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FAT32 or NTFS, which one is compatible with MacBook Pro?

Hi. I just bought a MacBook Pro (13.3 inches). As the internal storage is not much, I am thinking if buying an external hard disk. Please guide which format of external hard disk (fat32 or NTFS) is compatible with my Mac. Thanks.

Best Answered by

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

Amanda Wong

Answered on Wednesday, November 22, 2023

FAT32 is compatible with MacBook Pro, while NTFS is not.

When you format an external hard drive on Mac, you will be asked to choose a file system format for the drive in Disk Utility, including APFS, Mac OS Extended, MS-DOT(FAT), and exFAT. Only these file formats are supported by macOS. 

FAT32 is compatible with both macOS and Windows, if there is an external hard drive formatted with FAT32, you can use it on both MacBooks and Windows PCs. In addition, exFAT is also supported by both macOS and Windows.

However, NTFS is not compatible with MacBook Pro. It is a Windows-exclusive file system, you can only read NTFS drives on Mac but can't write to it by default. But there are some methods to enable NTFS write on Mac as well:

  • Enable NTFS write via Terminal. (Apple ceased it on macOSVentura)
  • Create Windows partition using Boot Camp Assistant to use NTFS drive.
  • Format NTFS drive for Mac. (It deletes all data)
  • Use a professional NTFS driver for Mac such as iBoysoft NTFS for Mac.

If you are going to format a new external drive for Mac, you can choose a macOS-exclusive file system including APFS and Mac OS Extended, or macOS- and Windows-compatible such as FAT32 and exFAT. In case there is already an NTFS drive and you want to use it on Mac, the easiest way to access it is using an NTFS drive for Mac.

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