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

By Simon Irons / September 28, 2019
Seagate Expansion On Mac Title Image

Are you asking yourself … Can your Seagate Expansion be used with a Mac?

Along with the question is your Seagate Expansion compatible with your Mac?

The answer to both questions is a big Yes!

It doesn’t matter whether you have a 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB or 5TB Seagate Expansion.

You can have it and use your Seagate Expansion on your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iMac.

And you’ll find out all the things to know and keep in mind. Right here in this article.

Is your Seagate Expansion Compatible with Your Mac?

When you buy your Seagate Expansion you’ll find no mention of it working on a Mac.

Nothing, Nada on the box.

Like the majority of the external hard drives out on the market your Seagate Expansion is formatted as NTFS.

NTFS means that your Seagate Expansion will plug straight into a Windows PC.

You can use your Seagate Expansion on Mac.  But you’ll need to reformat first.

Something that only takes a few minutes to do and is easy once you know how.

You’ll find out how later.

Plugging in Your Seagate Expansion Into your Mac

When you plug your Seagate Expansion drive into your Mac your drive gets its power from your Mac.

All the documents and files you want to send to your Expansion travel down its USB cable. Along with the power your drive needs to work.

Your Seagate Expansion has a USB cable with a type A connection at the end for you Mac. And a Micro type B USB at the end that plugs into your Seagate Expansion drive.

Seagate Expansion USB 3.0 Cable
Seagate Expansion USB 3.0 Cable

Your Seagate Expansion on Your Pre Late 2016 Mac

This USB cable will plug straight into all those Macs with type A USB ports.

Those are Macs before the late 2016 models.

Your Seagate Expansion works faster than your older Mac. And could receive your documents faster than your Mac could send them.

But because of backwards compatibility. Your Seagate Expansion will receive your files at USB 2.0 speeds.

Your Seagate Expansion on Your Post Late 2016 Mac

For those of you with newer MacBooks. Those with Thunderbolt, USB C or USB 3.1 ports you’ll need an adaptor cable.

The USB type A and USB C connections are physically different but compatible. 

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

You can easily get these cables from Amazon.

*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. And at no extra cost to you this site earns a commissions through these links.

My preferred USB cables to use for Macs with Thunderbolt ports are;

1. Apple USB-C to USB Adaptor

2. AmazonBasics USB Type-C to Micro-B

You can use the links above to view them on Amazon.

Though USB C and Thunderbolt ports are much faster. Your Mac works out how fast your Seagate drive can go. And will send over your files at the speed your Seagate Expansion can take.

If you want a more detailed explanation of the different USB ports on Mac with images. You can find them in this article on how to connect an external hard drive to your Mac.

Seagate Expansion Easy Connection to Mac
Seagate Expansion easy connection to Mac

Starting to Use Your Seagate Expansion on Mac

Power up your Mac. Log in.  And plug your USB cable in.

If you need an adaptor then you’ll need to put that on before plugging in.

It’s worth checking that your Mac has enough battery power for the Seagate Expansion. Or plug your Mac into external power.

Once you’ve plugged in your Seagate Expansion, your Mac will take a few seconds.

Then your Seagate Expansion drive’s Icon will come up on your Mac’s desktop.

External Drive Icon On Desktop
External Drive Icon On Desktop

Depending on your operating system release. Your Mac may well offer to format your Seagate Expansion right away.

If you know there are documents you want on your Seagate Expansion drive.  Documents put on there by a Windows PC. Say no to the formatting.  Copy those files off first before formatting your Expansion external hard drive. Or you’ll loose those files.

A Bit About Using Your Seagate Expansion in NTFS on Your Mac

Your Mac can read your Seagate Expansion in its NTFS format.

This means that you can copy files that are on your Seagate Expansion to your Mac and use them there.

But you can’t copy them back onto an NTFS formatted Seagate Expansion.

Or edit or change any files on your Expansion drive.

You can buy yourself some NTFS driver software and use your Seagate Expansion as it is. 

This software will allow you to read and write files to your Seagate Expansion. And without changing anything on there. 

If you want to know more about this option then take a look at my article here.

Mac Drive Icon

How do You Format Your Seagate Expansion For Mac?

When you want to use your Seagate Expansion freely on your Mac the best way is to format.

When you want to copy and paste your work documents, holiday photos or music. Or drag and drop your Excel spreadsheets. Or backup your Mac to your Seagate Expansion with Time Machine.

The best format to choose when you plan to use your Seagate Expansion only for your Mac is Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

And formatting only takes minutes. 

To do:

1. Log into your Mac and plug in the USB cable.

Do this to connect up your Seagate Expansion drive. 

In a few moments you’ll see the drive icon on your desktop.

If your Seagate Expansion’s drive icon doesn’t appear on your desktop. Check your Finder preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

Check the boxes ‘Hard Disks’ and ‘External Disks’ to show your Seagate Expansion on your Mac’s desktop.

Finder Preferences Show External Drive
Finder Preferences pick to Show External Drive

2. You Start up Disk Utility.

Go to your Mac’s dock at the bottom of your desktop.

Click on the Applications folder.

Applications Folder In Dock
Applications Folder In Dock

Inside that folder you’ll find the Utilities folder.

Double click to open the Utilities folder.

Double click on the Disk Utility program.

Disk Utility In Utilities Folder
Disk Utility In Utilities Folder

3. Once Disk Utility has started up.

You’ll see all the drives connected to your Mac on the left hand side.

Your Seagate Expansion will be listed under the ‘External drives’ heading.

Seagate Internal External Drive List
Seagate Internal External Drive List Circled in Yellow

Click on the Seagate Expansion at the top level.

Select Seagate Expansion at the Right Level
Select Seagate Expansion at the Right Level

This is important. If you don’t select at the right level you can get random errors with formatting your Seagate Expansion drive.

If you can’t see your Seagate Expansion drive listed then choose ‘View’ at the top of your Disk Utility window.

Disk Utility View Option
Disk Utility View Option

Then choose to show all the drives and the volumes and your Seagate Expansion should appear.

4. Then Select Erase.

It’s at the top of your Disk Utility popup window.

Select Erase
Select Erase

Erase is the part of the Disk Utility program that formats your Seagate Expansion drive.  

If you’ve used your Seagate Expansion on a Windows PC. And it has files on it you want to save. Copy them off first.

5. Put in the Settings for your Seagate Expansion’s Formatting.

The next popup window is where you select how you want to format your Seagate Expansion drive for Mac.

Seagate Expansion Format Pop up
Seagate Expansion Format Pop up

Give your Seagate Expansion a name.

Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for the format.

For the scheme choose GUID Partition Map.

Then click Erase at the bottom right of the window. 

Your Mac will now do its work. And within a few moments you’ll have your Seagate Expansion formatted.

Ready for you to copy your files from your Mac. Or drag and drop onto your Seagate Expansion.

How to Format and Partition Your Seagate Expansion for Mac YouTube Video

You can watch this 13 minute YouTube video by Tech & Design. The video explains the formatting process really well. Watch and use alongside my notes.

And even if you feel you’re technically challenged can see how easy this is to do.

Seagate External hard drive how to set up on a Mac

Video Credit: Tech & Design

How to Format Your Seagate Expansion for Mac and PC

When you’ve both Macs and Windows PCs and want to use your Seagate Expansion for both. The best format to choose is ExFAT.

Both your Mac and your Windows PC can read and write to ExFAT. And without you needing any special driver software.

But you can’t use ExFAT if you want to use the drive for a Time Machine backup.

To format your Seagate Expansion compatible with both Mac and PC, you follow the formatting steps above to step 5.

You still give your Seagate Expansion drive a name. But you pick the ExFAT file system instead of Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

You use the up and down arrows to the right of the format option to reveal all the other formatting options. There you choose ExFAT.

File System Formats
File System Formats

Don’t choose MS-DOS (FAT). That file system is old and has file size restrictions.

And you would only use it if you had to.

Say for those devices that must use MS-DOS (FAT) operating system. And yes there are still a few about out there.

Choose the ExFAT format.

And GUID Partition Map as the Scheme.

Then click on Erase.

Within a few minutes the whole drive will be formatted. And then both your Mac and a Windows PC can read and write to your Seagate Expansion.

Partition Your Seagate Expansion on Your Mac

Want to have a part of your Seagate Expansion for your Mac to use?

For you to copy your documents to. Or for you to use for a Time Machine backup.

And a part to share your documents with a Windows PC?

It’s a great way of using a larger 4TB or 5TB Expansion drive.

You can do this by splitting up your Seagate Expansion into different areas.

I have an article on the site that shows you how. It just takes a few minutes more.

Take a look at my article External Hard Drive for Mac and Window PC.

It covers the steps for partitioning a hard drive. And formatting each partition for what you need.

Now you have your Seagate Expansion all formatted ready to use. What now?

BackPack Icon

Carrying Your Seagate Expansion Around with your Mac

Seagate sells your Seagate Expansion as a portable.

And is a convenient size and weight to carry around.

But your Seagate Expansion portable drive is a mechanical drive.

