HomeHow ToMacOSHow to Format External Hard Drive for Mac and PC

A hard 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. Seagate branded external drives come preformatted, some for PCs, some for Macs, and some of them have special utilities. Format Hard Drive (Mac) 1. Connect the external hard drive to the computer. Click Go on the top tool bar, and select Utilities. Open Disk Utility. Select the external hard drive on the left-hand side. Click the Partition tab. Change the Partition Layout from Current to 1 Partition. How to Format an External Drive in OS X. 1) Connect your external hard drive to the Mac. 2) Open Disk Utility. You can do this quickly by pressing CMD and the spacebar at the same time. Then type in “Disk Utility”. 3) Select the drive you want to format. 4) Click the Partition tab. 6) Change the Partition Layout from Current to 1 Partition. My Passport Won't Format. WD External Drives. External Drives for Mac. August 16, 2019, 9:19pm #1. Hello all, Today I bought the 4tb “My Passport” from Best Buy. I came home to set it up and backup my computer (a 2015 MacBook Pro running El Capitan 10.11.6) Before I did anything to it, I read through the user’s guide.

You can format an external hard drive or USB so that it’s compatible for both your Mac and your Windows PC.

To format your hard drive to FAT on Mac: Click on Spotlight and open Disk Utility. Click on the USB drive you want to format. Click the Erase tab at the top. Choose the MS-DOS (FAT) in the format drop down. Click Erase and follow the prompts. Your external hard drive to now formatted.

Without formatting the drive, you won’t be able to use your hard drive across different operating systems.

When you do format a hard drive, you’ll be able to access your data, media and files across any operating system.

This is extremely handy if you use a Mac and Windows operating system because you’ll be able to cross between both platforms and use your USB on anyone.

Remember that everything gets wiped off your hard drive when you format it, so you’ll need to back it up before you follow the steps down below.

Let’s get started…

Format Using MS-DOS FAT

The good thing about changing the format to FAT is that it works with all Macs and PCs, plus it uses less memory and it works faster.

The negatives of using Fat is that it can’t contain files bigger than 4GB.

To format your hard drive to FAT on Mac:

  1. Click on Spotlight and open Disk Utility
  1. Click on the USB drive you want to format
  1. Click the Erase tab at the top
  1. Choose the MS-DOS (FAT) in the format drop down
  2. Click Erase and follow the prompts
  3. Your external hard drive to now formatted

Remember that once you’ve formatted your hard drive, it will get wiped so you’ll need to backup the content on your external drive.

If you’re using a USB, you can simply drag its contents to a folder in your PCs hard drive and upload it back to your external hard drive once it has been formatted.

Format Using ExFAT

The good about formatting to exFAT is that it can handle unlimited file sizes and partition sizes.

The cons of exFAT are that you can only use it with Mac OS X 10.6.5 or newer and your Windows PC needs to be either Windows Vista SP1 or Windows 7 and above.

Another problem with exFAT is that it’s extremely slow so moving files to this drive will take several minutes.

Format External Drive For Mac

To Format using exFAT on Windows PC:

  1. Plug in your external hard drive in Windows PC
  2. Open File Explorer
  1. Right-click on your external drive and select Format
  1. Choose exFAT in the menu
  2. Click Start
  3. Your external drive is now formatted

After formatting your drive, it’s now compatible for both your Mac and your Windows PC.

Fat is the best option to use because you can use it on any OS, however, it can only contain 4GB which may not be enough for you.

If you have a new OS system, I’d definitely recommend exFAT because it can contain unlimited data.

Bottom Line

Format External Hard Drive For Mac

Going into Disk Unity then clicking the erase tab is the quickest way to format an external drive on your MAC.

If you have any questions or you’re having any problems, comment down below and I’ll help you further.

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To use Time Machine to make a backup of your Mac, you need any of these types of storage devices:

  • External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or AirPort Time Capsule
Format external drive for mac backup

After setting up the storage device, you can use Time Machine to make a backup of your Mac. And after making your backup, you can use Time Machine to restore files from your backup.

External drive connected to your Mac

Time Machine can back up to an external drive connected to a USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire port on your Mac.

External drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac) or AirPort Time Capsule

Time Machine can back up to an external USB drive connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11ac model) or AirPort Time Capsule.

  1. Make sure that the USB drive is formatted for Time Machine.
  2. Connect the drive to a USB port on your AirPort base station, then turn it on.
  3. Open AirPort Utility, then select your base station and click Edit to view its settings.
  4. Click the Disks tab in the settings window.
  5. Select your backup disk from the list of partitions, then select ”Enable file sharing”:
  6. If more than one user on your network will back up to this disk with Time Machine, you can use the Secure Shared Disks pop-up menu to make sure that they can view only their own backups, not yours. Choose ”With accounts” from the menu, then click the Add (+) button to add users.
  7. Click Update to restart your base station and apply the settings.

AirPort Time Capsule

Time Machine can back up to the built-in hard disk of an AirPort Time Capsule on your network.

Mac shared as a Time Machine backup destination

To use another Mac on your network as a Time Machine backup destination, complete these steps on the other Mac:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Sharing.
  2. From the list of services on the left, select File Sharing.
  3. From the list of Shared Folders on the right, Control-click the folder that you want to use for Time Machine backups.
  4. From the shortcut menu that opens, choose Advanced Options.
  5. From the Advanced Options dialog, select ”Share as a Time Machine backup destination.”

When setting up Time Machine on your other Mac computers, you should now be able to select the shared folder as a backup disk.

Network-attached storage (NAS) device that supports Time Machine over SMB

Many third-party NAS devices support Time Machine over SMB. For details, check the documentation for your NAS device.

How to format a disk for Time Machine

Time Machine supports all Mac OS Extended (Journaled) formats and Xsan formats. If the disk isn't using the correct format, Time Machine automatically prompts you to erase it when you connect it to your Mac:

If you need to erase the disk manually, use the Disk Utility app to erase using the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format.

Time Machine can't back up to an iOS device or disk formatted for Windows. And if your disk uses the Master Boot Record (MBR) partition scheme, some of its partitions might not be available for use with Time Machine.

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