Testing New Tools for Doing Good Work

How to Format a Drive for Mac and PC Compatibility with a Gotcha

In Mac Desktop on 04/26/2012 at 1:55 pm

Mac and Windows can get along

Format your drives to work on Macs and Windows

OS X Daily offers a steady stream of news and useful tips users of Apple devices and apps. Sometimes they’re a little nerdy, but sometimes that’s just what you need, as in this case: a dead-easy how-to guide to formatting a USB drive (or USB key or flash drive or thumb drive or whatever you may call it) for use on both a Mac and a PC.

Be ready though: if you use such a drive on a Mac and then access its files from a PC, you may think you’re seeing your files twice. A file named file.txt will appear again as ._file.txt. Note the dot-underscore “._” at the beginning: the period “.” and underscore “_” at the start of the file name. That little file contains the Mac system’s reference information about the file.

Those infamous “dot-underscore” files are invisible on the Mac. Any file name that begins with a period (“dot”) is obscured on the Mac’s desktop, but they will show up when you look at the disk containing those files on your PC. You can delete them with no problem, but make sure you know which you’re looking at, and don’t get mixed up.

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