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Summary. An external hard drive that is formatted as NTFS for Windows will be readable on an Apple computer, however it won’t be possible to save to the drive or make any changes to it. To have read/write access to the drive, it will be necessary to format it as MS DOS FAT 32.

Configuration. Follow these steps for proper configuration of a drive for use on both Apple and Windows computers.

  1. Format the Entire Drive as NTFS. If the drive has become corrupted for some reason, it may be necessary to begin by formatting the entire drive as NTFS on a Windows Vista computer. This process is to prepare it for use on the Apple computer. Otherwise, skip to step #2 below.
  2. Format Drive or Partition as MS DOS FAT 32. This can be done on an Apple computer using the Disk Utility software (found in Hard Drive > Applications > Utilities). The entire drive could be formatted as MS DOS FAT32, or it could be partitioned to have Apple Mac OS Extended (benefits), Windows NTFS (benefits), and/or Windows MS DOS FAT32 partitions. Some Apple programs may perform better using an Apple formatted drive.
  3. Format Partition as NTFS. If the advantages of NTFS are desired or needed, then connect the drive to a Windows Vista computer. If the computer icon is on the desktop, then right click on it and choose Manage. If not, from the start menu, find the computer icon, then right click on it and choose Manage. In the Navigation pane, under Storage, click Disk Management. From there, right click on the drive you are interested in modifying for a context sensitive help menu. Be careful not to accidentally format or repartition your working drive.

The drive should now offer read/write access on both Apple and Windows computers for the Windows MS DOS FAT 32 partition.

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