Here’s How to Format USB on Mac (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

How to Format USB on Mac

With a huge variety of flash drives in the market, it’s crucial that you invest in one which is compatible. Moreover, when it comes to Mac, you can’t expect just any USB to work or show compatibility with it.

There are a few flash drives, which need to be formatted before you use them on your Mac. There are also other flash drives, which don’t require to be formatted and are specifically used for Mac only. So if you are looking forward to using the former, you must understand how to format USB on Mac the correct way.

Moreover, you will only be able to store any data in these flash drives once the format is complete. And, this in-depth guide with help you with each step that must be followed to get your work accomplished. This article further digs into “how to format a hard drive for Mac and how to format USB to fat32” and more. Let’s dive in this guide without further ado:

Tip (before we begin): Ensure that you check and back-up every important file before you run a format on your device or a drive.

Opt for Disk Utility to Format USB Drive Mac

As discussed above, if you are looking forward to formatting your hard drives, USB or Micro SD cards or more, you may opt for Disk Utility for the same. Below-given are the required steps, which you may follow:

Step 1: At first, into your Mac, ensure plugging the device you have to format.

insert-flash-drive-on-macStep 2: Now, move to Applications and then Utilities and now, launch Disk Utility.


Step 3: At this point, select the drive or device that you need to format, which shows on the left-hand side and then click Erase.


Step 4: Now, go ahead and select the format that you want.

(Since there are multiple formats given depending upon various preferences people may have, you might get confused about which one to choose. And hence, I will discuss each separately so you can opt for the one you are actually looking for.)

format usb on mac

Step 5: Now, Click on the button named Erase to get your device reformatted.

How to Select the Right Format while using Disk Utility?

While you format hard drive for MAC using Disk Utility, there comes (Step 4 as mentioned above) where you require choosing one out of many.

The formats that show up include:

OS X Extended (Journaled), OS X Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled), OS X Extended (Journaled, Encrypted), OS X Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled, Encrypted), MS-DOS (FAT), ExFAT, etc.

Since choosing the correct option is crucial, one must know each format first. Also, depending upon if you want to use the formatted file system on Mac or Windows, this guide will help you choose better. Let’s dig in:

Mac OS Extended File System Formats:

  • OS X Extended (Journaled) or HFS+: This file system is a default option, which can run time machine backups.
  • OS X Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled): This one is basically a format that is case-sensitive to the names of the folders. This means ‘FILES’ and ‘files’ are not the same but separate names to be given to any folder.
  • OS X Extended (Journaled, Encrypted): This format is no different than a standard OS X Extended format; however, it includes encryption of the files or folders using a password.
  • OS X Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled, Encrypted): This format is inclusive of the standard OS X Extended format with both encryption and case-sensitivity.

Windows-Compatible Formats:

  • MS-DOS (FAT) or FAT32:

This format is only preferred where you have files less or equal to a size of 4 GB. Moreover, it allows the partition size of a maximum of 8 TB. Also, this is used by the majority for its compatibility with the majority of the devices.

  • ExFAT:

This format is only preferred over MS-DOS (FAT)/FAT32 when the size of the files, as well as the partition, is more than 4 GB, and 8 TB. ExFAT is also preferred because of the compatibility it allows as compared to the compatibility provided by NTFS.

How to Format USB to FAT32 using Disk Utility?

Well, if you have been wondering how to format UBS to fat32, use Disk Utility once again. You don’t have to follow any different processes other than shared above. You only have to ensure that on STEP 4, you opt for the format option that says MS-DOS (FAT32), and you are good to go.

This is how you will be able to erase all the data that you have to from your flash drive or device. The rest of the steps remain the same while using Disk Utility to format USB to FAT32. That’s quite easy, right?

Moreover, when you opt to format external hard drive MAC for a big chunk of data or files, the process could result in some data loss. It doesn’t matter how careful you are with the back-up and safety of your files; things can go out of hands.

To ensure extra security to prevent any data loss or file corruption or errors, get a recovery app or software.

These software come equipped with options like Create boot drive, Backup, Clean up, Find duplicates, etc to deal with the same efficiently.

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