What Is The Best File Format For Mac

Posted By admin On 16.02.22
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It can be tough transporting your videos and music to every device you use. How do you know your Mac, Xbox, and Windows PC can read your files? Read on to find your perfect USB drive solution.

The file is universal and can be read from the PC and Mac platform and others. Roxio Toast has that feature of saving files to be sent out in different formats. That seems to work the best, but I don't know what she can do. I was just curious if there were file types that work best for keying and others that aren't so good. I know DV is horrendous, but luckily I'm not dealing with that here. Here is a list of the top free Mac video converter for you to convert video files to Mac's best video format, mkv to mp4, wmv to mov etc; and convert video to your iPhone, iPod, iPad, do not miss this to convert video free with best free video converter for Mac.

  1. If you want to share your files with the most devices and none of the files are larger than 4 GB, choose FAT32.
  2. If you have files larger than 4 GB, but still want pretty good support across devices, choose exFAT.
  3. If you have files larger than 4 GB and mostly share with Windows PCs, choose NTFS.
  4. If you have files larger than 4 GB and mostly share with Macs, choose HFS+

File systems are the sort of thing that many computer users take for granted. The most common file systems are FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS on Windows, APFS and HFS+ on macOS, and EXT on Linux—though you may run into others on occasion. But it can be confusing understanding what devices and operating systems supports which file systems—especially when all you want to do is transfer some files or keep your collection readable by all the devices you use. So, let’s take a look at the major file systems and hopefully, you can figure out the best solution for formatting your USB drive.

Understanding File System Problems

What Is The Best File Format For Mac

Different file systems offer different ways of organizing data on a disk. Since only binary data is actually written to disks, the file systems provide a way to translate the physical recordings on a disk to the format read by an OS. Since these file systems are key to the operating system making sense of the data, an OS cannot read data off of a disk without support for the file system with which the disk is formatted. When you format a disk, the file system you choose essentially governs which devices can read or write to the disk.

Many businesses and households have multiple PCs of different types in their home—Windows, macOS, and Linux being the most common. And if you carry files to friends houses or when you travel, you never know what type of system you may want those files on. Because of this variety, you need to format portable disks so that they can move easily between the different operating systems you expect to use.

But to make that decision, you need to understand the two major factors that can affect your file system choice: portability and file size limits. We’re going to take a look at these two factors as they relate to the most common file systems:

  • NTFS: The NT File System (NTFS) is the file system that modern Windows versions use by default.
  • HFS+: The Hierarchical File System (HFS+) is the file system modern macOS versions use by default.
  • APFS: The proprietary Apple file system developed as a replacement for HFS+, with a focus on flash drives, SSDs, and encryption. APFS was released with iOS 10.3 and macOS 10.13, and will become the mandatory file system for those operating systems.
  • FAT32: The File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32) was the standard Windows file system before NTFS.
  • exFAT: The extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) builds on FAT32 and offers a lightweight system without all the overhead of NTFS.
  • EXT 2, 3, & 4: The extended file system (EXT) was the first file system created specifically for the Linux kernel.


You might think that modern operating systems would natively support each other’s file system, but they largely do not. For example, macOS can read—but not write to—disks formatted with NTFS. For the most part, Windows will not even recognize disks formatted with APFS or HFS+.

Many distros of Linux (like Ubuntu) are prepared to deal with this file system problem. Moving files from one file system to another is a routine process for Linux—many modern distros natively support NFTS and HFS+ or can get support with a quick download of free software packages.

In addition to this, your home consoles (Xbox 360, Playstation 4) only provide limited support for certain filesystems, and only provide read access to the USB drives. In order to better understand the best filesystem for your needs, take a look at this helpful chart.

