It Just Works (Sometimes)!

Time Capsule is incredibly helpful – it’s saved me from several moderately catastrophic data loses. What is less than terrific, however, is the instructions for connecting an external hard disk drive (HDD) to it. To save myself the hassles of figuring out how to set it up again in the future, and for those who are searching for the solution, I’ve thrown this together.


Many drives are shipped partitioned to FAT. That’s great…for PCs. Heck, my Macbook could read it too, but doing so crashed my Time Capsule. I figured that it was probably FAT, and so just opened up the Disk Utility to erase the drive and partition it to HFS+ (Journal). Then I found out that this element of OS X has been broken for a long, long time.



After some searching, I came across a solution in the ilounge forums. What you need to do to erase the drive (while it’s connected to you Mac) and then get it to play nice with your Time Capsule follows:

  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Select your USB HDD
  3. Click on the Partition tab.
  4. Change the Volume Scheme from “Current” to “1 Partition”
  5. Click on the Options button
  6. Click on the GUID Partition Table radio button
  7. Select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” under Format
  8. Click Apply
  9. Your drive should now format
  10. Eject the USB HDD from your Mac
  11. Remove the USB cord, and power off the HDD
  12. Move the USB HDD to your Time Capsule
  13. Connect the USB HDD to the Time Capsule
  14. Turn on the USB HDD
  15. You should now be able to find your HDD using Finder

Moral of the Story:

Apple computers just work. Sometimes.

It’d be nice if Apple had the same caliber of documentation as The Great Evil (i.e. Microsoft). I guess that wouldn’t be cool.