Windows format on an Apple computer

August 3, 2009 – 3:32 pm

Windows format on an Apple computerI usually get asked general questions about computers where I work and today was no exception. I had recommended a small external hard disk drive about a year ago for backing up important data from his computer. Today (about a year later!) I was asked a follow up question… “can I put music on the external drive for my Mac?”

Of course I answered. I mean, the drive isn’t that big, as I recall a 500GB drive being purchased, but it can be used for storing anything (legality isn’t my problem to deal with for him). He told me that he was going to have a friend format the drive on his Macintosh computer and put music on it. Though the drive was originally purchased for the purpose of backing up his family’s photos and files, the less people back up and the more they need my help for recovery, the more side business I get!

I informed my friend that he could easily format the drive on a Mac. As he thanked me and started walking away I heard him mumble about having to buy another drive later for his Windows PC. I interrupted the mumble and asked why another drive would need to be purchased, to which he told me that his friend was on a Mac and was told the formatted drive wouldn’t be usable on a Windows PC. I laughed a little (I do that a lot, mostly to irritate people because I’m a smart ass) and then offered slight help.

Since I don’t know the person’s ability or knowledge that was formatting the drive, I just simple recommended his friend format with an MS DOS file system. When he asked me how, I recommended his friend look into the Utilities folder on the Mac.

About 3 hours later I got this in an email: I’m sure your guy knows more than I do, but (at least on my laptop) there is no program in my utilities folder called “MS DOS”…I’m assuming that you told him I am working on a Mac…? Forward this to him, and see what his advice is…thanks.

Since the problem was now requiring a written solution intead of a verbal response, I wrote up something small and clean that even someone “working on a Mac…” could easily follow. I find this sort of odd that a Mac user isn’t familiar with their own operating system.

I see he’s brilliant.. good thing you are using such an ace for something like formatting your hard disk.

•Go to Finder -> Application -> Utilities
•Double click the Disk Utility
•Select the external Hard Disk you wish to format in the left column
•Click on the Erase tab
•At the “Volume Format” select “MS-DOS File System”
•If you confirm to format your hard disk for Mac and Windows, Click on the “Erase” button.
•A pop up window will ask to verify the erase procedure. Click the erase button again in the window to start the erase process.
•Once the erase process finishes, your external hard disk may be able to be used in Mac and Windows operating systems.

Unfortunately since I’m not on a Macintosh computer I’m not able to provide pretty screen shots and walk throughs that are more thorough, I’m hoping that the directions were easy enough to follow though.

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