A drive can be used on any type of computer - PC or Mac. But in order for the computer and drive to talk to one another, the drive has to be formatted. This article explains about file systems and provides instruction to format a drive on Windows and Mac. Jul 09, 2020 Change the Format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled), then click Erase. Once the process is complete, go to the Disk Utilities menu in the upper-left corner and choose Quit Disk Utility.

By Adela D. Louie, Last updated: August 27, 2019

In today’s technology, if you buy a USB hard drive, you can just simply use it directly using your Mac. However, there are instances that not unless that your flash drive is build to use for your Mac, you will not be able to format it.

Why is this so? The answer to this is because most of the computers actually run on Windows and they actually use a different file format which is known to be the Fat32.

Those drives that are formatted in Fat32 can be used in your Mac for reading and writing but there might be an instance that you might experience some trouble once that you use your macOS native format.

So, in case that you have a flash drive that is formatted into Fat32 or any type of format rather than having a Mac OS Extended or AFPS, then we are going to show you in this article how you could possibly format your flash drive using your Mac.

Part 1: How To Format Flash Drive On Mac

Here are the steps that you need to follow. Do these steps and you will then be able to format your flash drive on your Mac.

Step 1: Go ahead and plug in your flash drive in the USB port on your Mac.

Step 2: After that, go ahead and launch the Finder and click on your flash drive detected by your Mac.

Step 3: See to it that there are no files saved on your flash drive that you no longer need. This is because formatting your flash drive will remove all the data that is stored in it. If there are some files that you want to remain, simply copy these files to your Mac.

Step 4: After getting all the files that you need from your flash drive, go ahead and click on “Applications” and then click “Utilities” and then choose “Disk Utility”.

Step 5: And then, go ahead and click on your flash drive from the sidebar.

Step 6: Once that you have chosen your flash drive, go ahead and click on the “Erase” button located at the toolbar at the top of the window.

Step 7: On the next window that will appear on your screen, go ahead and key in a name for the flash drive that you are formatting from the box next to the “Name” option.

Step 8: And then select a format that you want from the drop-down menu.

Step 9: No, if you have previously stored a data on your flash drive that is highly sensitive, just go ahead and click on the Security Tab.

Step 10: From the security tab, go ahead and choose the level of the security that you want. The more that you move to your right, then the more “passes” the deleted tool will be but it will securely delete your files. However, doing to so will take more of your time to format your flash drive.

Step 11: After that, go ahead and click on the “OK” button and then click on the “Erase” button.

Part 2: Choosing the Right Format

There are formats that you need to choose from depending on the Mac that you are using. If you are using the macOS Sierra or a later version, then you have to options to choose from. One is the AFPS and the other one is the Mac OS Extended. The question now here is that which one should you choose.

You have to keep in mind that once you have formatted your flash drive into AFPS, then those Macs that are running on macOS that is older than the High Sierra will not be able to recognize it.

So, if you would want to use your flash drive on Macs that are running on High Sierra, then you have to choose the Mac OS Extended format.

However, you also have to know that AFPS is actually optimized for SSD or “solid state drive” and it includes flash drives.

That is why if you are going to reformat a flash drive on your Mac, then you should definitely choose the AFPS format as it is known to be the most reliable and faster than the Mac OS Extended. But again, that is if you do not have any plans in using it on a pre-High Sierra course.

And lastly, if in case that you would want to use your flash drive as one of your backup options in Time Machine, then you should definitely have it formatted in Mac OS Extended.

This is because Time Machine does not have the ability yet to backup flash drives that are formatted in AFPS. So, if you are using an AFPS formatted flash drive on Time Machine, it will just ask you to format your flash drive into Mac OS Extended.

Part 3: How To Format Flash Drive To Fat32 On Your Mac

Once that you have a flash drive, then what you would need to do is to have it formatted into Fat32. Why? This is because once that you have formatted your flash drive into Fat32, then you will be able to use it on both Windows and Mac PC when you want to save or transfer files with either of the two.

The Fat32 format can be used – read or write – with both Mac and Windows PC and because of this, it makes the device more versatile.

