Nowadays, when you buy a USB drive, you can use it right out of the box with your Mac. However, unless it’s been designed for use with a Mac, it won’t be formatted using macOS’ preferred file system (either Mac OS Extended or APFS, depending on which version of macOS you’re running).
That’s because most of the computers in the world run Windows, and Windows uses a different file system, usually one known as Fat32. Drives formatted as Fat32 can be read from and written to by macOS, but it’s not optimal and you’re more likely to run into problems than if you use macOS’ native format. So, if you’ve bought a USB drive that’s formatted as Fat32, or any other format other than Mac OS Extended (also known as HFS+) or APFS, here’s how to format a USB drive on Mac. It’s exactly the same procedure if you need to reformat a flash drive on a Mac.
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How to format a USB drive on a Mac
1. Plug the drive into a USB socket (if you have a recent MacBook or MacBook Pro that only has USB-C connectors, you’ll need a USB-C to USB-A adaptor).
2. Open a new Finder window and click on the drive. Make sure it has no files on it that you need. The process of reformatting it will wipe all the data from it.
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- If you want to use your USB stick with an Apple Mac, you will need to restart or power-on the Mac with the USB stick inserted while the Option/alt (⌥) key is pressed. This will launch Apple’s ‘Startup Manager’ which shows bootable devices connected to the machine.
3. Once you’ve copied any files you need from the USB drive to your Mac, go to Applications>Utilities and double-click on Disk Utility.
4. Click on the USB drive in the sidebar and then choose Erase from the toolbar at the top of the window.
5. In the window that drops down type a name for the formatted drive in the box next to Name.
6. Choose a format from the dropdown menu.
7. If you have previously stored sensitive data on the drive, click the Security tab.
8. Choose a security level using the slider. The further to the right you move the slider, the more ‘passes’ the erase tool will make and the more securely files will be deleted. However, it also increases the time it takes to format the drive quite considerably.
9. Click Ok then click Erase.
Tip: You don’t need to erase a whole drive to delete files securely. If you have confidential files or sensitive data you need to remove from your Mac completely, you should use CleanMyMac’s File Shredder. It’s specifically designed to securely delete sensitive data and will render it unrecoverable. You can download CleanMyMac X for free here.
Which format to choose?
If your Mac is running macOS High Sierra or later, you have two options for file formats: APFS and Mac OS Extended. Which should you choose? The key point is that disks formatted as APFS won’t be recognized by Macs running versions of macOS older than High Sierra. So if you think you might need to plug the USB drive into a Mac running an older version of macOS, format it as Mac OS Extended.
APFS is optimized for SSD (solid state drive) such as flash drives, so if you reformat a flash drive on a Mac, you should definitely choose APFS (unless you plan to use it with a pre-High Sierra Mac, of course). Even on hard drives, however, APFS is faster and more reliable than Mac OS Extended.
Finally, if you plan to use the USB drive as a destination for Time Machine backups, choose Mac OS Extended. Time Machine can’t currently back up to an APFS disk and if you select one for use with Time Machine, it will offer to reformat it as Mac OS Extended. You can, however, backup an APFS formatted disk to a Mac OS Extended Time Machine drive.
How to format a USB drive to FAT32 on a Mac
The main reason for formatting a USB drive as Fat32 on a Mac is that you want to be able to use the drive on a Windows PC, as well as a Mac — perhaps to transfer files between the two machines. You may also be preparing the drive for use as, say, a storage device for a media player or to record TV programmes on a TV with a USB port.
The fact that Fat32 can be read from and written to on both Mac and Windows makes it very versatile. However, there is a significant limitation — individual files have a maximum size of 4GB. So, if you’re using the USB drive to store large video files, you may run into trouble. There is a solution, however, exFAT. Unlike FAT32, exFAT doesn’t have a maximum file limit. Better still, it can be read from and written to on any Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later and on Windows.
