You can format the external hard drive or USB drive to make it compatible with both Mac and Windows machines. This thing is still unknown for many users but doesn’t worry it’s not complex.
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Dec 06, 2019 How to Format a Hard Drive for Mac. Note: If you already used your external hard drive on a PC, be sure to back up any files on it. Formatting your drive will wipe out all the data in it. Connect an external hard drive to your Mac. Some external hard drives need to be plugged into an outlet to work. Aug 24, 2020 That said, our guide splits the external drive in half: One primary section capable of storing files larger than 4GB, and a secondary section capable of sharing files between MacOS and Windows 10.
If you are techy and use Windows and Mac computers frequently, then you might need to transfer data between Mac and PC. Windows and macOS filesystems are different and you might need to format the drive every time to use on both platforms. You don’t need to format the hard drive every time you can choose a filesystem while formating the drive so the hard drive or USB drive work on both Mac and PC
So to get rid of these situations we bring here a guide that will help you to format your drive which works on both platforms and you don’t need to format and backup data every time. After cross-compatible formatting, simply unplug the drive from one machine and then plug it to another. Sounds good to you right? So let’s started, how this works.
Understand file systems for Mac and PC
There are three common file system types to format an external USB or hard drive, SSD drive, SD card and etc. FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT, let’s have a look what’s the difference between these formats.
FAT 32 Format
This format is pretty old but supported and it’s not efficient as compared to NTFS. It doesn’t support big features but offers great compatibility which means it’s compatible with all versions of Windows. It can only support 4GB file size and up to 8TB hard drivers. It’s not capable to store files larger than 4GB.
NTFS is a modern format system and Windows also uses this format for itself and for other non-removable drives by default. This format is also compatible with all versions of Windows but limited to none Windows OS as FAT32.
exFAT drives are faster at reading and writing as compared to FAT32. This format can store large files and it’s also lightweight. It’s compatible with all versions of Windows and the best thing it’s along with Windows it’s also compatible with macOS, Linux, and Android, etc.
- If your drive is formatted as Windows default format NTFS then its only readable to macOS. You can’t do more than that or you have to install a separate app on Mac to read write the drive.
- Drive with macOS format HFS+ cant readable to Windows.
- FAT32 format works on both Windows and Mac but the problem is you can only work with the files with Maximum size 4GB.
Learn more: Copy data on NTFS drive in macOS
FAT32 is much better than NTFS and HFS+ coz it works on both operating systems. You can also install drivers on each OS to make work your drive. So exFAT is much better than all of these formats and a simple option but this will not work on Leopard.
Format and external hard drive on Mac
First, let’s see how to format an external hard drive or USB drive in macOS which works with both Mac and PC platforms, first plug-in your drive in macOS machine.
- Open Disk Utility on your macOS, press cmd + spacebar keys and type Disk Utility in the spotlight search. Open Disk Utility from the search results.
- On the Disk Utility interface, select an external drive click on the Erase button from top of the window (make sure and bcakup your drive before erasing it).
- Now enter the name for the external drive which will be used after formatting and also select exFAT for Format option and click on the Erase. This will format the drive as ExFAT format and your drive is now compatible with both platforms.
External Drive For Mac Format File
Format hard drive in Windows
The below steps for formatting external drive is for Windows 10 and also works the same with an old version of Windows. To format your external drive hard drive in Windows which works with both platforms, first plug-in your drive with Windows machine.
Open Disk Management tool by right-clicking on start menu icon and then select Disk Management. Now right click on the external drive and click on format option (double-check the drive name and capacity to make sure you are going to format the right drive.)
Now enter the Volume label as you need and change the File system for exFat and click Ok. Now you are done.
Share your experience, how do you use an external hard drive on both Mac and PC. Did you format the drive as exFAT ? or use any utility that helps the system to read another type of file system. Please leave a comment below.
Sep 03, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions
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, you must understand what is the 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 formats. 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 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 the 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 that 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.
- The 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 if 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 that 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:
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.
External Drive For Mac Format Software
Part 4. Different Formats of Hard Drive for Mac:
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Mac Hard drives have wide support for formats but there are two major formats that 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, you must 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.
- 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 an 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 the 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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