WD My Passport For Mac And Windows Title Image

Whether it’s because you’ve a Windows PC you use at work.

And when you’re home it’s easier for you to continue your work on your Mac.

The question you’re asking yourself is:

Can I use my WD Passport For Mac and Windows PC?

The answer is Yes.

And in this article you find inspiration to do just that.

Follow the text and pictures. And learn the few steps it takes to set up your WD My Passport for Mac and Windows.

High Level View Of The Steps To Make WD Passport Work With Mac And Windows

1. You plug in the WD My Passport Into Your Mac

2. You format your My Passport to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. 

3. Next you format your drive to an ExFAT file system.

4. After that you can use your Passport external hard drive on both Mac and PC.

And the whole thing takes only a few minutes to do.

Plugging In Your WD My Passport Into Your Mac And Windows PC

Before you start, you’ll need to connect your drive.

You’ll either find this super easy and straight forward. Or you may need a cable or adaptor depending on the Mac and PC you have.

Your Western Digital My Passport drive uses an external hard drive standard called USB 3.0.

You don’t need to understand the ins and outs of this standard. It’s enough to know that the different USB standards define the speed the drive works at.

And the plugs used to connect the hard drive to your Mac or your Windows PC. The connection types are also known as ports.

Your WD My Passport portable drive has a USB B micro port.

Its cable comes with a connection for the USB B Micro port for the hard drive. And at the other end, the end that connects to a computer has a USB A connection.

That end looks like this.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

What If You Bought A WD My Passport For Mac?

The cable supplied with the ‘For Mac’ version of this hard drive is different. It still has the Micro B connection for your WD drive. But on the other end it has a USB C port.

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

Check The USB Port You Have On Your Mac And On Your Windows PC

You may have a USB A port. Or on the newer Macs and Windows PCs you may have a USB C port. And find you’ll need an adaptor cable or device.

The USB standard is thankfully backwards compatible. So as long as you have the right cable or adaptor, you’ll be fine.

How To Make WD Passport Work On Mac And Windows

You’ll use your Mac to format your WD external drive to use on Mac and Windows.

You’ll find it’s better to format your drive on Mac.

Because Macs can be choosy about their formatting.

And throw up issues when you format on a Windows PC. And then you use the drive on your Mac.

Setting up your WD drive on your Mac moves any of these issues out of the picture.

Important Side Note:

My Passport comes with Western Digital software already on the drive. WD Discovery which includes WD Drive Utilities, WD Backup and WD Security.

If you plan on using this software in the future. Copy the software off your drive before you start.

Because making your WD My Passport compatible with Mac and Windows clears all files off your portable storage.

1. Turn On Your Mac And Log In.

Plug in your WD My Passport’s USB cable into its Micro USB B port. Then plug the other end into a USB port on your Mac.

The WD My Passport gets its power from the Mac and the drive’s LED light will start flashing as it powers up.

2. Look For The External Hard Drive Icon On Your Desktop.

Or your Mac may give you a message asking whether you would like to format the WD My Passport drive.

If your Mac has asked that question select Yes.

If it hasn’t, you’ll see an icon on your desktop like this.

External Drive Icon On Desktop
External Drive Icon On Desktop

Your WD My Passport drive not showing up on the desktop?

Open a Finder window. And click on Settings (Mac OS Ventura). In earlier Mac releases it’s called Preferences.

Finder Settings

Check the box ‘External Disks’. It’s under the General tab.

Finder Settings Show External Disks

Now you open up a piece of disk management software on your Mac. It’s called Disk Utility.

You’ll use Disk Utility to format your WD drive.

You find Disk Utility in the Applications folder on your Mac.

Applications Folder In Dock
Applications Folder In Dock

Inside the Applications folder you’ll see the Utilities folder. Double click on that.

Utilities In Application Folder
Utilities In Application Folder

Then double click on Disk Utility.

