WD External Hard Drive Mac And PC Title Image

A recent user on the site asked.

WD external hard drive for Mac and PC. Is it possible? Can I use a Western Digital drive for both Mac and Windows?

Mactakeawaydata User

The answer is yes. Most of the WD external drives are aimed at the Windows PC marketplace. And so are NTFS formatted.

But there’s no reason why you can’t use between a Mac and a PC as well.

You just reformat your WD hard drive. Or for that matter your solid state drive (SSD). And transform your drive to a format either computer can read and write your files to.

Read on to find out how.

How To Format WD External Hard Drive Mac And PC

Walk through the following steps to format your WD storage device. So that your whole drive can be seen by your Mac. And by your Windows PC.

Connect your WD hard drive to either.

Have your WD portable hard drive for Mac and Windows. Or use your desktop WD drive on Mac and Windows.

And even if your WD drive is one of their external SSD drives with super fast transfer speed.

Use these steps so both your Mac and PC can use and see any file your save to the drive.

I’m suggesting that you format your Western Digital drive on your Mac. Because Mac’s are sensitive about their file formats. Creating your shareable WD storage space on your Mac gets around this.

An important thing to note is. Formatting wipes off any files you have on your WD external hard drive.  If you have files on there you want to keep and use.

For instance. You may plan to install and use the WD Discovery install files already on the drive.

If you do. Then copy them off onto your Mac or PC first.

1. Plug In Your WD External Storage.

Plug into your Mac’s USB Port using your external drive’s micro b cable. For those WD drives that have a type A USB connector on the end that plug into your Mac.

You’ll need a USB C adaptor.

For those drives where Western Digital ships a USB type C cable you just plug right into your modern Mac.

Then within a few moments you should see your external drive on your Mac’s desktop. It’ll look something like this.

WD Elements Drive Icon

But will have the name of your Western Digital drive under the icon.

Can’t see your external drive on your Mac’s desktop?

Check your finder preferences.

Open a new finder window. And from the finder menu at the top of your desktop pick the preferences option.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

Check the option to show ‘External Disks’ on your desktop. You’ll find it under the General tab.

Finder Preferences Show External Disks

CLICK HERE: To Read A Review On WD Elements On Mac

2. Start Disk Utility.

Disk Utility is part of your Mac OS X operating system. And that makes it free software for you to use. It’s your Mac’s disk management software.

You can do a search for Disk Utility in any finder window.

Or simple click on it inside your Utilities folder. And the Utilities folder you’ll find inside your Applications folder.

3. Click On Your WD External Drive.

When your Disk Utility window opens up look to the left hand side of the window. To its sidebar.

WD Elements Disk Utility External Drive

That part of the windows shows you all the drives on your Mac.

Your Mac’s internal disk drive is under the heading ‘Internal’.

Don’t touch anything under there.

The ‘External’ heading is where to put your attention. 

Your WD external storage you’ll find listed right under the heading.

What you want to see are 2 entries for your hard drive. Or external SSD. 2 levels.

You may need to click on the small arrow to the left of your drive’s name to expand the list.

If you can’t expand the list then you’ll need to change your Disk Utility view.

Look at the top of your desktop.

Click on View. And from the menu.

WD Elements Disk Utility View

Choose ‘Show all Devices’.

Then go back to your external drive under the External heading. And expand the list.

Click to select your Western Digital external storage.

Be sure to pick it at the top level. The arrow in the Disk Utility picture shows you where.

It’s important you choose your WD drive at the top level. If you don’t, you’ll have all sorts of problems formatting your WD storage drive.

4. Then Pick Erase.

Look to the top of your Disk Utility popup window.  And in the button bar you’ll see the Erase button.  Click on that.

Select Erase

Don’t worry you’re not quite Erasing yet. You’ve a few more settings to fill in.

In the next window.

5. Give Your WD External Drive A Name.

The first field you’ll see on the popup window is the name field.

Put in a name for your external WD storage space.

WD Elements Disk Utility Formatting

You’ll actually be formatting your external hard disk twice. 

The first time formatting. You change the default NTFS formatting to Mac OS Extended Journaled file system.

And from there you can then format to ExFAT. It’s a little quirk of Mac OS.

In the next field pick Mac OS Extended file system. You can click up down arrows at the end of the field to open a list. That list shows you all the available file system formats.

In the next field you select GUID Partition Map for the scheme.

Then click on Erase on the bottom right of the pop up window.

In only a few instants your Mac formats your hard drive or SSD.

CLICK HERE: To Read A Review On WD My Passport For Mac

6. Then Format Your External Drive ExFAT.

Run through steps 3 and 4 again.

This time you pick ExFAT for your file system format.

WD Elements Disk Utility ExFAT

Pick GUID Partition Map for the Scheme as you did before.

7. Click to Erase.

Click on the Erase button.

And in a few instants more. Your external Western Digital drive is ExFAT formatted.  

Your external hard drive or SSD drive’s icon appears on your Mac’s desktop.

And your drive is ready for you to use on Mac and Windows.

Double click on the drive icon and a finder window opens up on your external drive. Then you can create folders or copy files from your Mac into this window. And onto your drive.

Be sure to Eject your drive from your Mac when you’re done. And when you’re ready you can plug your Western digital drive into your PC and use your drive there.

And freely share your drive between the two.

WD External Hard Drive Compatible With Mac And PC

Western Digital sells some drives like the SanDisk Extreme Portable. They come already ExFAT formatted. You won’t have to format those drives for Mac and PC as they are already compatible.

However, if you do find you have trouble with those drives working reliably. And because Mac’s are particular about their external drives.

You may well need to follow these steps and format those drives on your Mac anyway.

The Western Digital ‘For Mac’ drives like WD My Passport and My Passport Ultra. Are portable drives shipped formatted just for Mac. You would use the steps above to change from a Mac hard drive. T

o one you can share between a Mac and a Windows computer.

Other NTFS formatted drives. Like WD Elements or the My Passport drive that’s not for Mac, come with a PC file system. A Mac can read those drives but can’t write to them. So, you can’t truly share between a Mac computer and a PC.

You follow the step here to format those drives to ExFAT so they are shareable.

One thing to note. An ExFAT external WD disk is not compatible with Time Machine. So you can’t use a drive formatted this way for a Time Machine backup.

Format WD Drive For Mac And Windows Using WD Software

Western Digital provides their own disk management software – WD Utilities. It’s part of WD Discovery. The WD Discovery install files are shipped for free on their drives.

WD Utilities also allows you to format your Western Digital drive.

But beware. Some Mac users have had issues with WD Drive Utilities software on their Macs.

And for that reason. I’d recommend using software that’s already on your Mac – Disk Utility to format your drive for Mac and PC.

In Closing

And now you know how to format WD external drive for Mac and Windows.

For sure formatting your Western Digital hard drive or SSD drive can be a daunting task.

But with the steps here you should have your drive formatted. And be sharing with your Mac and PC in just minutes.

While you’re here why not check out our other closely related articles on the site.

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