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How To Access Mac OSX Hard Drive From Windows 7 Computer

We had a customer come in the computer shop the other day who needed us to troubleshoot an external hard drive that was crashing his Mac OSX laptop every time he plugged the USB cable from the external hard drive in. Once he left I removed the hard drive from the external hard drive enclosure and needed to find a way to access the data from my Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit laptop to verify the hard drive was functioning as expected. Use the information below to access an OSX hard drive, which is formatted either as HFS, HFS+, or HFSX, from a Windows 7 computer.

Access Macintosh OSX Hard Drive From Windows 7:

Again the hard drive is likely going to be formatted using HFS or HFS+ so you will need to install a utility to access the hard drive from your Windows 7 computer. In my case I chose HFSExplorer and used an external SATA/EIDE USB adapter. Follow the directions below to download HFSExplorer, install HFSExplorer, and access the OSX hard drive that is already attached to the Windows 7 computer.

  1. Download HFSExplorer: Click here to visit the HFSExplorer download page. Click on “Download installer for Microsoft Windows systems” to download the HFSExplorer installer which is currently named hfsexplorer-0_21-setup.exe.
  2. Install HFSExplorer: First double click the hfsexplorer-0_21-setup.exe installation application which will launch the HFSExplorer Setup Wizard as shown in the below example image.

    HFSExplorer Setup Wizard

    Click the Next button to continue the installation. The defaults for all of the HFSExplorer installation screens should suffice however you can modify accordingly if necessary. Below are examples of HFSExplorer Setup Wizard screens including License Agreement, Choose Components, Choose Install Location, and Choose Start Menu Folder.

    HFSExplorer License Agreement

    HFSExplorer Choose Components

    HFSExplorer Choose Install Location

    HFSExplorer Choose Start Menu Folder

    After selecting the default Start Menu Folder location click the Install button to install HFSExplorer on your Windows 7 computer which will display the below installation window.

    HFSExplorer Installing

    Once the installation complete the below HFSExplorer installation finished window will display.

    HFSExplorer Installation Finished

  3. Verify OSX Hard Drive Connected: Make sure the hard drive from the OSX computer is now attached to the Windows 7 computer typically by an external USB adapter of some sort. Once the drive is connected continue to the next step.
  4. Launch HFSExplorer: Now launch the HFSExplorer application which will look like the below example image once it launches.

    HFSExplorer On Windows 7

  5. Mount OSX Hard Drive On Windows 7: Select File from the top navigation menu and select “Load file system from device…” or CTRL-L which will open the below window.

    Load File System From Device

    Now click the Autodetect… button which should locate the attached drive and display a configuration window similar to the below. Depending on the type of file system and the mount location the new pop up window may be a bit different.

    Load HFS+ File System On Windows 7

    Click the OK button to complete mounting the HFS file system. Now you should see the directory structure of the hard drive from the OSX computer in HFSExplorer as shown in the below example.

    HFSExplorer With HFS Drive Mounted In Windows 7

You cannot write data from Windows 7 to the drive however this should provide the ability to read any data on the drive that is formatted in HFS, HFS+, or HFSX.

If you need a USB adapter to easily attach IDE or SATA hard drives to your computer check out the below to options which are both solid and at a very reasonable price. I use the first option below on a daily basis and have not had any issues.