File SystemWindows XPWindows 7/8/10macOS (10.6.4 and earlier)macOS (10.6.5 and later)Ubuntu LinuxPlaystation 4Xbox 360/One
NTFS YesYesRead OnlyRead OnlyYesNoNo/Yes
exFATYesYesNoYesYes (with ExFAT packages)Yes (with MBR, not GUID)No/Yes
HFS+No(read-only with Boot Camp)YesYesYesNoYes
APFSNoNoNoYes (macOS 10.13 or greater)NoNoNo
EXT 2, 3, 4NoYes (with third-party software)NoNoYesNoYes

Keep in mind that this chart chose the native abilities of each OS to use these file systems. Windows and macOS both have downloads that can help them read unsupported formats, but we’re really focusing on native ability here.

The takeaway from this chart on portability is that FAT32 (having been around for so long) is supported on almost all devices. This makes it strong candidate for being the file system of choice for most USB drives, so long as you can live with FAT32’s file size limits—which we’ll go over next.

What Is The Best File Format For Youtube

File and Volume Size Limits

FAT32 was developed many years ago, and was based on older FAT filesystems meant for DOS computers. The large disk sizes of today were only theoretical in those days, so it probably seemed ridiculous to the engineers that anyone would ever need a file larger than 4 GB. However, with today’s large file sizes of uncompressed and high-def video, many users are faced with that very challenge.

Today’s more modern file systems have upward limits that seem ridiculous by our modern standards, but one day may seem humdrum and ordinary. When stacked up against the competition, we see very quickly that FAT32 is showing its age in terms of file size limits.

File SystemIndividual File Size LimitSingle Volume Size Limit
NTFS Greater than commercially available drives16 EB
FAT32Less than 4 GBLess than 8 TB
exFATGreater than commercially available drives64 ZB
HFS+Greater than commercially
available drives
8 EB
APFSGreater than commercially
available drives
16 EB
EXT 2, 316 GB (up to 2 TB on some systems)32 TB
EXT 41 EB16 TB

Every newer file system handily whips FAT32 in the file size department, allowing for sometimes ridiculously large files. And when you look at volume size limits, FAT32 still lets you format volumes up to 8 TB, which is more than enough for a USB drive. Other files systems allow volume sizes all the way up into the exobyte and zetabyte range.

Formatting a Drive

The process for formatting a drive is different depending on what system you’re using. Rather than detailing them all here, we’ll instead point you at a few handy guides on the subject:

The conclusion to draw from all this is that while FAT32 has its issues, it’s the best file system to use for most portable drives. FAT32 finds support on the most devices, allows volumes up to 8 TB, and file sizes up to 4 GB.

If you need to transport files greater than 4 GB, you’ll need to take a closer look at your needs. If you only use Windows devices, NTFS is a good choice. If you only use macOS devices, HFS+ will work for you. And if you only use Linux devices, EXT is fine. And if you need support for more devices and bigger files, exFAT may fit the bill. exFAT is not supported on quite as many different devices as FAT32 is, but it comes close.

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Dear Lifehacker,
I know MP3 is the most popular audio format out there, but there are so many others—like AAC, FLAC, OGG and WMA—that I'm not really sure which one I should be using. What's the difference between them, and which one should I use to rip my music?

Frustrated with Formats

Dear Frustrated,
You aren't alone in your confusion, but luckily, it's pretty simple once you understand it all. Here's a quick lowdown on the differences between each of these audio formats.


The Lossless Formats: WAV, AIFF, FLAC, Apple Lossless, and Others


What Is The Best File Format For Pictures

We've talked about the difference between lossless and lossy before, but the short version is, there are two types of audio quality: lossless and lossy. Lossless music keeps all the audio quality of the original source—in most cases, CD—intact, while lossy music compresses the files for space savings (though at slightly diminished quality). Lossless files include:

