1. How To Reformat External Hard Drive
  2. How To Format Hard Drive For Mac On Windows 10
  3. How To Format Hard Drive For Mac And Pc
  4. How To Format Hard Drive For Mac 2018
  5. How To Format Hard Drive For Mac Seagate

How to Format a Hard Drive on a Mac - Duration: 6:58. Rocky Mountain School of Photography 48,387 views. Part 1: How to Format a Hard Drive for Mac. Find the name of that drive on the left side of the Disk Utility panel. Then click on the 'Erase' tab on the top. Now, just beside format click on the MacOS Extended (Journaled) as the system. If you want to change the name of the drive you can do it.

Aug 21,2019 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

“I just bought a new USB flash drive and a hard drive for extra storage, but they are not compatible with my Mac. The only solution I can find is to format the drives but I don’t know how. Can someone tell me how do I format a new hard drive for Mac?”

There are lots of people who mistakenly think that the USB drives and hard drives format don’t really matter. But the reality is quite different. Whether it is a hard drive or USB or internal drive, Mac uses different format support. So, you can’t simply use the same drive with both Windows and Mac. As a result, you will need to format the hard drive for Mac. Using the Mac preferred file system is important otherwise the files will be of no use to you.

In this article, we are going to discuss how to format a hard drive for Mac and some related terms too.

Part 1. Situations When Formatting a Hard Drive on Mac:

Before you get deep, it is important that you understand what is drive formatting. Some people confuse the term with reformatting. Basically, formatting is the process of preparing the storage devices such as hard disk drive, solid-state drive, USB flash drive, or any other for initial use.

The basic operation is termed as low-level formatting which means erasing the existing data on the disk. But it leaves the track to recover the data using the recovery tool.

There is another term related to disk formatting and it is called reformatting. It is called high-level formatting as it is used to prepare the disk for different file system format. It is usually done during the OS installation or adding a new disk. Reformatting is done to free the storage space from the previous content stored in it.

You can consider disk formatting in macOS in the various circumstances. Whether your system has corrupted data, damaged software, impending system upgrade, storage is full, or it is running slow, formatting will fix a lot of issues. Take a look at the scenarios given below and you will be sure that disk formatting will help you.

  • If you want to quickly erase all content from the drive permanently without leaving a trace of data on it.
  • If you want to change the format of the disk such as PC format like FAT or exFAT to Mac format.
  • If you see the message that the disk is not readable by Mac.
  • If you want to resolve a disk issue that can’t be fixed by Repair feature of Disk Utility.
  • If the macOS installer can’t see the disk or unable to install it.
  • In case the macOS installer says that the drive can’t be installed because it is a part of Apple RAID.

Under all these situations, formatting is most likely to fix your problems and you will be able to use the drive on Mac.

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

Formatting is a very simple procedure which is operated in a similar way for all sorts of storage media. So, whether you wish to format the internal hard drive, external drive, or a USB flash drive, the procedure is the same for all. Here is the step by step guide you need to follow to format the hard disk on Mac. Before you erase a disk, make sure that you have a backup of the files you want to keep.

Step 1: Connect the USB drive or external drive to Mac and launch the Disk Utility from Applications.

Step 2: From the left side panel, pick the volume or the drive that you want to format and switch to the Erase tab.

Step 3: As you click on the Erase button, you will see several fields in the section. Enter the given information-

  • Name- Enter a name for the disk such as Macintosh HD/SSD/USB Drive or anything else you want.
  • Format- You have to choose a Mac supported format from the list. The most recommended format is APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled). There are numerous other formats too which will be displayed in the drop-down menu. You can select any format as per your requirement.
  • Scheme- If this option is available, then you should choose the GUID Partition Map from the option.

Step 4: After specifying the fields, click on the Erase button at the bottom of the window and Disk Utility will format the drive.

Once the formatting is complete, you can use the disk for a backup drive, sharing, time machine backup, or any other requirement. In case the drive doesn’t appear in the Disk Utility interface, you will have to disconnect all the extra and non-essential devices connected to Mac. Make sure that the External drive is on and connected properly. Restart your Mac and then carry out the task.

Part 3. How to Perform Mac Data Recovery After Format:

There are situations when Mac users don’t get the chance to create a backup of their data and forced to format the hard drive. But you don’t need to panic. You can get your hands on Recoverit data recovery for Mac. If you have mistakenly formatted the data that you still need, Recoverit is the best chance you have to get the files back. It is a complete data recovery solution which is capable of recovering all kinds of files with wide format support of 1000+.

