The storage solution you choose will depend on your needs. Generally, replacing your existing hard drive with an internal hard drive or solid state drive (SSD) can provide additional built-in storage at top speeds, while a stand-alone hard drive or external SSD gives you greater flexibility and enables you to expand storage capacity at any time, as you need it, quickly and easily. How to Move Your Mac files to a Windows PC. Connect your external drive to your Mac, open the drive and select File. Select New Folder. Type Exported Files' and hit Return.

While you can physically connect a Mac hard drive to a Windows PC, the PC cannot read the drive unless third-party software is installed. Because the two systems use different file systems for storage: Macs use the HFS, HFS+, or HFSX file systems, and PCs use either the FAT32 or NTFS. Luckily, if the drive type (e.g., SATA, IDE, or SCSI) is compatible with your motherboard, there are a few solutions to this dilemma.

NoteExternal hard drive for mac laptop

NTFS and FAT drives open natively in macOS.

Formatting a partition

You can delete a Mac-based HFS, HFS+ or HFSX partition and format it to be usable with a PC. If there are any files you want to keep, copy them from your Mac hard drive to another storage device, then review the page linked below.

Third-party software

Through the use of third-party software, Microsoft Windows can be configured to read a Mac hard drive. Free programs are available, but they have fewer features and are not as easy to use. One of the best free programs is HFSExplorer. If you are willing to pay, MacDrive and TransMac cost about $50. They do a good job of allowing users to view the contents of a Mac hard drive on a PC due to their user-friendly interfaces. There is also a $20 solution from Paragon called HFS+ for Windows.

Additional information

Backing up your Mac is simple and important. We recommend it for everyone.

Back up with Time Machine

Time Machine is the built-in backup feature of your Mac. It’s a complete backup solution, but you can use other backup methods as well.

Create a backup

Store files in iCloud

You can also use iCloud and iCloud Drive to store files, such as your photos, documents, and music.

Set up iCloud and iCloud Drive

Restore your Mac from a backup

When you have a backup, you can use it to restore your files at any time, including after the original files are deleted from your Mac.

Restore from a backup

Prepare your Mac for service

Making a backup is an important part of preparing your Mac for service, especially because some types of repair might require erasing or replacing your hard drive.

Get your Mac ready for service

How much space do I need for a backup?

To see the size of a specific file or folder, click it once and then press Command-I. To see storage information about your Mac, click the Apple menu in the top-left of your screen. Choose About This Mac and click the Storage tab. For Time Machine backups, it's good to use a drive that has at least twice the storage capacity of your Mac.

Related topics

Free up storage on your Mac

macOS can save space by storing your content in the cloud. This isn't a backup, but it includes new tools to make it easier to find and remove large or unwanted files before you make a backup.

Use Optimized Storage in macOS

Erase or format a storage device

You can use Disk Utility if you need to erase or format a storage device.

Internal Hard Drive For Mac

Learn how to use Disk Utility

Hard Drive For Macbook

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If you can't back up your Mac

Mac Laptop Hard Drive Replacement

We'll find the best support options for you.