How to read formatted (HFS + and APFS) USB flash drive on Mac in Windows: 4 ways

Windows and macOS use different file systems – for hard drives for Windows it is NTFS, for macos it is HFS + (in newer versions it was replaced by APFS). External hard drives and USB sticks are formatted in another Windows-supported standard – FAT32, macOS “understands” this format. But…

It often happens that an external drive or flash drive is not created on a Mac in FAT32 – and, therefore, Windows cannot read the information on the device. Below we will discuss how to “teach” the Microsoft operating system to understand “someone else’s speech.”

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1. Installing Apple HFS + Drivers (HFS +, Read Only)

If all you need from the files on the flash drive is reading, there is an option with the installation of the appropriate software from Apple for Windows.

Important: make sure there is no Paragon or MacDrive software on your Windows computer before installing the drivers. If they are already installed, remove them.

Download the appropriate Apple HFS + driver here, then do the following:

  • Copy files ApplsHFS.sys and AppleMNT.sys in C: Windows System32 drivers
  • Combine the file Add_AppleHFS.reg with your windows registry.
  • Restart your computer.

The entire installation process is shown in detail in this video:

In the meantime, there is no need to know about it. ”

After rebooting, if everything is done correctly, your Windows PC should recognize the connected USB flash drive or external hard drive.

If you want to not only read, but also edit files on removable drives, then one of the following methods will suit you.

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2. HFSExplorer (HFS +)

Price: Free


The only free solution to solve our problem.

Note: Windows and Java administrator rights are required to run. Yes, ideally it would be nice to live without the “Java” in general, but in this case, you will have to either install it or pay money.

HFSExplorer is very easy to use. Simply connect your Mac-formatted external drive to your Windows computer, open the program, and then select File – Load File System From Device. HFSExplorer will automatically recognize, mount and open HFS + devices. Files on a USB flash drive can be unzipped and transferred to Windows.

Note: keep in mind that HFSExplorer is read-only, i.e. you won’t be able to change files on your Mac stick or delete them. In addition, the program does not integrate with Windows Explorer – files are available for work only in the HFSExplorer application, and to work they must first be copied into the Windows environment.

Download HFSExplorer

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3. Paragon HFS + for Windows and Paragon APFS for Windows (read and write)

Price: 1440 rubles, there is a trial period for 10 days

Paragon driver foe Windows

We pay money – but we get full access to read and write on a Mac-flash driveconnected to a Windows computer. Besides, working with files is carried out at high speed, which cannot be said about the previous program. Why, Paragon HFS + (or APFS) for Windows integrates HFS + (or APFS) with Windows Explorer! As a result, any application can read and write files formatted in an incomprehensible “poppy” format. It’s convenient – and safe, because you don’t need to install unsafe Java on your computer.

And yes – if you need to read HFS + (or APFS) – a USB flash drive for Windows once in your life (and this is most often the case), then a 10-day “trial” is enough for you, you won’t have to buy anything.

Useful advice: if you encounter the error “inaccessible_boot_device”, boot into BIOS, specify IDEA in SATA settings, boot into Windows Safe Mode, do System Restore, then return to BIOS and set the old setting in the SATA section – AHCI.

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4. MacDrive (HFS +, read and write)

Price: $ 50, with a free 5-day trial


The most expensive option of all. Like Paragon’s solution, it offers full read / write access via Windows Explorer and high speed. There are also tools for recovering and splitting a disk into parts – and everything in the file systems familiar to Mac.


Download MacDrive

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