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  • WAV and AIFF: Both WAV and AIFF are uncompressed formats, which means they are exact copies of the original source audio. The two formats are essentially the same quality; they just store the data a bit differently. AIFF is made by Apple, so you may see it a bit more often in Apple products, but WAV is pretty much universal. However, since they're uncompressed, they take up a lot of unnecessary space. Unless you're editing the audio, you don't need to store the audio in these formats.
  • FLAC: The Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is the most popular lossless format, making it a good choice if you want to store your music in lossless. Unlike WAV and AIFF, it's been compressed, so it takes up a lot less space. However, it's still a lossless format, which means the audio quality is still the same as the original source, so it's much better for listening than WAV and AIFF. It's also free and open source, which is handy if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Apple Lossless: Also known as ALAC, Apple Lossless is similar to FLAC. It's a compressed lossless file, although it's made by Apple. Its compression isn't quite as efficient as FLAC, so your files may be a bit bigger, but it's fully supported by iTunes and iOS (while FLAC is not). Thus, you'd want to use this if you use iTunes and iOS as your primary music listening software.
  • APE: APE is a very highly compressed lossless file, meaning you'll get the most space savings. Its audio quality is the same as FLAC, ALAC, and other lossless files, but it isn't compatible with nearly as many players. They also work your processor harder to decode, since they're so highly compressed. Generally, I wouldn't recommend using this unless you're very starved for space and have a player that supports it.


Photo by Tracey R.

The Lossy Formats: MP3, AAC, OGG, and More


For regular listening, it's more likely that you'll be using a lossy format. They save a ton of space, leaving you with more room for songs on your portable player, and—if they're high enough bitrate—they'll be indistinguishable from the original source. Here are the formats you'll probably run into:

  • MP3: MPEG Audio Layer III, or MP3 for short, is the most common lossy format around. So much so that it's become synonymous with downloaded music. MP3 isn't the most efficient format of them all, but its definitely the most well-supported, making it our #1 choice for lossy audio. You really can't go wrong with MP3.
  • AAC: Advanced Audio Coding, also known as AAC, is similar to MP3, although it's a bit more efficient. That means that you can have files that take up less space, but with the same sound quality as MP3. And, with Apple's iTunes making AAC so popular, it's almost as widely compatible with MP3. I've only ever had one device that couldn't play AACs properly, and that was a few years ago, so it's pretty hard to go wrong with AAC either.
  • Ogg Vorbis: The Vorbis format, often known as Ogg Vorbis due to its use of the Ogg container, is a free and open source alternative to MP3 and AAC. Its main draw is that it isn't restricted by patents, but that doesn't affect you as a user—in fact, despite its open nature and similar quality, it's much less popular than MP3 and AAC, meaning fewer players are going to support it. As such, we don't really recommend it unless you feel very strongly about open source.
  • WMA: Windows Media Audio is Microsoft's own proprietary format, similar to MP3 or AAC. It doesn't really offer any advantages over the other formats, and it's also not as well supported. There's very little reason to rip your CDs into this format.


Photo by Carl Berkeley.

So Which Should You Use?

Now that you understand the difference between each format, what should you use for ripping or downloading music? In general, we recommend using MP3 or AAC. They're compatible with nearly every player out there, and both are indistinguishable from the original source if encoded at a high bitrate. Unless you have specific needs that suggest otherwise, MP3 and AAC are clear choices.


However, there is something to be said for ripping your music in a lossless format like FLAC. While you probably won't notice higher quality, lossless is great for storing your music if you plan on converting it to other formats later on—since converting a lossy format to another lossy format (e.g., AAC to MP3) will produce files of noticeably lower quality. So, for archival purposes, we recommend FLAC. However, you can use any lossless format you want, since you can convert between lossless formats without changing the quality of the file.

Concluding the Great MP3 Bitrate Experiment

And now for the dramatic conclusion to The Great MP3 Bitrate Experiment you've all been…

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Video Format Converter For Mac

The bottom line? Don't stress out about it. Just make sure you're using something widely compatible, don't convert between two lossy formats, and just enjoy the music!

What Is The Best File Format For Mac


What Is The Best File Format For Video