WD Elements For Mac Title Image

Are you wondering is WD Elements compatible with Mac?

And what about –

Can you use your WD Elements on a Mac?

The answer is yes it’s compatible. And yes you can use on your Mac.

Your Western Digital Elements external drive works peachy on Mac.

And you’ll find here what you need to know.

To use WD Elements for Mac.

Is Your WD Elements Drive Read Only. Or You Can’t Update Your Files?

When shipped. Your Western Digital Elements external drive in a format called NTFS.

What’s that?

NTFS is a Windows PC file system format.

Your Mac will see and read your NTFS Elements drive.

And that means you can copy off files and work on them on your Mac.

But when you’re ready to put documents onto your drive. Or update any files on the drive. Your Mac says no.

Your Elements external hard drive seems read only.

Don’t fret.

You can change this formatting.

Just reformat your drive for your Mac. You’ll see how later on in this article.

Plugging In Your WD Elements USB Cable Into Your Mac

Your WD Elements portable hard drive comes with a USB 3.0 type A cable on the end that plugs into your Mac.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

Why is that important?

Is your Mac an iMac 2017 or later? Or MacBook Pro 2016 or newer?

Or MacBook Air 2018?

If your answer is yes.

Then your Mac will have a USB C ports on it.

USB C Thunderbolt 3 Ports
Mac with USB C Ports

You can use your WD drive. But you’ll need an adaptor to plug the USB cable from your Elements hard drive into your Mac.

Get a type A USB 3.0 to USB C adaptor.

Or a USB cable with USB micro B on one end and USB C on the other.

You’ll find adaptors. Or replacement USB cables are easy to get on-line.

And should your Mac be an older Mac with USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 ports.

Then the cable in your Elements box works fine.

Using Your WD Elements On Mac?

Your WD Elements drive is bus powered.

What does that mean?

It means your Elements external drive gets its power from your Mac.

Your USB cable powers your WD drive. And transfers your documents backwards and forwards to your drive.

WD Elements USB Cable
WD Elements USB Cable


Because you won’t have a separate power plug to carry around with you.

But because your WD Elements portable drive gets its power from your Mac. Check that your Mac has enough charge.

Or plug in your Mac so that you won’t run out of power while you’re using your Elements drive.

Looking to buy a WD Elements external hard drive to use on your Mac?

Then take a look at this quick but thorough WD On Mac Review.

WD Elements Flat

Can You Format Your WD Elements For Mac?

Yes, it’s easy,

And it only takes around 5 minutes.

To use your Western Digital Elements drive natively on your Mac. You need your Elements drive in HFS+ format.

This format is also called Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

Don’t worry about the name.

Just know that it’s a file system that your Mac uses and understands.

And means that you can copy and paste. Or drag and drop files from your Mac onto your WD Elements drive. 

It’s also the format your Mac needs so that you can use your Elements drive for your Time Machine backup.

It’s the format to use when you want to use your WD Elements drive just for your Mac.

Or across more than one Mac.

How Do You Format Your WD Elements For Mac?

You use software that’s already on your Mac called Disk Utility.

But if you’ve files already on your WD drive then formatting will remove them. Copy them off somewhere safe first.

Here’s an outline of what you do.

1. You Start Up Disk Utility.

2. Click On Your Elements Portable Drive.

WD Elements Internal External drive list
WD Elements Internal External drive list

3. Click Erase On The Disk Utility Window.

Select Erase
Select Erase

4. Give Your WD Elements Drive A Name.

Pick Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for Format. And GUID Partition Map for Scheme.

5. Click Erase Bottom Right.

And in a few moments you’ll be done.

For more a more detailed walk through you’ll find an article here on the site. Follow this link.

How You Format Your WD Elements Hard Drive.

WD Elements LED

How Can You Use Your WD Elements Drive Without Reformatting?

Formatting will erase any documents you have on your WD Elements drive.

So if you’ve already used your Elements external drive on a Windows PC.

And you’ve put files on there. Erasing might be the last thing you want to do.

You could copy those files off onto a Windows PC. Or onto your Mac and change the drive to Mac OS Extended.

But what if what you really want to do. Is use your drive on your Mac without changing anything on there.

Then there’s a software solution for that.

It’s called driver software. It leaves your Elements drive exactly how it is. In NTFS formatting. And the driver software translates NTFS for your Mac. And allows your Mac to write to your drive.

It’s the option to choose when you mainly use your WD Elements drive on your Windows PC. And only sometimes you use your Elements hard drive on your Mac.

You can read my document here all about it.

But what if you don’t want extra software to maintain and keep updated on your Mac?

Because you risk that each time your Mac’s operating system updates. You’ve got to wait until there’s a new version of the driver software.

Read on.

Using Your WD Elements Drive On Your Mac And A PC

Using Your WD Elements Drive On Your Mac And A PC

And without special driver software?


