Format Usb Drive For Mac

Nowadays, when you buy a USB drive, you can use it right out of the box with your Mac. However, unless it’s been designed for use with a Mac, it won’t be formatted using macOS’ preferred file system (either Mac OS Extended or APFS, depending on which version of macOS you’re running).

  1. How To Format Usb Drive For Mac
  2. Unable To Format Usb Drive
  3. Format Usb Drive For Mac Using Windows Pc
  4. Format Usb Drive For Mac Time Machine
  5. Format Usb Drive For Mac And Linux
  6. Format Usb Drive For Mac

The macOS installer file is large with approximate size of 6 to 10GB depending upon the. See full list on

That’s because most of the computers in the world run Windows, and Windows uses a different file system, usually one known as Fat32. Drives formatted as Fat32 can be read from and written to by macOS, but it’s not optimal and you’re more likely to run into problems than if you use macOS’ native format. So, if you’ve bought a USB drive that’s formatted as Fat32, or any other format other than Mac OS Extended (also known as HFS+) or APFS, here’s how to format a USB drive on Mac. It’s exactly the same procedure if you need to reformat a flash drive on a Mac.

How to format a USB drive on a Mac

1. Plug the drive into a USB socket (if you have a recent MacBook or MacBook Pro that only has USB-C connectors, you’ll need a USB-C to USB-A adaptor).

2. Open a new Finder window and click on the drive. Make sure it has no files on it that you need. The process of reformatting it will wipe all the data from it.

3. Once you’ve copied any files you need from the USB drive to your Mac, go to Applications>Utilities and double-click on Disk Utility.

4. Click on the USB drive in the sidebar and then choose Erase from the toolbar at the top of the window.

5. In the window that drops down type a name for the formatted drive in the box next to Name.

6. Choose a format from the dropdown menu.

7. If you have previously stored sensitive data on the drive, click the Security tab.

8. Choose a security level using the slider. The further to the right you move the slider, the more ‘passes’ the erase tool will make and the more securely files will be deleted. However, it also increases the time it takes to format the drive quite considerably.

9. Click Ok then click Erase.

Tip: You don’t need to erase a whole drive to delete files securely. If you have confidential files or sensitive data you need to remove from your Mac completely, you should use CleanMyMac’s File Shredder. It’s specifically designed to securely delete sensitive data and will render it unrecoverable. You can download CleanMyMac X for free here.

Which format to choose?

If your Mac is running macOS High Sierra or later, you have two options for file formats: APFS and Mac OS Extended. Which should you choose? The key point is that disks formatted as APFS won’t be recognized by Macs running versions of macOS older than High Sierra. So if you think you might need to plug the USB drive into a Mac running an older version of macOS, format it as Mac OS Extended.

APFS is optimized for SSD (solid state drive) such as flash drives, so if you reformat a flash drive on a Mac, you should definitely choose APFS (unless you plan to use it with a pre-High Sierra Mac, of course). Even on hard drives, however, APFS is faster and more reliable than Mac OS Extended.

Finally, if you plan to use the USB drive as a destination for Time Machine backups, choose Mac OS Extended. Time Machine can’t currently back up to an APFS disk and if you select one for use with Time Machine, it will offer to reformat it as Mac OS Extended. You can, however, backup an APFS formatted disk to a Mac OS Extended Time Machine drive.

How to format a USB drive to FAT32 on a Mac

The main reason for formatting a USB drive as Fat32 on a Mac is that you want to be able to use the drive on a Windows PC, as well as a Mac — perhaps to transfer files between the two machines. You may also be preparing the drive for use as, say, a storage device for a media player or to record TV programmes on a TV with a USB port.

The fact that Fat32 can be read from and written to on both Mac and Windows makes it very versatile. However, there is a significant limitation — individual files have a maximum size of 4GB. So, if you’re using the USB drive to store large video files, you may run into trouble. There is a solution, however, exFAT. Unlike FAT32, exFAT doesn’t have a maximum file limit. Better still, it can be read from and written to on any Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later and on Windows.

To format a USB drive in FAT32 or exFAT:

1. Plug the USB drive into your Mac.

2. Go to Applications>Utilities and launch Disk Utility.

3. Click on the USB drive in the sidebar in Disk Utility.

4. Click Erase in the Disk Utility toolbar.

5. Type in a name for the formatted disk.

6. Click on the Format menu and choose either MS-DOS (FAT32) or ExFAT.

7. Click Erase.

Your USB drive will now be erased and re-formatted as either FAT32 or ExFAT, depending on the format you chose in step 6.

