac operating system Big Sur you can pick APFS (Apple File System).
You can also create a partition for your Time Machine backup using those formats. Just ensure it’s a large enough partition. About twice the size of the data you’re backing up.
Note. You can’t do a Time Machine Backup to an ExFAT file system.
When your drive is in a compatible format for Time Machine. You can let your Mac OS know you want to use your Elements external hard drive. By going into System Preferences. Picking Time Machine and selecting your Elements drive.
It’s quick and easy to do. To learn more.
Head over to this Elements Time Machine post on the site.
Transfer Files To A Partition On Your Elements Drive
Set your WD Elements partition so it’s writeable by your Mac.
And that means Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition. APFS or ExFAT.
Use Disk Utility to set up and create them.
This post here will show you how. Partition Elements For Mac.
Then to transfer your files.
1. Double Click On Your Elements Partition Icon.
You’ll see it on your Mac’s desktop
Each partition will show as an icon.
Double click to open a finder window on that partition.
2. Open A Finder Window On Your Mac. Find And Highlight Your Files.
With your transfer files highlighted.
3. Click And Hold. Move Your Cursor To The Elements Partition.
4. Release Your Click To Drop Your Files.
And you’ve transferred your files to your Western Digital Elements partition.
And now you should be transferring your files to your Elements drive like a pro.
It’s pretty straight forward to do.
And helps you free up space on your Mac, MacBook Pro or Air. Because you can now use and work on those files from your WD Elements drive.
Now, why not take a look at the other great articles available on our blog?
About Simon Irons
As an admin I spend my day helping folks with their Mac issues. From the guy at work, through to unofficial 911 support for family and friends. I swear they have me on speed dial.
For fun I like testing out and playing with new stuff. I think Apple make the best products on the planet.
In my spare time I like to fish and play around with boats.