Disk Utility In Utilities Folder
Disk Utility In Utilities Folder

Your other way is to search for Disk Utility via the spotlight search.

You can find Spotlight search at the top of your desktop.

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

Click on spotlight search and type in ‘Disk Utility’.

Disk Utility In Spotlight Search
Disk Utility In Spotlight Search

Double click on Disk Utility to open it up.

3. Choose Your Western Digital My Passport External Drive.

WD My Passport Disk Utility Select External Drive
Select External Drive WD My Passport in Disk Utility

You click where I’ve circled on the above picture. You click at the ‘top level’ – where you see the WD My Passport drive first listed.

A small arrow to the left of your Passport external storage shows the levels.

If the drive levels are not showing, click on Disk Utility > View.

Disk Utility Show All Devices
Disk Utility Show All Devices

Pick the option to show all devices.

Then your drive and the volume will appear.

Then you’ll be fine to select your drive at the top level. Pick it where the red arrow show.

Now take a look at the top of the Disk Utility screen and click on the Erase option.

WD My Passport Disk Utility Erase Option
WD My Passport Disk Utility Erase Option

4. Give Your External Passport Mac Drive A Name.

On the next screen of Disk Utility you will be able to enter a new name for your WD My Passport drive. Why not choose a name that reflects is use on both Mac and Windows PC?

WD My Passport Disk Utility Formatting Page
WD My Passport Disk Utility Formatting Page

For the drive format select Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

And the Scheme is GUID Partition Map.

Click on Erase.

In a few moments you’ve formatted your WD external hard drive.

You’ll format your WD My Passport drive twice.

Once as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. The second time as ExFAT.

This is because to format your drive as ExFAT from NTFS. It has to be formatted as Mac OS Extended first.

And then you’ll have your WD My Passport hard drive compatible with Mac and Windows PC.

5. Pick Your WD Hard Drive A Second Time.

WD My Passport Disk Utility Select External Drive
WD My Passport Disk Utility Select External Drive

Double click on Erase.

6. Then Select The ExFAT Format.

You have just formatted the WD Passport drive as a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. This time select ExFAT from the format drop down menu.

WD My Passport Selecting ExFAT on Disk Uitility
WD My Passport Selecting ExFAT on Disk Uitility

Leave the partition map as GUID as before.

Then Select the Erase button at the bottom right of the window.

Several short moments later you’re done.

Your Western Digital My Passport drive is now formatted to work on both Mac and PC.

And when you plug your My Passport drive into either you will be able to see the drive, read and write files. Copy and Paste files and create folders on both Mac and PC.

7. Ejecting Your Western Digital My Passport Drive

Never just pull out your USB cable either from your Mac or your Windows PC. You need to eject the drive first.

By ejecting the drive your computer can write anything it is still holding in its memory to the hard drive. And you’ll keep the risk of corrupting your files to the smallest possible.

To Properly Eject the WD My Passport Drive.

1. On your Mac. Put your cursor over the WD My Passport Icon on the desktop.

Right click. Next click on the Eject option.

Right Click to Eject WD My Passport Drive
Right Click to Eject WD My Passport Drive

2. Wait until you can’t see the Icon on the desktop.

3. Then check the LED lights on your WD My Passport drive. When they stop flickering and you have a steady constant light you know the drive is idle.

Then you’re free to unplug the USB cable.

An Alternative Way to Eject on your Mac or for Your PC

Go to the Finder Window on your Mac or the Explorer window on Windows PC. Right click on the file icon of your WD My Passport drive there.

Choose Eject.

Wait till the icon disappears and the flickering on the drive stops. Then you can pull out the USB cable.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why Didn’t My WD Passport Work On My Mac And PC?

Western Digital sells the WD My Passport with a file system called NTFS (New Technology File System).

A file system is how this Passport WD drive stores your all your files. Whether they are documents, photos or music on the drive.

Your Mac can read NTFS. So when you plug in the drive your Mac can see the documents. And you can copy them off onto your Mac.

