How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac

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What is the best file system for USB or external hard drive on Mac?

Windows and Mac OS X use different file systems. Windows uses NTFS and Mac can't write files to volumes with NTFS format.

So, if you want to use a USB flash drive or an external hard drive with NTFS format on Mac, you should first reformat the devices to the Mac OS Extended file system. It is the best way to ensure full Mac compatibility of a new external hard drive or flash disk.

Usually, FAT32 which can be read and wrote on Mac is recommended for maximum compatibility. And if you need to transfer files larger than 4 GB between Macs and Windows computers, exFAT or MS-DOS (FAT) is better.

Before using an external hard drive on a Mac, you should format it using Disk Utility. This insures that you will have a compatible hard drive with your comp. How to Format a Hard Drive in Mac OS X Connecting External Hard Drives. External hard drives can be any size, ranging from portable USB thumb drives to large. Use Disk Utility to Format an External Drive. After you connect an external drive to your Mac, open the Applications. Securely Repurpose.

How to format USB flash drive or external hard drive for Mac

But how can you format USB flash drive or external hard drive for Mac? Don’t worry! This page will show you two ways to do this job:

Format USB or external hard drive for Mac using Mac disk utility
Format USB or external hard drive for Mac on Windows PC using third-party USB format tool

Now, you can follow these two solutions to format any hard drive, flash drive, USB drive, SSD or any other external storage drive so as to make them work on your Mac now.

Method 1. Format USB or external hard drive for Mac using Mac Disk utility

Windows offers users built-in disk management tool to create, delete, resize, merge and format partitions. You can try the following steps to format USB or external hard drive for Mac with Disk Utility on Mac.

  1. 1. Connect the USB or external hard drive to your Mac computer.
  2. 2. Launch the Disk Utility by clicking 'Applications' > 'Utilities'.
  1. 3. Locate and click on your USB or external hard drive in Disk Utility and then click on 'Erase'.
  1. 4. Next to 'Format', click the contextual menu and select 'Mac OS Extended (Journaled)'.
  2. 5. Reset the drive name and click 'Erase', confirm the operation on the next pop-up window.
  1. Wait for the process to complete and then you'll get compatible HFS+ file system on your external hard drive or USB, which will make your device compatible and workable on your Mac.

Method 2. Format USB or external hard drive for Mac using third-party USB format tool on a Windows PC

If you need a simpler format tool to format USB or external hard drive to FAT32 to make them work on Mac, you can apply a third-party format tool to format them on Windows PC. EaseUS partition software is a popular disk partition management tool which is available for all hard disk related jobs such as format disk partition, extend system partition, settle low disk space problem.

Now you can try it to format USB or external hard drive on your Windows PC by following the steps below. If you stored important data on the USB or external hard drive, you can try this tool to convert NTFS to FAT32 without formatting.

Step 1: Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the 'Format' option.

Step 2: Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click 'OK'.

Step 3: In the Warning window, click 'OK' to continue.

Step 4: Click the 'Execute Operation' button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click 'Apply' to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

After this, you can connect your external hard drive/USB to Mac computer and use it to save data by then.

Sep 03, 2020 • 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 to perform it. 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, 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.

How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac Catalina

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.

How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac Os X

How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac

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:

How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac

How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac Os

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:

How To Format A Hard Drive For Macbook Pro

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 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:

APFS:

How to format a hard drive for mac backup

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.

How To Format A Hard Drive For MacHow To Format A Hard Drive For Mac

How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac And Windows

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.

Mac Disk Format Types

  • 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.

How To Format A Hard Drive For Mac Backup

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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