However, there are some limitations that you should need to know such as an individual file should only have a maximum size of 4GB. But do not worry because there is still something you can do about it and that is by formatting it to exFAT.

The exFAT format will not give any limitations on the file size that you are going to store on your flash drive and you can still use it on both Windows and Macs that are running in Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later version. For you to be able to format your flash drive into Fat32, here is what you need to do.

Step 1: Go ahead and connect your flash drive to your Mac.

Step 2: And then, go to Application and then click on Utilities.

Step 3: After that, go ahead and launch Disk Utility.

Step 4: And then, go ahead and click on your flash drive located at the sidebar in Disk Utility.

Step 5: After that, click on 'Erase' in the Disk Utility window.

Step 6: After that, go ahead and enter the name for the flash drive that you formatted.

Step 7: And then, choose the Format menu and then select MS-DOS (FAT32) or the ExFAT.

Step 8: After that, go ahead and click on the 'Erase' button.

Once that you are done with the provided steps for you, your flash drive will then completely wipe out all the data stored and it is re-formatted into either an ExFAT or FAT32 depending on what you have chosen on the previous steps.

Part 4: Getting Your Mac System Run Fast

Now that you have known with how you can format your flash drive on your Mac, now it is time for you to get your Mac cleaned up.

Getting your Mac clean on a regular basis after doing tasks can help your Mac maintain its speed and will also give you more space for your storage.

There is one great option for you to clean up your Mac in no time and this is by using the software called the FoneDog Mac Cleaner.

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The FoneDog Mac Cleaner will help you to speed up your Mac with just a few simple clicks. This software can also help you in scanning your Mac faster and find all of your junk files on your Mac.

It also has the capability of checking your Mac's system status which includes your CPU status, your memory usage and more. This way, you will have an idea of what is the data that is actually eating up a lot of storage space on your Mac and which is causing it to perform slower than the usual.

The FoneDog Mac Cleaner will not only help you in removing all of the junk files that you have on your Mac. It can also help you to completely uninstall applications that you no longer use together with all the files that are associated with that app. It can also serve as a Similar Image Finder, an Extension Manager, a Duplicate Finder, and more.

For you to start cleaning up your Mac, all you have to do is to follow all the steps that we are going to provide to you. Do not worry, this is really simple and easy to follow and it will not consume a lot of your time. In addition, the screenshots below are shown under the dark mode on Mac.

Step 1: Download and Install

Have the FoneDog Mac Cleaner downloaded from our official website at https://www.fonedog.com/mac-cleaner/. Once that you have completely downloaded the program, go ahead and have the program installed on your Mac.

Step 2: Launch the Program

After that installation process is complete, go ahead and run the program on your Mac. Once that the program is up and running, you will be able to see on your screen the system status of your Mac. With that information, you will have an idea which files are taking up a lot of space on your Mac.

Step 3: Select Cleaner

Cleaner provides you with the cleaning function for the system, photo, email, files, apps and other fields on your Mac.

Step 4: Choose iTunes Junk

Here, take iTunes Junk as an example to show you how to clean junks on your Mac to make your Mac run faster.
Note: As for the other tools like 'System Junk' and 'Email Junk', the steps to clean up them is the same as that in 'iTunes Junk' tool.

Step 5. Scan iTunes Files

After clicking into the page of iTunes Junk, press the Scan button to start scan all the iTunes backups, Cache, updates and downloads on your Mac.

Step 6: Review and Select Items

After that scanning process is completely done, you will be able to see on the left side of your window screen a list of category folders of all the junk files of iTunes that you have on your Mac. If you click each folder, you will see on the right side of your screen all the items that each folder contains.

Review each item on each folder for you to make sure that all the junk files shown on your screen are unnecessary any more.

Once that you are satisfied with the result, you can go ahead and simply click on the 'Clean' button to clean up all your junk files.

Step 7: Confirm Your Choice

There would be a pop-up window called Confirmation turning up. Please press the 'Confirm' button if you are sure to delete the selected files; otherwise, please press the Cancel button and return to the previous page.

