Accessing Ext3, NTFS, HFS+ Via Windows, Ubuntu & OS X

A multi-boot system is truly g33ky by any standards and if you have all the 3 platforms on the same machine, now that rocks! One issue that used to face a lot of times, was accessing downloaded or created files in either platform on the other platform, so began the search for accessing the different HDD formats via the different platforms. Here I shall share with you the programs and tips that will allow you to access:

  1. Ext 2/3 & HFS+ via Windows.
  2. NTFS & Ext 2/3 via OS X.
  3. HFS+ & NTFS via Linux. (NTFS is available by default in leading distros).

Ext 2/3 in Windows:

To gain Read-Write access to Ext 2/3 partitions via Windows:

  1. Download Ext2FSD.
  2. Run the program.
  3. Press F7 -> Start the service -> Apply.
  4. Right click on the Ext partition -> Add Drive letter.
  5. Open My Computer, you should see the partition being shown as any other HDD partition.



HFS+ in Windows:

To access a HFS+ partition via Windows there is a free utility – HFS Explorer that allows you do so. This app can be a little stressing to the computer at times. If I am not mistaken it is a Java app, hence can even disable Aero if need be.

  1. Install HFS Explorer.
  2. Choose the ‘Run in Admin mode’ exe.
  3. File -> Load file system from devices.
  4. Autodetect.
  5. Select the file you want and Extract it.



NOTE: This program only provides Read access. In order to gain Write Access you can buy – Mac Drive or get it from other sources.


Reading NTFS in available by default in Leopard (according to Aayush, in Tiger too). To gain Write access to NTFS there is need for 2 utilities:

  1. MacFUSE
  2. NTFS 3G

After installing these, your NTFS partitions will become ‘Connected Servers’, so in order to see them on the desktop you will have to check Connected Servers to be shown on the desktop from Finder’s preferences under General.



Ext 2/3 in OS X:

In order to access a Ext 2/3 partition in OS X you will need 2 utilities:

  1. MacFUSE
  2. ExtFs2X

I have not yet got Write access to the Ext3 partition as it is a journaled version of Ext2 (Ext2 + Journaling = Ext3) & disabling journaling in Linux is not as easy as in OS X. However, the utilities will allow you see the Linux partition in Finder and read data from it.



HFS+ in Ubuntu:

Read permissions are present by default, but in order to write you need to disable Journaling.

To enable Write permissions on HFS+ (OS X) you will need to disable Journaling on your HFS+ partition. This is achieved from OS X itself. To disable Journaling on your HFS+ partition:

  1. Applications -> Disk Utility.
  2. Select the OS X partition.
  3. Hold ‘Options’ key (Win key for Hackint0shes).
  4. Whilst holding the key click on ‘File’.
  5. Voila! you shall see the ‘Disable journaling’ option.

Once done, you can boot into Linux and then go through your root user and write on the HFS+ partition.

In Ubuntu:

  • Terminal -> sudo nautilus

Enter your password and then browse to the HFS+ partition. Write what you want to :)



  1. To re-enable Journaling, click on the drive and the Enable Journaling option in the taskbar will be highlighted.
  2. Enabling & Disabling does not affect the working. It can be done on-the-fly & you do not need to reboot for changes to take effect.



Disable Journaling:


Enable Journaling:


NTFS in Ubuntu:

Read-Write permissions available by default.