Reformat Hard Drive For Mac And Windows

  1. Wait for the process to complete and let the macOS erase data on the drive and reformat it by FAT32 or ex-FAT format. Then, you can use the drive in macOS or OS X as a regular hard drive. If you lost data after formatting your WD HDD on Mac, you can run EaseUS Mac data recovery software to get data back. How to Use WD My Passport for Mac.
  2. Dec 01, 2021 Compare the different options for formatting an external hard drive to work with Windows and Mac. And, no: the answer isn't always FAT32. Reformat External Hd Mac. Bonus: How to Recover Data from Formatted External Hard Drive on Mac. Reformatting an external hard drive for use with Mac OSX is not as difficult as it might seem.

Aug 25, 2021 Format your Western Digital My Passport external hard drive to FAT32 or ex-FAT format to conveniently transfer the data between a Mac and Windows system. There are specific third-party systems, like Digital Camcorders and Sony PlayStation, which need the drives to be formatted in either FAT32 or ex-FAT format to perform read and write operation. If your hard drive is less than 2TB, and you won’t save 4GB+ single file onto it, the FAT32 is a great choice. Instead, go for exFAT. Freeware to format portable hard drive for Mac and Windows. As far as we're concerned, for portable hard drive format for Mac and PC, the computer provides its own way.

Table of Content

1. Back Up Your Mac Hard Drive before Formatting
2. Format the Startup Disk in macOS Recovery Mode
3. Format a Mac External Hard Drive Using Terminal
4. Recover Data Lost due to Accidental Formatting

An internal or external Mac storage drive requires compatible files system format to be accessible in macOS. Different file system formats exist for different operating systems. For instance, you need:

  • APFSformat for macOS Big Sur 11, Catalina 10.15, or Mojave 10.14
  • Mac OS Extended format for macOS Sierra 10.12 or earlier
  • MS-DOS (FAT) or exFAT format to make your external storage drive cross-compatible with both macOS and Windows

A new Mac with its built-in solid-state drive or hard drive comes pre-formatted with a file system that contains the macOS. You may even need to manually format your internal or external Mac storage drive or volume in the compatible file system.Formatting is helpful for:

  • Preparing the startup disk to reinstall macOS
  • Resolving corruption or unreadable error of the storage drive
  • Changing the file system format for cross-compatibility
  • Perfecting the storage drive in case Disk Utility fails to repair it

But storage drive formatting involves certain risks. When your Mac storage drive has stored data on it, and you accidentally erase the drive in a new file system format, macOS removes all references to the data. So, you end up losing your data.

Also, when you connect a corrupt or unreadable external storage drive to your Mac, macOS will prompt you to initialize the disk. DO NOT click the Initialize button unless it’s a new drive or you have recovered data from it. The next section discusses the correct way to format your Mac storage drive without data loss.

1. Back Up Your Mac Hard Drive before Formatting

Before erasing your Mac hard drive be it internal or external, you must back up the drive to ensure zero data loss. For an external or non-boot volume, copy all your valuable files and folders, and paste them to another external storage device. And, for Macintosh HD, the startup disk, you can use Time Machine to back up your macOS as well as its stored data. If you haven’t set up your Time Machine backup drive, you can set up the drive now.

Read More: How to Set Up Time Machine on Mac

2. Format the Startup Disk in macOS Recovery Mode

If you want to reinstall macOS or upgrade your macOS, you need to format your Macintosh HD startup disk. But you can’t format the startup disk while your macOS is running. So, you need to boot your Mac in macOS Recovery mode to access the startup disk and erase it using Disk Utility. Once you’ve backed up your Macintosh HD by using Time Machine, perform the following steps to format your startup disk and reinstall macOS:

1- Restart your Mac and immediately press and hold Command + R keys. Release the keys once you see the Apple logo or spinning globe.

2- In the macOS Utilities window, click Disk Utility, and then click Continue. In the Disk Utility window, choose View > Show All Devices.

3- From the left panel, select Macintosh HD and click the Erase tab. Provide the Name, Format, and Scheme in the respective field, then click Erase.

4- Once Disk Utility formats the drive with a compatible file system, quit the app.

5- Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac. From macOS Utilities, select Restore from Time Machine Backup, and click Continue. Perform onscreen instructions to reinstall macOS and stored data.

6– Alternatively, from macOS Utilities, select Reinstall macOS to install a fresh copy of macOS from recovery drive or cloud. Perform the steps and restore data from backup.

3. Format a Mac External Hard Drive Using Terminal

To format Mac external storage drive or non-boot volume, you can open Disk Utility directly from Desktop and perform the erase operation. But sometimes Disk Utility throws an error while erasing an external storage drive. In that case, you can format the external drive on Mac by using Terminal, as described below:

  1. Press Command + Space Bar to open Spotlight. Type ‘terminal’ and hit Return to launch the Terminal application on your macOS.
  2. In the Terminal window, type diskutil list. Note the name and identifier of the external storage drive. Ensure you have backed up all the data from the external drive.
  3. Type diskutil eraseDisk FS DN D#. Here, replace the FS with the required file system format, DN with the name of the drive, and D# with the drive’s identifier.

When the process completes, Disk Utility erases the storage drive to the correct file system format. Now, you can restore the backed up data to the storage medium.

4. Recover Data Lost due to Accidental Formatting

Did you accidentally format a wrong hard drive on your macOS? Or erased the Mac external storage drive without backing it up in the first place?

Data loss can happen due to accidental formatting. And, Disk Utility doesn’t provide any option to undo the format. But you can get back your formatted data from the Mac hard drive by using a Mac hard drive recovery software. Perform the following steps:

Download and install the *trial version of Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac on your Mac mini, MacBook, or iMac.

On the “Select What To Recover” screen, let the default selection of Everything remain toggled on, and click Next.

On the “Select Location” screen, select the formatted Mac hard drive, turn on Deep Scan, and click Scan.

Once the scan is over, preview all the recoverable files. Click Recover, specify the save location, and click Save. Navigate to the save location to check your recovered data.

*The trial version ofStellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac software can scan the media and show preview of recoverable files. To save the files, you need to activate the software. And why wait if the software has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read More: How to Activate Stellar Data Recovery Professional on your Mac?


To format your Mac startup disk or external storage drive safely, you must back up the drive before erasing it with Disk Utility in a compatible file system format. In case Disk Utility fails to format the drive, use Terminal to perform the same task. But be careful while executing the Terminal commands, as any wrong operation can result in permanent data loss.

Also, when you’ve formatted your Mac hard drive or SSD accidentally without having any back-up, use Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac, a specialized data recovery software to salvage your lost data. The tool supports a variety of hard drive brands, USB types (Thunderbolt, 3.0, 2.0), and Fusion Drives.

Sep 14, 2021 • 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.

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.

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:


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.

Reformat Hard Drive For Mac And Windows

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:

Configure Seagate Hard Drive For Mac And Pc

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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