But you can’t write any files back, update any of the documents or delete them. This is because all those actions mean the Mac has to write to the drive and it can’t.

To write to the drive you either need third party software that allows you to do that.

There is an article on the site all about this here.

Or you reformat the drive as I have led you through in the article.

2. Why Can’t ‘WD Passport For Mac’ Work On Windows?

The version of the Western Digital external storage sold in a ‘For Mac’ guise does not work on Windows. Not without some third party software or without reformatting.


Because the file system on the My Passport For Mac external hard drive is Mac OS Extended (Journaled). And this turns it into Mac portable storage – a drive for Mac.

This file system is also called HFS+.

A Windows PC can’t see, read, write to HFS+.

To share that drive between a Mac and Windows PC you need software. Software that translates HFS+ into something the PC can understand.

You can take a look at the software options in my article.

Or follow the steps in this article to reformat the drive to ExFAT.

3. How To Open WD My Passport For Mac On Windows?

Because your Western Digital portable drive has a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system (HFS+) written on it. Your Windows PC can’t see, or open the drive.

Your options are to use a third party software solution that sits on your windows PC. This software would allow your PC to see, read and write to the drive.

You can read all about it in this document on the site.

Or you can reformat the drive to ExFAT and freely open your WD external hard drive without any special software on it.

4. Why Do You Use The ExFAT Format?

Because both your Mac and Windows PC can read and write to ExFAT.

What does this mean?

Copy your documents onto an ExFAT formatted WD My Passport drive. And plug into either computer.

Whether it’s your Mac and or your PC it will see those documents.

And use those documents on both computers. If it’s your music collection you want to enjoy and listen to on both your Mac and PC, then you can with ExFAT.

Both a Mac and a Windows PC can also read and write to FAT32 formatted drives.

Why didn’t I suggest that?

And you may see some sites suggesting you format to FAT32.

But FAT32 has a file size restriction of 4GB. OK, so you’ll likely have file sizes smaller than that.

But as the older file system standard FAT32 is slow.

Much slower than ExFAT. And ExFAT can store a file up to 16 Exabytes in size.

These days ExFAT is the file system to choose for your modern Mac and Windows PC.

To Close

You’ll find it so much easier when you can work on your documents from either your Mac or a Windows PC.

And see the photos you have stored. Or hear your favorite tunes on your Mac or PC.

You’ll find other documents on the site all about your My Passport portable hard drive.

Why not take a look?

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    1. Hi Angela, Please take a look at the warning in the post. You need to copy off any files you want on drive BEFORE you format. Because after you’ve formatted and made the drive compatible with Mac and Windows. The only way to get files on the drive back is to use disk recovery software. Or a disk recovery service. And there is no guarantee you’ll get your files back. Follow the warning and copy your files off first. – Simon

    1. Hi Helena, Yes. Erase does delete any files that are on the My Passport drive. There’s a grey boxed warning before the steps telling you what to do in the article. Thanks for your comment. It’s a good reminder of this. Simon

  1. Got a “Passport” as a gift, but couldn’t get it to work. Followed your instructions and now works well on both my MAC and ASUS. Step by Steep Guide was excellent. Greatly appreciate your advice.

    1. Hi Bob,
      I am so glad that you followed the post and now your My Passport works well on your Mac and your ASUS. Well done you for taking the time to follow the post and sorting it all out. All the best Simon

  2. I have put off doing this job for LITERAL YEARS. I have a “My Passport” which I backed up photos and music from my old laptop and was only ever able to read on MacBook. As my MacBook space has become limited I’ve always found it frustrating I couldn’t just put them on “My Passport” too. Your step by step guide was so easy to follow, and it’s now working a charm! Thank you so much!!

    1. I’m so glad you decided to be brave and have a go. Well Done to you Claire. I’m so glad the article got you sorted.

  3. These instructions were amazing. Thank you for taking the time to include screenshots and step by step.

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