I need to move large files (5-5Gb) from a Mac to a Linux machine.

Network transfers are too slow, so I wanted to use USB drives.

However filesystems seem to be a bit of a nightmare: HFS+ is hard to read on Linux, NTFS and Ext4 are hard to write on Mac.

Any advice on what's the best way to do that?

  • If you want to use what's natively supported out of the box, so-to-speak, in both Linux and OS X then FAT32 is it. You'd have to write the files from OS X to the USB drive using split splitting them in half for example as FAT32 has a 4 GB individual file size limit and then use cat on Linux to joint the pieces back together. Otherwise the path of least resistance would be to install what's necessary to read (and write)` exFAT` under Linux as OS X can work with that natively and handles files over the 4 GB FAT32 limit. Jan 19, 2016 at 15:08

2 Answers 2


You can use exFAT but you may have to install the packages on Linux. Probably along the lines of:

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

This has the benefit of read/write in Windows as well.

  • Works perfectly - thanks. I just had to format the drive on Mac first. OS X would not recognize it when I formatted it on Linux.
    – simone
    Jan 19, 2016 at 21:36

If you're only using files not bigger than 4GB and a drive smaller than 2TB, you can go with FAT32 (which also works on Windows). Otherwise I'd go with exFAT as well, but sometimes Windows gets problems writing to that as I experienced.

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