You can.

And it’s pretty easy to set up.

Just format your Western Digital Elements hard drive on your Mac and use ExFAT format.

You use ExFAT because a Windows PC can’t see. Or use a Mac OS Extended (journaled) formatted drive. That formatting is strictly for Macs.

ExFAT is freely read and writeable by both your Mac and Windows PC.

Both operating systems can see an ExFAT file system.And use the files, photos, movies, music. In fact any files on your Elements drive where you have software that can read and use those files.

Just remember that applications made for Mac. Work on Mac. And applications made for a Windows PC work on PC’s. You can’t swap application software.

You’ll use software already on your Mac called Disk Utility to format to ExFAT.

Find out how you can Format your WD Elements external hard drive for Mac and PC. Via this article link.

WD Elements Flat

What About Formatting WD Elements On Mac To FAT32?

You’ll find old articles around on the web suggesting the FAT32 format.

And yes you could set your Mac to format your Elements portable drive to FAT32.

FAT32 is compatible with Mac and Windows.

But these days the FAT32 file system is outdated. Not as reliable. And you’ll have file size restrictions.

ExFAT is the file system of choice when formatting your WD Elements for Mac and PC.

Mac Using WD Elements – Some Basic, Sticky, Wrinkles

Plugged In And Your WD Elements Drive Wont Show Up On Your Mac?

You’re logged into your Mac.

Plugged in your WD Elements external hard drive. You’re looking for your WD drive icon on your Mac’s desktop.

New Drive Icon On Desktop
Drive Icon On Desktop

But it’s not there?

What now?

The first thing for your to check is your Finder Window Preferences.

Open up a finder window.  Go to preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

In the finder preferences pop up window. Be sure you’ve checked the ‘External Drive’ box under the General tab.

Finder Preferences Show External Disks
Finder Preferences Show External Disks

Then your WD drive’s icon should appear.

What If Your WD Elements Is Still Not Showing Up On Your Mac?

  • Plug into another port on your Mac. You may have a hung port.
  • Shut down and reboot your Mac to clear any problems with your Mac’s software on its USB ports.
  • Try another USB cable. Sometimes USB cables break inside and it’s difficult to tell from the outside.
  • Try plugging it into a Windows PC. Does your Elements hard drive show up there? If your Elements drive still doesn’t show up you may have a broken drive.

Your WD Elements Drive Not Working Reliably On Your Mac?

Does your Western Digital Elements hard drive work.

Then later not work on your Mac?

1. When you formatted your WD drive did you check that the format scheme was ‘GUID Partition Map’?

You’ll have problems with using your drive without setting the scheme right.

And the wrong scheme. Maybe you forgot and the drive is using the same scheme it had when it was NTFS formatted.

And that’ll mean odd problems with your Elements drive. While you use it.

2. Try repairing your Elements portable in Disk Utility.

Using the First Aid option.

That may solve your problem.

If the drive is in a poor state First Aid may well tell you to erase your drive.

Which means starting from scratch and loosing the files on there.

Try to copy them off first.

3. Did you download Drive Utilities from the Western Digital site onto your Mac?

WD Drive Utilities allows you to run a check on your WD Elements drive.

See if the WD Utilities software reports any errors on the drive.

4. But did your drive problems show up after you downloaded the WD Utilities software?

Double check you’ve a version of the Western Digital software that works with the version of your Mac’s OS.

You could have problems caused by the WD Drive Utilities software clashing with your Mac OS.

5. One more thing to try if you’ve WD Drive Utilities loaded on your Mac.

Uninstall the Western Digital Utilities software.

If you’re having problems with your WD external drive working. And then not.

And for no good reason you can see.

Then get rid of the WD Utilities software.

Sometimes the driver software just causes problems on Mac.

Use the WD Uninstaller.

You’ll find it in your Mac’s Application’s folder.

And your on and off issues with your WD Elements portable should then go away.

Why Won’t My Western Digital Elements Drive Backup?

Having problems with your Time Machine backups failing to your WD external drive?  Often this is another type of conflict with the WD Disk Utilities software and Mac.

Check the software version you’re using.

Is it for your version of Mac OS?

Try uninstalling the WD Disk Utilities.

And then see if your Time Machine Backup issues go away.

In Closing

Yes, WD Elements offers well priced basic storage for your Mac.

And it works great on Mac.

Use the tips here.

And have your WD Elements formatted. So you can read and write your docs. Or backup your Mac to your Elements hard drive.

Related Articles

You can discover other articles on the site all about your external drive.

Why not check them out?

WD Elements VS My Passport Which is Best for Your Mac?

WD Elements Partition Mac, 6 Steps to Partition Fast

Format WD Elements for Mac and PC, Have your Drive for Both

WD Elements Time Machine, Turn ON Your Backup