OS X: How Can I Access exFAT drives with my Apple Computer?

   Posted December 1, 2010 by David Kirk in Apple Mac

exFAT is a relatively new file system introduced by Microsoft with the Vista OS. It is frequently used in Windows 7 installations as well. Many Apple users need the ability to access exFAT drives — especially shared external hard drives. Can Apple computers use exFAT drives?

As previously discussed in our exFAT versus FAT32 versus NTFS article, exFAT is a good modern update to Microsoft’s file system. However, previously Apple OS X users have had difficulty accessing exFAT drives.

However, with OS X update 10.6.5, Apple fully supports accessing exFAT drives.

Once you update Snow Leopard to the latest update, you should have full access to exFAT drives without any difficulties.


About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • SultrySophist

    Thanks for the tutorial…?

  • Al Santana

    In the previous article comparing exfat, ntfs, fat32, it said exfat was designed for flash drives only. does that mean it will not work with an external 7200 rpm hd? I have a client who needs to be able to review video on a pc and edit on mac.

    In your opinion, is efat the best formatting solution. I work on Mac Pro and OS X 10.6.8
    Thank you.

    • David Kirk

      @Al – I’ll just be honest that I don’t know the best solution. FAT gives the most compatibility but you are heavily restricted on size which could be an issue with size. ExFAT allows bigger files but it is much slower and you lose compatibility with older versions of windows and osx. Both Windows and OS X have bugs that can eat your data so never trust your data on these external devices.

      Most serious video editors requires additional software on both the mac and PC side. On the Apple side most people use NTFS writing software such as Tuxera which allows the Mac to write NTFS. On the Windows side, most video people use HFS+ software such as MacDrive to allow reading and writing of Mac formatted drives. Staying with the higher-end, proven software packages means you have less chance for losing your data.

  • Richard Lowe

    What about exFAT compatibility with iOS 6.X.X, as used on iPhone, iPad and iPod?

  • Non of your business

    As I have experience this is not always true. If I format it with the mac it’s OK, however my black system for my car does the formatting, windows has no issues with it, Mavericks won’t mount it.