If you own a Mac and use Boot Camp to run both Windows and Mac OS X on your system, you’ve probably run into the annoyance of dealing with moving files between both systems. While your Mac partition is formatted in HFS+, Windows requires NTFS, and the two are generally incompatible. To mitigate these differences, here are some tips for all you dual booters out there.

1. Recognize your capabilities and limitations – On the Mac OS X side, it’s important to remember if you’ve got 10.3 or up, you already have native NTFS read-only support. So if all you want to do is read files from your NTFS partition, you’re all set! On the Windows side, Apple’s Boot Camp drivers allow similar functionality – HFS+ read-only support. If you want to be able to write on either side, you’re going to have to download a third-party solution.

2. Mac OS X NTFS Write Support – If you’re looking for a free method to write from Mac OS X to your NTFS drive, download NTFS-3G here. While installing it, you’ll also need to install MacFUSE, a framework used to access your drives; however, NTFS-3G’s package will install this automatically for you. The great thing about NTFS-3G is that it’s essentially native. It just runs in the background without you needing to configure any preferences or options. Copy and paste in Finder just like you’re on your HFS+ drive.

3. Windows HFS+ Write Support – Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a free solution out there to enable this option. MacDrive works beautifully and pretty much works seamlessly just like with NTFS-3G, even offering more options like format, partition, and repair of HFS+ drives. However, the $49.99 price of admission is rather expensive, so unless you really require HFS+ write support from the Windows side of Boot Camp, I’d just put up with the read-only support limitation.

4. Sync Essential Files with Dropbox – Keeping a Dropbox folder on both partitions is an easy way to ensure you have all the files you need on either OS at all times. The great thing about using Dropbox to sync these files is that they’ll always be the most updated version, and it eliminates the need to download any of this third-party software for write support if all you need is to keep a limited range of files in sync.

Do you have any other tips to help deal with running a dual or even triple boot system? Are there any software solutions that I missed? Let us know in the comments!

[Image courtesy of Flickr user foskarulla. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.]