How to manage your drives easily

How To Format Usb Drive For Mac

If you look for a quick and easy way to manage your drives, try using CleanMyDrive 2. With its help, you can drag-and-drop files directly to any drive, clean hidden junk from external drives, and check disk stats. It works for all drives, including USB drives, SSD, SD cards, external hard drives. All the drives will be at hand in the menu bar, so you can get to see types of drives you have and manage them easily. CleanMyDrive is absolutely free to use, so download it on the Mac App Store and enjoy!

Unable To Format Usb Drive

It’s very easy to format a USB drive on a Mac using Disk Utility. There are a couple of things you should keep in mind, however. The first is that when you format and disk, you will erase all the data currently on it. So if you need that data, make sure you copy it onto another disk before you start. Secondly, there are several formats to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantage. Use the guide above to help you decide which is right for you.

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Sep 28, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

'I just bought a new flash drive last week but I realized it wasn't meant to be used for Mac. Now it can't be formatted using the macOS preferred file system and I don't see a way out. So, please tell me how do I format a USB to fat32 on a Mac?'

Most of the people in the world prefer using a Windows PC. And the Windows system uses a different file system which is known as Fat32. Usually, the Fat32 drive can be read and written by macOS, but it is not considered optimal. Even if you try to format the Fat32 drive on Mac, you might end up causing more issues. So, if you have got your hands on a drive which is formatted as Fat32 of any other format instead of Mac OS Extended or APFS, then you should go through this article.

Here, we are going to learn the procedure to format a USB drive and an external hard drive on Mac. Even if you want to reformat the drive on Mac, we have all the answers for you.

Part 1. Overview of Formatting Drive on Mac

Formatting isn't just a process of erasing the existing data on a drive. It is done as a routine maintenance task. But if you want to ensure that the drive has a complete Mac compatibility, then you'll have to format the drive using the Mac OS Extended filesystem. It is possible to read and write on a drive that has a different file system. But unless you format the drive on Mac, it can't be used as a bootable disk or with Time Machine.

Unless you intend to use the drive for file exchange between Windows and Mac, the formatting would be the right thing to do. Here are some other factors that will conclude that formatting the external drive with Mac is necessary as it will also improve the performance of the drive.

  • To remove the data from a USB drive or any other drive completely. Simply erasing the data leaves a binary print on the drive. But formatting will erase the binary data too.
  • To change the Operating system. Using another OS-compatible drive can make your OS vulnerable to viruses, malware, and other malfunctions. Thus, formatting the drive and deleting the previous system files and settings is vital.
  • To improve the performance of the drive, frequent formatting is essential.
  • To remove all kinds of viruses and malware, formatting works more effectively than deleting the files.

Thus, formatting the USB drive or external hard drive will get rid of any software conflict that you are facing and even glitches will disappear.

Part 2. How to Format a Hard Drive on Mac?


Now you can understand that there are several benefits of formatting a drive. Technically, when you want to switch a USB or hard drive system to another OS, it is termed as reformatting. It allows the users to reinstall OS and all other software once the format is complete. It is considered as a better process as it is comparatively easy to format the drive for Mac instead of removing files which are malfunctioning. So, from here on, reformat will be considered as a format.

So, here is the process by which you can format hard drive or USB for Mac. The same procedure is followed for all other storage devices too.

  1. Connect the hard drive or USB with Mac and open Disk Utility from Applications.
  2. Locate the drive from the left side panel of Disk Utility and open it.
  3. Now switch to the Erase tab and click on the Format drag-down menu. Choose the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) option.
  4. Change the name of the drive if you want to and finally tap on the Erase option at the bottom of the interface.

A popup window will appear and ask you to confirm the action. As you press the Erase button, everything on the drive will be deleted completely. If you are formatting a small flash drive or USB drive, the process will complete quickly. But if you are formatting a big size hard drive, then the process might take longer than you expect. And make sure that you don't close the Disk Utility before the process finishes.

Related: How to Recover Formatted Hard Drive on Mac.

Part 3. The Best Format Choice of External Drive on Mac

Using the external drive on Mac is a good idea as it provides additional storage. But it is hard to pick a suitable format as it depends on your usage. So, it is better that you know your options and understands which format is right for you. So, here are the best formats for an external hard drive for Mac. You can choose from a variety of file systems.

