How to Read Mac HFS+ Formatted Drives on Windows

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By default, Mac-formatted drives using Apple's APFS or HFS+ file systems are not recognized by Windows. As a result, when you connect the drive to the PC, you are only given the option to format the disks.

cannot read hfs+ on windows

The FAT file system is recommended if you intend to use the drive on both Windows and macOS. But what if you can't format the Mac drive? It's where third-party options come into play. To solve this problem, learn the three methods to read Mac HFS+ on Windows. You can use HFS Explorer and Paragon HFS+ for Windows or install Apple HFS+ Drivers.

Method 1: Read HFS+ on Windows Using HFS Explorer

HFS Explorer is a program that can read both Mac-formatted disks and file systems such as HFS (macOS Standard), HFS+ (macOS Extended), and HFSX (macOS extended with case-sensitive file names). It is required to have a Java runtime environment to use HFS Explorer.

How to Use HFS Explorer

Presented here are the step-by-step instructions to guide you on using HFS Explorer to read Mac HFS+ formatted drives on Windows.

Step 1. Download HFSExplorer for Windows for free. Install and run the program.

Note: To use this software, you will need Java. If your system does not already have Java installed, it will prompt you; otherwise, it will run normally.)

install the hfs explorer for windows

Step 2. Connect your Mac-formatted drive to your Windows PC and choose File > Load file system from the device from the menu bar.

load file system in hfs explorer

Step 3. Click the Load button.

load mac hfs+ to the hfs explorer

Step 4. The contents of the HFS+ drive will be displayed in the app window. Select the files or folders to copy, then click Extract to copy and save to a specified folder. The files or folders will be copied to the location you specify on your PC.

extract the data in hfs+ drive to windows

Once the setup is complete, the HFS explorer searches for and locates the HFS+ file system, granting access to those files.

Pros & Cons of HFS Explorer


It is entirely free to use

It has a simple user interface


A process may not access the file system at the same time

There are no snapshots

Other file systems have restricted native file support

The nanosecond standard is not used for timestamps

Checksums for data integrity are not present

Method 2: Read HFS+ on Windows by Installing Apple HFS+ Drivers

In 2017, the final code for Apple File System (APFS) was made available to the public alongside macOS High Sierra. Unless otherwise specified by the user, Apple's latest file system is the default for new installs and upgrades. It was created for flash-based devices, making it a suitable solution for scaling Apple's entire product line.

How To Install Apple HFS+ Drivers

Installing Apple HFS+ Drivers is another option for reading MacOS Extended drives on Windows. However, before proceeding, ensure that Paragon and Mac Drive are removed from the system. Presented here are the step-by-step instructions to guide you on installing Apple HFS+ Drivers.

Step 1. Download and install the Windows driver package. Then, extract the downloaded zip file. Then, copy the AppleHFS.sys and AppleMNT.sys files to your hard drive.

copy the applehfs.sys files to computer hard drive

Step 2. Copy the files to the C: Windows/System32/drivers/directory. The following step combines the Add AppleHFS.reg file with the Windows registry. Navigate to the downloaded folder and double-click the .reg file named Add AppleHFS.reg.

add applehfs.reg in windows drivers’ folder

Step 3. Click Yes and then OK in the prompt window. Reboot the system. Connect your Mac HFS+ drive to your Windows PC once the setup is complete. Navigate and find the Mac OS Extended formatted drive.

click yes on the apple hfs driver prompt window

This method will allow you to view all the HFS + files. It is also worth noting that the solution only enables users to read. You cannot use the above methods to edit or delete Mac-formatted drive files.

Pros & Cons of Apple HFS+ Drivers


It allows clones of the same file

Capable of producing point-in-time snapshots

For added security, it has full-disk encryption

Checksums are used to ensure the data integrity of metadata

Metadata corruption is avoided by creating new records rather than overwriting existing ones

It has improved performance

It has efficient store management, resulting in more free space


Checksums are only used to ensure metadata integrity, not user data

Compression is not an option

Only computers running macOS High Sierra can access encrypted volumes

Fusion drives are not supported

You cannot use NVRAM for data storage

Method 3: Read Mac HFS+ Using Paragon HFS+ for Windows

The Paragon HFS+ for Windows costs $19.95, but a 10-day free trial is available. If you need to recover files from a drive, you have 10 days to install this file system driver and copy your files.

How To Use Paragon HFS+ for Windows

The following are step-by-step guidelines for using Paragon HFS+ for Windows:

Step 1. Install the Paragon HFS+ for Windows.

install the paragon hfs+ for windows

Step 2. Connect the HFS+ Mac drive to your pc.

connect the hfs+ mac drive to windows pc

Step 3. The process is now done. Your drive should now appear in the file explorer.

find the drive in the paragon hfs+ for windows

Pros & Cons of Paragon HFS+ for Windows


It has stable performance and fat speed

The Mac file system is integrated into Windows File Explorer

It allows full read-and-write access to Mac drives formatted with HFS, HFS +, and HFSX

It enables Windows programs to read from and write to the Mac-formatted drive on Windows

Some extra features are worth the purchase


If they are bootable, the B-Tree will lose track of files, folders, and volume size, and the disk will become read-only

It does not recover your data and has corruption possibilities

Video guide on how to Read Mac HFS+ Formatted Drives on Windows

Related Topic: HFS/HFS+ Data Recovery Guide for Mac

Related Topic: HFS/HFS+ Drive Data Recovery on Windows


Though you cannot directly access a Mac-formatted drive on a Windows computer, there are helpful methods and tools to help you read Mac HFS+ on Windows.

HFS+ has most likely seen its end and will not see any future enhancements to its base, and Apple HFS is the future file system for Apple devices due to its features. Furthermore, the HFS Explorer does not support write access to the drive, so copying anything on the drive is impossible with this tool. If you want read-and-write access with better integration, look into the alternative.

An alternative is the Paragon HFS+ software, which seamlessly integrates into Windows and allows you to use the drive like any other drive supported by Windows. If you're willing to pay, you can get Paragon HFS+, which has a significant feature that HFS Explorer lacks. The tool from Paragon installs a file system driver that allows you to access a Mac-formatted drive in File Explorer, just like any other storage drive.