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Format Compatibility between Windows and Mac OS
Reference Number: AA-00291 Views: 12865 Last Updated: 2014-11-26 09:34
Is there a file format that can be used to move data between Windows and Mac operating systems via USB drives? 

The highest compatibility between various operating systems is FAT32.  This format should be generally usable on all systems, Windows, Mac and Linux, However, FAT32 has the limitation that file sizes must be less than 4GB to be written to the formatted volume. 


For file sizes greater than 4GB a different format is required.  While there is no perfect solution, here are some of the options:

  1. Format to Windows NTFS.  Full compatibility is offered on Windows platforms.  Mac OS can read but not write NTFS volumes.  Write compatibility on Mac requires a third party utility.
  3. Format to Mac HFS+.  Full compatibility on Mac platforms is provided.  However, a third party utility is needed to read and write on Windows platforms.
  5. Format to Windows ExFAT.  This format allows read and write compatibility on Windows platforms (Windows XP and up) and on Mac Intel based platforms (OS 10.6 and up.)  Older systems do not recognize the format.  Incidentally, Linux OS does not generally recognize a drive formatted to ExFAT.

Choose the format that best suits your overall requirements.

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