How To Use WD Elements External Hard Drive On Mac Title Image

A WD Elements hard drive as storage is a great way to store your data today.

But not everyone uses a WD Elements desktop storage. Or the Elements portable drive on their MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iMac.

When you’re using a Mac, you might be wondering. How you can use this PC orientated external hard drive with Mac. There are a few different ways.

And after you have your Elements drive in a format your Mac understands. Essentially you use the Elements external hard drive just like a USB stick. And this article talks you through how.

Please read on.

How To Use WD Elements External Hard Drive On Mac: A Summary

A WD Elements external hard drive ships NTFS formatted. And that makes it plug and play on a Windows PC as an NTFS drive.

To use on a Mac, you’ll need to reformat it on your Mac using Disk Utility. You format to a file system your Mac operating system can read.

Disk Utility is disk management software that’s part of your Mac OS. Formatting is easy and only takes a few minutes to do.

How To Use WD Elements On Mac: Begin Here

Connect your Western Digital Elements hard drive to your Mac’s USB port.

You’ll notice that the Elements USB cable has a type A cable end on the part that plugs into your Mac.

USB A Cable End

That’s fine for older Mac’s. But modern Mac’s have USB C ports. The superspeed USB cable provided is compatible with new Mac’s. You’ll just need to get yourself an adaptor to use on your newer Mac’s USB port.

Plug in and in a few moments your Mac will see your Elements hard drive. And show you it’s drive icon on your Mac’s desktop.

WD Elements Drive Icon

No Elements drive icon showing you’re your Mac’s desktop?

Then adjust your Finder Preferences. Open a new finder window and from the menu at the top of your Mac’s desktop pick finder preferences.

Finder Preferences

From the pop up window make sure you’ve clicked the General tab. Then put a check mark in the box ‘External Disk’.

Finder Preferences Show External Disks

Then your Elements external hard drive’s icon will show on your Mac’s desktop.

Now you’re ready to set up your Elements external drive for your Mac. You’ll need to format your hard drive using Disk Utility.

But Beware: If you have any files on your Elements external drive you want to keep. Copy them off first.  Because formatting your drive will wipe any file on there.

1. Start Disk Utility.

You’ll find Disk Utility in Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

2. In The Pop Up Window Click On Your Elements external drive.

Check you can see all levels of your Elements hard drive.

WD Elements Disk Utility View

Then click on your hard drive right where it appears under the ‘External’ heading.

WD Elements Disk Utility External Drive

Then click on Erase. You’ll find it along the top of your Disk Utility pop up window.

Select Erase

3. Set Your Elements Drive Format Settings.

Give your drive a name, Set the format as Mac OS Extended Journaled. Since Mac OS x Catalina you can also pick APFS (Apple File System).

Set the Scheme as GUID Partition Map.

WD Elements Disk Utility Formatting

Then click Erase to format your drive.

You’ll find an article here on the site with more information and detail on Formatting a WD Elements for Mac.

Western Digital provides their own disk managements software. And it ships the install files on your WD Elements external storage. WD Discovery can install WD Security and WD Drive Utility.

WD Drive Utility allows you to format your Elements storage space. But some Mac users have reported issues. Problems using their WD external drive on their Mac after using this software.

So, it’s best to use Disk Utility. Your Mac computer’s native software to format your hard drive.

Want To Use WD Elements For Both Mac And PC?

Simply pick the ExFAT file system format when you format your drive.

ExFAT is readable and writeable by both a Mac and a Windows PC.

You can find out more about doing this at this article on the site. Format WD Elements For Mac And PC.

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CLICK HERE: To Read A Review On WD Elements Portable Hard Drive For Mac.

How Do I Use WD Elements For Mac For My Files?

Now that you’ve formatted your Western Digital Elements. You’re ready to start using your hard drive on your Mac.

Use WD Elements By Creating Folders

Double click on your Elements hard drive icon. It’ll be there on your desktop.

WD Elements Drive Icon

This opens a Finder window. And this is your window onto your drive. Everything you do in this window. Or copy to this window goes onto your drive.

WD Elements Open Finder Window

Click in your Elements hard drive window. And this means you’re working on your external storage.

Then at the top of your Mac’s desktop screen.

Pick File. Then New Folder to create a new folder.

Finder Create New Folder
Finder Create New Folder

Your Mac gives your new folder a default name of untitled. Click on the Untitled text. And then you can give the folder any name you want.

Create your folders and use them to organize the files you copy onto your WD external hard drive.

Copy And Pasting Files On To Elements Storage From Your Mac

Copying and pasting files. Or transferring files from your Mac to your Elements hard drive is straightforward.

You’ll need two windows open.

One on your Mac’s internal hard drive. or Mac’s internal SSD.

WD Elements Both Windows Open

And by double clicking on your Elements drive icon you open a window on your Elements drive.

In the Finder window on your Mac’s drive. Browse to the files you want to copy and paste to your Elements external hard drive. And highlight them on your Mac.

You can click the first file. And shift and click to select more files.

Or use a selection window. Click in a clear area in the finder window with your files in. And drag your cursor across all the folders or files you want to copy to highlight them.

WD Elements Mac Highlighted Files

Right click on your highlighted files. Then pick Copy from the menu.

Click into your Elements hard drive Finder window.

Right click. Then Paste.

WD Elements Right Click Paste

And in a few moments your files will copy across.

If you’re copying a lot of files. Or those files are large your Mac will show you a progress bar while the files are copied across.

You can find out more from this document on the site here. How To Add Files To WD Elements On Mac.

You can then. If you want delete those files on your Mac to free up space.

But watch out if the only copy of your files are on your Elements external USB drive.

Because no drive lasts forever. Have two Elements drives. One as a copy of the other. So, your key files are in more than one place.

Using Your WD Elements External Hard Drive With Time Machine

After you’ve formatted your Elements drive you can set it up for a Time Machine backup.

Format your Elements drive as Mac OS Extended Journaled file system. Or APFS since Mac OS x Big Sur. To do:

1. Open System Preferences.

Apple logo top left of your desktop. Then System Preferences.

2. Pick Time Machine.

Click on Time Machine inside System Preferences.

Time Machine in System Preferences

3. Set Up WD Elements In Time Machine.

WD Elements Time Machine 1st Window

Be sure the ‘Back Up Automatically’ box is unchecked for now.

Put a check in the box ‘Show Time Machine In Menu Bar’.

Then click the ‘Select Backup Disk’ button.

4. Select Your Elements Drive.

WD Elements Time Machine Pick Drive

Click on your WD Elements storage in the list. Then click on the ‘Use Disk’ button.

You’ll be taken back to the previous pop up screen. And now you can put a check in ‘Back Up Automatically’ box if you want.

That way Time Machine will kick off a backup when your Mac computer is connected to your external drive.

5. Start a Manual Backup.

You can wait for your automatic backup to start if you checked the box. Or you can manually start a backup right now.

Look at the top of your Mac’s desktop for the Time Machine symbol.

Time Machine At Top of Desktop

And from the menu that comes up pick ‘Backup Now.’

Time Machine Backup Now

You can get more detail from this article on the site. WD Elements With Time Machine. Click on the highlighted text.

When You’ve Finished Using your Elements Western Digital Hard Drive

While you’re using your Elements hard drive. Your Mac holds your file data and other information about your drive in memory.

You’ll need to eject your Elements storage. And not just plug out it’s USB cable from your Mac.

Ejecting let’s your Mac write everything it needs to from its memory. Down to the file system of your drive. Eject and you won’t risk corrupting the files on your drive.

Eject your drive after you’ve copied the files you want to your drive. Or your Mac backup is complete.

To Eject, right click on your Elements drive icon. And pick Eject from the menu.

WD Elements Right Click Eject

In Closing

We hope you enjoyed this article about how to use WD Elements external hard drive on Mac. With this knowledge, we know that you can make the most of your external HDD on your MacBook Pro. Or MacBook Air or iMac.

So, what are you waiting for?

And while you’re here do take a look at our other articles on the site about the Elements external drive.

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