Step 8: Cleaning Done

Once that the cleaning process is done, all those unnecessary files that you have there will all be deleted from your Mac.

Part 5: Conclusion

Now, as you can see, formatting your flash drive on your Mac is a very easy thing to do. All you need to have is the knowledge on how you can do.

And keep in mind that if you are going to format your flash drive, make sure that you choose the right format so that you can use it in any PC.

Formatting is easy, just like in cleaning up your Mac. Getting your Mac tidy is one of the best things that you should do for you to be able to maintain the speed of your Mac and of course for you to get more space on your storage. And the best way for you to clean up your Mac is by using the FoneDog Mac Cleaner.

>Clean up Mac >How to Format A Flash Drive on Mac?
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Sep 27,2020 • Filed to: Hard Drive Recovery • Proven solutions

'How to format an external hard drive Mac? What format system to use when reformatting my storage drive for a Mac?'

This is a frequent question asked by first-time, as well as the not-so-tech-savvy, macOS users. Learning how to format an external hard drive Mac is essential. Because saving all your data on the Cloud is nice and all, but physical storage is still popular. Especially if you don't have a stable internet connection or if most of your files are large.

Luckily, you don't have to learn rocket science to be able to format an external hard drive for Mac or PC. The operation is pretty straightforward. When it comes to your iOS device, we have listed two methods for you, read below and explore more.

Part 1: What Is the Best Format for External Hard Drive Mac?

The first step to formatting your external drive for a Mac computer is choosing the right format. There are four possible choices:

  • APFS (Apple File System)
  • HFS+ (Mac OS Extended)
  • exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table)
  • FAT (MS-DOS)

To understand which is the best for you, let's have a comprehensive overview of each of them.

1. Apple File System

The APFS was first introduced in 2017 as a replacement for the HFS+. Nowadays, all new Macs come with the operating system preinstalled on APFS, as this system is optimized for use with SSD and flash storage drives. However, it still works with traditional HDD drives too.

This is the best format to pick if you have an external SSD or USB flash drive that you don't intend to use with a Windows device.

The biggest strength of this system is the speed, as well as the encryption and metadata handling. However, you won't be able to use this system with Time Machine.

2. Mac OS Extended

The HFS+, or Hierarchical File System plus on its real name, was the main file system used for Mac until 2017.

This type of file system is suitable to use with both HDD and SDD drives, but the latter will perform slightly better with the APFS mentioned above. If you have an older Mac, though, choosing the HFS+ is your best bet.

In general, all external drives formatted to HFS+ work nicely with older Mac versions but are incompatible with Windows.

3. Extended File Allocation Table

Designed by Microsoft, the exFAT is a good choice if you plan to use the external hard drive with both macOS and Windows systems. Yet, you won't get top performance on either. This choice is more appropriate for USB flash drives, although you can still use it for SDD and HDD units too.

The main issue with exFAT is that your drive will be more prone to fragmentation when used with Apple devices and is less stable than NTFS on Windows. If you really have to share the drive between Mac and Windows machines, that's your best option though.


Macs also support FAT32 drives, marked as FAT in Disk Utility. This format should be avoided at all costs unless you're dealing with a really old Windows computer, which you really have to use in parallel with your Mac system.

Typically, there is no reason to choose this option unless you're planning to use the external hard drive on a Windows XP or earlier machine.

Part 2: How to Format an External Hard Drive Mac?

Now that you know which format to choose, it's time to learn how to format an external hard drive for Mac. There are essentially two methods, with Disk Utility or Time Machine function.

Note: If you plan to format an older external drive, perhaps one you used with another device, make sure to backup all data before proceeding. Formatting is a permanent procedure that can't be reversed. While there are data recovery software you can use if you lost data, it is always better to prevent.

That said, here's how to format an external hard drive Mac:

Method 1: Format Mac Hard Drive with Disk Utility

Disk Utility is a utility application proprietary to macOS that is used to both format and manage internal and external disks. Here's how to use it:

Step 1 Connect the external hard drive you want to format to your Mac, then start the Disk Utility app that you can find under Applications -> Utilities.

