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How to Use HFS+ Format on Windows

by Mrinal Saha
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HFS is default file system for MAC and iOS device. This means if you are only going to use your external hard drive on MAC, then it’s best to format your drive to HFS+. However, if you later decide to use that on Windows, it won’t work.

saving files from HFS explorer

But don’t worry, there are workarounds. You can format your hard drive to FAT32, exFAT and use it on both Windows and MAC. Or if you want to keep your HFS format then use HFS Explorer. With this software, you can read the content of HFS formatted HDD on Windows. Though there is no write option.

Here is a detailed video why external HDD do not work with all operating system and what can we do about it.

Use HFS+ Format on Windows with HFS Explorer

Follow the steps

1. Before installing HFS explorer, you need to install JAVA on your computer. However, this can be little tricky for a newbie but it is also important. So here is a small overview.

java on yoru computer

JDK contains all the files require to developing JAVA application. If you already running JAVA on your computer (like Android app development) then you already have it installed and you can skip this step.

Server JRE is for deploying JAVA application on the server. This is not important in our case.

JRE is for running JAVA application on the user computer. If you have no idea about what the above two means, then you have to install JRE or java runtime environment on your computer.

So go to its download page, download the latest version of JRE (Windows x64 .exe file is around 54 MB). If your operating system is 64-bit then install x64 version, else install x86 version for 32-bit system.

To find out which version of windows you are running go to Control Panel\System and Security\System.  And look for system type. (see screenshot)

2. Once done with the downloading, run the setup and install it like you install any software on your computer. It’s always a good idea to restart your computer after installing a software.

install java

3. Next, download HFS Explorer from its official website and install it on your computer. Again restart your computer.

install hfs explorer

4. Now, open HFS explorer as administrator (it’s important to run it as admin or you will not be able to detect the drive)

run as admin- HFS explore

5. The program will still not recognized your device, to fix that go to file > load file system from device > auto detect > That’s it. you will see your files

HFS explorer autodetect file system

To download files on your hard drive, select the folder > click on extract > specify the location where you want to download it and hit OK.


HFS explorer is free, but it only lets you read files from your external HDD. But say you want to do both i.e. read and write files then you will have to buy Paragon HFS explorer (20$). To see how it works, I install 10-days trial version.

10 days trial version of paragon hfs explorer

And unlike the free HFS explorer which open in the hard drive in a separate software, Paragon HFS explorer opens the drive in windows explorer — just like a normal NTFS drive. Overall, you will feel no difference while using HFS drive on Windows.

Also see:

How to Use External HDD (NTFS/ HFS+) on Android

How to Use NTFS Drive on MAC – 3 Ways

How to Format Hard Drives on Windows, MAC , Linux and Android

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