And it has moving parts inside. Unlike a solid state drive.  Accidentally dropping your Expansion could well damage it. So it’s best to think about protecting your Seagate Expansion with a protective case.

Here are some of my preferred protective cases (Commissions Earned);

1. Lacdo Shockproof Carrying Case

2. Ginsco Hard Carrying Case for Portable External Drive

3. Amazon Basics External Hard Drive Case

Using Your Seagate Expansion To Drag and Drop files onto Your Mac

Is as easy and as familiar as using the internal drive inside your Mac.

The drag and drop commands you’re used to using on your Mac are the same.

On your Mac you drag and drop. Or copy and paste files from one Finder window to another on your Mac.

Instead you’ll be dragging and dropping. Or copying and Pasting from one Finder window on your Mac. To another Finder window on your Seagate Expansion Portable.

Now your Seagate Expansion is all formatted. You’ll see its icon on your desktop.

New Drive Icon On Desktop
New Drive Icon On Desktop

Double click on your Seagate Expansion’s icon and a finder window will open up.

New Drive Empty Finder Window
New Seagate Drive Empty Finder Window

You’re now able to create new folders on your Expansion hard drive. Just as you would on your Mac.

Finder Create New Folder
Finder Create New Folder

Open up a new finder window on your Mac. And move to the folder with the files you want to copy or move to your Seagate Expansion.

Use all the usual ways you normally pick your files. And drag them across to the finder window on your Seagate Expansion drive.

If the files on your Seagate Expansion are your only copy of your files.

Because if something happens to your Seagate Expansion then you could lose them.

Ensure you have a copy of them elsewhere. Or better yet buy two Seagate Expansions.

And have the second as a back up of your first.

Deleting Files from Your Seagate Expansion on Mac

When you’ve finished using your Seagate Expansion drive and have deleted files from it.

Be sure to empty your trash.

Do this before ejecting and plugging out your Expansion external drive.

Otherwise ghost images of the files could still appear on your Seagate Expansion.

When You’ve Finished Using Your Seagate Expansion on Your Mac

Be sure to Eject the drive from your Mac before plugging out your USB cable.

You do this by right clicking on your Seagate Expansion’s icon on your desktop. And then choose Eject.

Right Click to Eject External Drive
Right Click to Eject External Drive

How to Use Your Seagate Expansion to Backup Your Mac?

Time Machine is the software on a Mac that you’ll use to backup.

Time Machine will happily use your Seagate expansion for backup. You’ll need to format your Expansion drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

Take a look at the formatting steps above.

Connecting up your Seagate Expansion to Time Machine is a simple process.

To do;

1. Log into your Mac. Plug in your Seagate Expansion. And start up Time Machine. To find Time Machine go to spotlight search.

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

Type in System Preference and double click when it comes up.

Select Time Machine from the System Preferences window.

Time Machine in System Preferences
Time Machine in System Preferences

2. Once in Time Machine should you have a slider to turn Time Machine on or off turn it to on,

You can check the tick box for Time Machine to back up automatically.

Another useful checkbox is the one at the bottom of the pop up screen.

This shows Time Machine in the menu bar at the top of your desktop screen.

Check that box too.

First Time Machine Window
First Time Machine Window

3. Select Add or remove backup disk.

In this next pop up window your Seagate Expansion will be listed under available disks.

You’ll see it as the name you gave it when you formatted your drive. Or if you’ve created a partition to back up to, the partition name will be listed there.

Time Machine Available Drives
Time Machine Available Drives

Click on your Seagate Expansion.

And then click on ‘Use Disk’.

And that’s it, your Seagate is now set up with Time Machine.

4. To start a backup straight away on your Seagate Expansion. Look at the top of your desktop screen and click on the Time Machine symbol.

Time Machine At Top of Desktop
Time Machine At Top of Desktop

Then select ‘Backup Now’ from the Menu.

Time Machine Backup Now
Time Machine Backup Now

You can also click on the Time Machine symbol while your backup is happening. Then you check the progress of your Seagate Expansion’s backup.

And to check when your Expansion drive has finished your backup.

If this is the first you’ve backed up your Mac to your Seagate Expansion it could take a while.

Your Mac prepares your backup. Then it does the backup.

Be patient.

Plug your Mac into power and leave your first backup to happen over night. It’ll be all done in the morning.

You can read more about backing up your Mac in my article. ‘How to Backup a MacBook Pro to an External Hard Drive’.

Be sure to eject your Seagate Expansion from your Mac when your backup has finished.

And you’re ready to put your Seagate Expansion away.

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