How To Format For Mac

Step 2 On the left side of the Utilities screen, find the name of the external hard drive you want to format and select it. Then, on the top side under the Disk Utility, click on the Erase button.

Step 3 Follow the on-screen prompts to select the desired file system and allow the drive to format. That's it! After the process is complete, you can either start using the drive or choose to create partitions on it.

Method 2: Format Mac Hard Drive with Time Machine

Formatting an external hard drive with Time Machine is as easy as formatting it with Disk Utility. Time Machine, however, gives you the possibility to create an automatic backup of the data on your hard drive before formatting it.

Before you proceed, therefore, you should first set up the external drive to use with Time Machine. To do this, open System Preferences and select Time Machine after you've connected the external drive to your Mac.

Now, click on Select Disk and select the desired drive from the list. Click on the Use Disk button. At this point, the system will run an automatic backup two minutes after you've clicked on the Use Disk button, or you can proceed with the formatting if the hard disk is empty.

To format an external hard drive for Mac with Time Machine, you must follow the steps below.

Step 1 Open Finder, Applications, then go to Utilities and Disk Utility.

Step 2 Follow the steps above to format the drive, and then you can use it with Time Machine on your Mac system.

Part 3: Bonus Tip – Data Recovery from Formatted Hard Drive on Mac

Sometimes, it may happen that you accidentally formatted an external hard drive containing important data. Whether it's your wedding pictures or your bachelor's degree thesis, chances are you want to get that data back as quickly as possible.

If you have a newer version of Mac, you can use the Apple Time Machine to recover your canceled files, or you could choose to use external software, such as Recoverit Data Recovery.

1. Recover Data with Apple Time Machine

How To Format For Mac External Hard Drive

In the former hypothesis, you can try to recover your data with the Time Machine. This app is Apple's backup feature present on the newer systems. If you followed the steps above before formatting the hard drive with Time Machine and allowed the app to execute the backup, then there are high chances that you can recover any lost data without too much hassle.

To do so, just launch the Time Machine and browse through the folders to see if it has saved the files you require.

For easier browsing, you can use the time stamp feature on the right side of the screen and select the date or time when you executed the backup. Once you found the files, simply click on Restore to get them back.

2. Recover Data with Recoverit Data Recovery

If you didn't use the Time Machine function or couldn't find the files you need, you can try to recover any lost files with trusted third-party software, such as Recoverit - Data Recovery.

Recoverit (IS)

A Life Saver to Solve Your Data Loss Problems!

  • It allows you to recover unlimited lost or deleted files from your Mac device, including photo, video, and audio data, document files, and more.
  • It supports all types of Mac files irrespective of their extension.
  • Compatible with both internal and external drives, USB pens, memory cards, and other hardware, so you can rest assured it will retrieve your data if it's there.
  • Retrieve data from accidentally deleted files, lost or formatted partitions, data lost due to virus attacks, system crashes, or data lost by the Time Machine.
  • It is free to download and supports all leading macOS versions, including the 10.14 release.
3,165,867 people have downloaded it

This system is also very easy to use, in just three easy steps:

Step 1Install the application and choose the desired location

How To Format Usb For Mac

Download and install the software on your Mac computer, then open it and select the external hard drive, partition, or location where you want to retrieve data.

Step 2Start the scan to retrieve your lost data

Click the Start button. The software will now scan the selected drive and display all retrieved data in an easy-to-scour list.

Step 3 Preview the recovered files and save them in your chosen location

Reinstall Macos From Scratch

Review and select the target files, then launch the recovery process. That's it. The software will restore your lost data.


Format Mac Hard Drive

As you can see, how to format an external hard drive Mac is not particularly complicated. The Disk Utility allows you to format the desired drive to the desired system in a blink of an eye. Backing up the data on your drive with Time Machine also allows you to avoid the recovery hassle. If you still lost some data, you even know which software to use to recover all lost files.

Now it's your turn. Use this guide to format your unreadable external drive, download, and use the data recovery software if needed, and don't forget to share this article with your Mac-addicted friends. They might make good use of it too.

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