Normally, when I want to take video files from my Mac to friends who use Windows, I move the files on a FAT32-formatted flash drive or external hard drive, but FAT32 cannot handle files larger than about 4GB.

I could archive the file into some multi-part format (e.g., RAR) or I could use some not-quite-perfect userspace filesystem drivers (MacFUSE) on the Mac to write to an NTFS-formatted disk, but it seems like there should be a better way. What other options are there?


4 Answers 4


If you are under 10.6.5 or later and Windows Vista or above, you can format your memory stick or usb hard drive to exFAT, a newer version of FAT with large file support and almost unlimited partition size. It has no permissions to speak of so it's perfect to transfer files around.

Older systems will not see it however.

I use this file system on my external 1TB WD hdd and it works beautifully.

  • Does 10.6 read exFAT natively? Or through MacFUSE? Feb 14, 2011 at 8:53
  • @Wolff: Natively, since 10.6.5 Feb 14, 2011 at 18:18
  • 2
    +1. This appears to be the best solution, though I'm waiting to test the reading-on-Windows side until at least later tonight. I hadn't realized that OS X had gained ExFAT support. Also, according to Wikipedia, WinXP can read ExFAT with an update from Microsoft.
    – Isaac
    Feb 14, 2011 at 19:02
  • I've now verified that it worked to move to a WinXP box updated with the special ExFAT update, so I'll assume that Win7 should be no problem. Thanks!
    – Isaac
    Feb 15, 2011 at 20:47

You have five options:

  1. Network transfer through FTP or Samba directly to a NTFS drive on the windows machine
  2. External drive with NTFS filesystem, which of course is the one of the best ways to do it on an external drive, [edit-add] though you would need some additional software on the Mac's end to be able to write to the NTFS partition.
  3. Multipart archive, like you said above.
  4. Use some software on the windows machine to read HFS partitions. In the past I've tried the trial of MacDrive and it worked quite well, but is paid software. There may be some alternative to it.
  5. (bonus) Do a hackintosh setup on the windows machine, so you can read HFS partitions :)

  6. (edit-add) With an external harddrive with NTFS partition and a VirtualBox with linux on it. You can then upload the files through virtualbox, as linux supports writing to NTFS partitions through NTFS-3g. This would be the the "hackiest" way, but it would come at no money cost, because all of the software is free (virtualbox, linux(easiest is ubuntu))

  • +1. I'd suspected 1 was an option, though it'd mean bringing an OS X machine with me to do the transfer; unless something's changed, for 2, OS X still cannot natively write to NTFS; I'm tempted to try 4, but I'd rather avoid installing software on the Windows box; 5 would actually be my preferred solution, but it's not my machine, it's probably not compatible hardware, and it's currently running Windows 7 Media Center, which I think is still smoother than anything similar on the Mac side.
    – Isaac
    Feb 14, 2011 at 19:06
  • Option 1 is not necessary to bring the machine, except if both are behind firewalls(or routers) which you don't have access to. You can forward ports on one of the machines and you are in. As for option 2 - i've edited my answer, forgot the part about additional software. Also i've added an extra option you can use, which may be is the best choice :)
    – bisko
    Feb 15, 2011 at 11:05
  • For option 1, asymmetric connection speed (my upstream sustained speed tops out at 1 Mbps) makes it impractical to do remotely. Option 6 is probably the second-best, only behind basilmir's suggestion of ExFAT (it'd probably be easiest to use a live-CD distro inside virtualbox).
    – Isaac
    Feb 15, 2011 at 14:02
  • @Isaac i see ... well connection speed is definitely a bummer in your case :) As for balsimir's suggestion - I must say that I didn't see it until now :) It is a lot better if it works as it sounds, you should try it.
    – bisko
    Feb 15, 2011 at 14:50
  • 1
    I just verified that the ExFAT solution does in fact work, so that is the best way, at least for my specific situation. I didn't know 10.6 had ExFAT support until that answer, either.
    – Isaac
    Feb 15, 2011 at 20:48

Y'could use ext3 and then install Ext2Fsd in Windows, though you're still using a userspace filesystem driver in that case (albeit one maybe better than MacFUSE's NTFS driver?)...


My solution to this is to partition a drive into two partitions: one for actual data formatted as exFAT and one small partition for variants of exFAT driver for WinXP, latest 10.6.x combo update and 10.5.8 Combo update and Paragon beta exFAT driver for 10.5.8 (I've got it during their beta test and since I've never used don't know if it has any time limit=). And I format that small partition in NTFS under Windows so it will not become corrupted with improper eject like FAT32 usually do. Probably I should cover Linux also but I'm not knowledgable about it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .