Recently I had an unusual experience with my Macbook Pro – it simply stopped working in the middle of night. I had an important file saved on the SSD of this computer and I really had to have it immediately for an urgent official work. I tried taking it apart, attaching the SSD to a Windows computer but to no avail. This is beacuse the SSD was formatted using the HFS+ partition scheme which is very common for macOS but is not recognized by Windows. Fortunately, I found a freeware called HFSExplorer that helped me read the files stored on this Mac formatted solid state drive.
Access HFS, HFS+, HFSX partitions & DMG files
On macOS, all the storage drives are usually formatted using the HFS, HFS+ or HFSX partition schemes. These partitions cannot be read by Windows natively. But with the help of HFSExplorer, we can not only access HFS, HFS+ and HFSX partitions but we can also extract files from them. Furthermore, it supports DMG archives which is another very common file format on any Mac.
HFSExplorer is designed using Oracle Java and as such you have to install Java Runtimes Enviroment (JRE) on your PC in order to use it. It can load a Mac style file system directly from a device (HDD or SSD), from a partition image, or from a path. It is able to auto-detect an HFS/HFS+/HFSX formatted drive and load it all by itself.
Extract files from HFS formatted drives
Once a partition file system is loaded, you can see a folder tree in the user interface of HFSExplorer. You can select the folders and sub-folders on the left side and the contents would appear on the left side. You can right-click on any of these files and folders for extracting them on your local storage drive (NTFS or FAT partitions). In order to extract the whole partition, you can simply click on the Extract button.
Create disk images of HFS formatted drives
Another useful feature of HFSExplorer is that it can create a disk image from any Mac formatted SSD, HDD or other storage device. For this, you have to first load the device and then select Tools → Create Disk Image from the menubar. Depending on the filesystem, it can create DMG or HFS file system disk images.
HFSExplorer makes life easy for those who have to work with both Windows and macOS. With its help, we can recover files from Mac formatted storage devices without actually using macOS. It is definitely a life saver when we have to access the HDD or SSD of a dead Macbook Pro.
You can download HFSExplorer from https://www.catacombae.org/hfsexplorer/.