You can download the software from the official website and install it immediately on Mac. Once the setup is complete, follow the steps below to recover formatted drive files.

Step 1: Specify Location:

How To Reformat External Hard Drive

Run the program and specify a location from the main drive. If data is lost from an external drive or USB flash drive, then you’ll have to connect the drive with the system and then specify the location.

Click on the Start button to initiate the scanning process.

Step 2: Scan Results:

Depending on the data that is lost or deleted, scanning will take some time. As the process finishes, the files will be displayed on the screen according to their respective format.

You can decide whether you want to look for files according to file type or file path. You can also stop the scanning process in between if the results are displayed before the scanning finishes.

Step 3: Preview and Recover Formatted Data:

As soon as the data is displayed on the screen, you can have a preview of the files. Select as many files as you want and have a preview of the files. Tap on the Recover button to save the files on your system.

As you are retrieving the files, keep in mind not to save the files in the previous location. Depending on the amount of recovery, it will take a while and ultimately you’ll have your files back. If the normal scan doesn’t work for you, Recoverit also has a Deep scan mode to look deeper for the deleted and lost files.

Part 4. Different Formats of Hard Drive for Mac:

Mac Hard drives have wide support for formats but there are two major formats which are preferably used by the Mac users. It also depends on the macOS version you are using. The key point to consider is that the drives formatted with the newer versions won’t be recognized by the older devices. So, when you are formatting a USB drive, it will be ideal to choose the right format which is Mac OS Extended.

The supported Mac formats for the drive are explained below:


The APFS format is optimal for Solid State Drive such as flash drives. Hence, if you are formatting a flash drive, you should definitely choose the APFS format. Along with the flash drives, this format is also faster and more reliable for Mac hard drives.

Mac OS Extended:

Talking about Mac OS Extended, it is perfectly suitable if you want to use a drive for backup. The Time Machine feature of Mac still doesn’t have support for APFS disk. In case you select this format, Time Machine will prompt you to reformat the drive.

When you are formatting disk on Mac, keep some things in mind. Never ever change the inbuilt format of a Mac drive.

Part 5. Tips for Formatting a Hard Drive on Mac:

Even though formatting doesn’t seem like a big deal, still it can be very helpful. So, it is important that you stay active and keep all things in mind. Here are some tips that might help you when you are about to format a Mac hard drive.

How To Format Hard Drive For Mac On Windows 10

  • Disk Utility in macOS Sierra and later chooses a compatible format for you automatically. But you should know the default format for your drive. It is advised not to change the default format of a Mac hard drive under any circumstances.
  • You can check the format of a drive inside the Disk Utility Menu bar. Just click on the Get Info option and you’ll know the current format a drive is using to store files. Open the System information and select the storage. In the right side panel, you will see the respective format for each volume on your Mac.
  • If you want to erase your disk before you install the latest High Sierra on your Mac for the first time, then opt out for the Mac OS Extended format. During the installation of OS, the macOS installer will automatically decide whether to use APFS or Mac OS Extended for the disk.
  • You can also use the FAT32 format on Mac for USB drives if you wish to use it on both Mac and Windows. The FAT32 format can be read and written on both OS and hence it is the most versatile format for use.
  • If you wish to transfer big files from Windows to Mac, you’ll still have an alternative, i.e. exFAT. This format doesn’t have a file limit but it can only be read on Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later.

So, before you pick out the format, look out for the advantages and the disadvantages of the formats to choose the optimal format for Mac. The Windows supported format is usually listed as MS-DOS format in the list of formats.

Wrapping It Up:

As you can see, now you know how to format hard drive/ USB flash drive/ internal drive/external drive on Mac. So, from now on whenever someone is in need, you can help them. And formatting doesn’t always finish without complications. So, if you lost some important files while formatting the drive, you can use Recoverit data recovery software for Mac to restore them in original condition. Recommend the software to your friends and family and let them know that there is a master tool for recovery for both Mac and Windows OS in the market.


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Oct 29,2019 • 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 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 which 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 virus, 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 virus 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 the suitable format as it depends on your usage. So, it is better that you know your options and understand 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 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.

How To Format Hard Drive For Mac And Pc

As you can see, using the APFS or HFS+ format for Mac is ideal to avoid complication 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.

How To Format Hard Drive For Mac 2018

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?

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 is convenient to get them back. It has a wide array of format and file 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.

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

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.

So, you now know what you can to 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.

How To Format Hard Drive For Mac Seagate

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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