I just got a MacBook Pro for my parents, and I need to get their files from a Linux desktop machine that most likely has either reiserfs or ext3 file systems.

I would like to know if Snow Leopard can read these files if I put the HDD in an external HDD case??


  • OS X definitely can't read FreeBSD UFS file systems.
    – Owen
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 15:28
  • The question text does not match the question title.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 16:53

4 Answers 4


It might be easier to connect the machines on a network and use rsync, nfs or ftp to copy data, no extra software would be needed.

If you want to do this you will need MacFuse which allows OS X to read other file systems. A tutorial for ext3 is on this blog.

  • Thanks. I'll try the network option this coming weekend.
    – fnord_ix
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 19:17

If you are planning on doing this a lot, there are commecial packages too:


There is a free alternatives also though through MacFuse/FUSE:



Mac OS X can read (but not necessarily write):

  • HFS+ (Mac OS X default format, in plain, journaled, case-sensitive, or journaled/case-sensitive varieties)
  • NTFS (but not write, by default)
  • FAT (32 and 64 as seen in Christian Correa's comment)

I would expect it can read but I haven't tested it:

  • HFS (the older Mac OS file system [Hierarchical File System])
  • UFS (Unix File System; older versions of OS X could format and be installed on UFS partitions)

I know for a fact that OS X will not read:

  • ReiserFS
  • ext* (any of the various versions of the ext Linux file system)
  • just about anything else

Check out the Mac OS X column at the incredibly complete Wikipedia article comparing file systems.


Disk Utility can format a new hard drive using the following formats:

  • Mac OS X format
  • Mac OS X format (Journaled)
  • FAT32 (MS-DOS)
  • FAT64, also known as exFAT

I believe those would be the same file systems that the operating system can read.

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