1. Apple File System (APFS):

All new Macs come pre-installed with this file system. It is optimal for use if you prefer using a Solid State Drive or flash drive. But it is also compatible with the mechanical hard disk drives too. If you don't want to use the drive with Windows OS, then you can pick this format.

  • Fast copy and paste
  • Better organization of data
  • Improved metadata handling and focus on the encryption

2. Mac OS Extended (HFS+):

This format means a Hierarchical File System plus. This was the main file format for macOS before APFS was released. You can reformat USB on Mac to this format easily. This format is suitable for both mechanical and SSD. This format can't be accessed by Windows and if you want to do that, you'll need an additional program.

3. exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table):

This format is designed to overcome the limitation of format fat32 on Mac. By using this format, you can easily share the content between Mac and Windows.

  • Read and write feature compatible with Mac and Windows OS
  • Ideal for flash storage and External drives.

4. MS-DOS (FAT):

It is the FAT32 format on Mac and it is labeled as MS-DOS (FAT). This format is only ideal for old computers. If you need to transfer the files from an old computer, then you can switch to this format. Otherwise, you'll have to deal with its limitation. It is only good for Windows XP, so, you better avoid it for Mac.

As you can see, using the APFS or HFS+ format for Mac is ideal to avoid complications with your data files.

Part 4. How to Format USB to FAT32 on Mac?

process, make sure that you have made a backup, or extracted the files of the drive.

Method 1. With Disk Utility:

  1. Connect the USB drive to Mac and launch Disk Utility from Application. On the left side panel, you will see the USB drive name.
  2. Click on the USB name and switch to the Erase Tab. There, you will see the Format option where you have to select the MS-DOS (FAT) format and Master Boot Record scheme.

Finally click on the Erase button and the USB drive format will complete.

Method 2. Using Mac Command Line:

  1. Connect the USB drive to Mac and press CMD + Space key to run Spotlight. Type Terminal in the search bar and hit Enter.
  2. When the Terminal window opens up, type diskutil list and you'll find out which is your USB drive.
  3. Type the command sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 MBRFormat /dev/disk2 where
    • Sudo is the user right
    • diskutil call the disk utility program
    • EraseDisk command is to format
    • FAT32 set the file system
    • MBRFormat commands the Disk utility to use Master Boot Record to format.
    • /dev/disk2 is the location of your drive.

Wait for the process to finish and type diskutil list again to check whether formatting is done correctly or not. Now, you can use the USB with the FAT32 file system on Mac.

Video Tutorial on How to Format a USB Flash Drive on Mac

Part 5. How to Recover Formatted Data on Mac?

Format Usb Drive For Mac Using Windows Pc

You will need a strong and reliable data recovery tool for this and Recoverit is the perfect answer. This software is specifically designed so that the users can restore the files that are lost from their system. Recoverit Data Recovery for Mac makes it convenient to get them back. It has a wide array of formats and files support. Plus, you can perform selective recovery along with the deep scan mode which has a 96% success rate.

You can download and install the software from the official website. Once it is installed, you can follow the steps below to recover the lost word files on Mac:

Step 1: Select the Recycle Bin Recovery mode

Launch the software and specify the location on the drive where you want to look for the lost files. In case you don't know the exact location, choose the 'I can find my partition' option and hit the Start button.

Format Usb Drive For Mac Time Machine

Step 2: Scan the Location

The software will scan the Mac drive to look for lost or deleted files. Once the scan is finished, the results will be displayed on the screen. The files will be sorted out according to their formats. Now you can select the files.

Step 3: Preview and Recover

Format Usb Drive For Mac And Linux

Click on the file to have a preview and make sure that it is not damaged. You can perform multiple selections with this tool. After you've selected all the files, you can tap on the Recover option at the bottom of the screen.

Format Usb Drive For Mac

So, you now know what you can do if you ever lost your important files on Mac. However, while you are saving recovered screenshots on Mac, don't save them to the location from where they get lost.

As you can see, it is easy to format USB for Mac and Windows both. As Windows OS is more common, people know a thing or two about it. But Mac OS seems complicated to them. Once you get familiar with the OS, it is not that hard. And if some error arises or anything goes wrong, Recoverit is always here to retrieve your lost data.

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