When I shop for third-party external hard drives I'm struck by how much more expensive the drives that are advertised "for Mac" are, when compared to those without such qualification.

My question is: is there a good way to use a "non-Mac" external hard drive on a Mac?

  • 1
    Any drive which has the right interface (USB2 or Thunderbird) will work. Do you have a specific example for a "for Mac" drive which is more expansive than it's "non Mac" sibling?
    – nohillside
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 20:06
  • @patrix:I don't have exact "sibling" pairs, but when I look for drives at a vendor's site, if I restrict to "mac", the cheapest drives (for a fixed capacity) are always significantly more expensive than those I get if I remove that restriction...
    – kjo
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 20:11
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    I find that 'For Mac' usually means that it also has a Firewire port on the back. Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 2:35

1 Answer 1


The 'for Mac' drives usually mean that they've been formatted to be able to be read/write in OS X (therefore almost always formatted as Mac OS Extended). It could also mean that the software that comes with the drive works on OS X.

To get a 'non Mac' drive to work in OS X, just Erase it in Disk Utility with Mac OS Extended as the format. You almost never need the provided software.

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