To format a USB drive in FAT32 or exFAT:
1. Plug the USB drive into your Mac.
2. Go to Applications>Utilities and launch Disk Utility.
3. Click on the USB drive in the sidebar in Disk Utility.
4. Click Erase in the Disk Utility toolbar.
5. Type in a name for the formatted disk.
6. Click on the Format menu and choose either MS-DOS (FAT32) or ExFAT.
7. Click Erase.
Your USB drive will now be erased and re-formatted as either FAT32 or ExFAT, depending on the format you chose in step 6.
How to manage your drives easily
If you look for a quick and easy way to manage your drives, try using CleanMyDrive 2. With its help, you can drag-and-drop files directly to any drive, clean hidden junk from external drives, and check disk stats. It works for all drives, including USB drives, SSD, SD cards, external hard drives. All the drives will be at hand in the menu bar, so you can get to see types of drives you have and manage them easily. CleanMyDrive is absolutely free to use, so download it on the Mac App Store and enjoy!
It’s very easy to format a USB drive on a Mac using Disk Utility. There are a couple of things you should keep in mind, however. The first is that when you format and disk, you will erase all the data currently on it. So if you need that data, make sure you copy it onto another disk before you start. Secondly, there are several formats to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantage. Use the guide above to help you decide which is right for you.
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By Adela D. Louie, Last updated: August 27, 2019
In today’s technology, if you buy a USB hard drive, you can just simply use it directly using your Mac. However, there are instances that not unless that your flash drive is build to use for your Mac, you will not be able to format it.
Why is this so? The answer to this is because most of the computers actually run on Windows and they actually use a different file format which is known to be the Fat32.
Those drives that are formatted in Fat32 can be used in your Mac for reading and writing but there might be an instance that you might experience some trouble once that you use your macOS native format.
So, in case that you have a flash drive that is formatted into Fat32 or any type of format rather than having a Mac OS Extended or AFPS, then we are going to show you in this article how you could possibly format your flash drive using your Mac.
Part 1: How To Format Flash Drive On Mac
Here are the steps that you need to follow. Do these steps and you will then be able to format your flash drive on your Mac.
Step 1: Go ahead and plug in your flash drive in the USB port on your Mac.
Step 2: After that, go ahead and launch the Finder and click on your flash drive detected by your Mac.
Step 3: See to it that there are no files saved on your flash drive that you no longer need. This is because formatting your flash drive will remove all the data that is stored in it. If there are some files that you want to remain, simply copy these files to your Mac.
Step 4: After getting all the files that you need from your flash drive, go ahead and click on “Applications” and then click “Utilities” and then choose “Disk Utility”.
Step 5: And then, go ahead and click on your flash drive from the sidebar.
Step 6: Once that you have chosen your flash drive, go ahead and click on the “Erase” button located at the toolbar at the top of the window.
Step 7: On the next window that will appear on your screen, go ahead and key in a name for the flash drive that you are formatting from the box next to the “Name” option.
Step 8: And then select a format that you want from the drop-down menu.
Step 9: No, if you have previously stored a data on your flash drive that is highly sensitive, just go ahead and click on the Security Tab.
Step 10: From the security tab, go ahead and choose the level of the security that you want. The more that you move to your right, then the more “passes” the deleted tool will be but it will securely delete your files. However, doing to so will take more of your time to format your flash drive.
Step 11: After that, go ahead and click on the “OK” button and then click on the “Erase” button.
Part 2: Choosing the Right Format
There are formats that you need to choose from depending on the Mac that you are using. If you are using the macOS Sierra or a later version, then you have to options to choose from. One is the AFPS and the other one is the Mac OS Extended. The question now here is that which one should you choose.
You have to keep in mind that once you have formatted your flash drive into AFPS, then those Macs that are running on macOS that is older than the High Sierra will not be able to recognize it.
So, if you would want to use your flash drive on Macs that are running on High Sierra, then you have to choose the Mac OS Extended format.
However, you also have to know that AFPS is actually optimized for SSD or “solid state drive” and it includes flash drives.
That is why if you are going to reformat a flash drive on your Mac, then you should definitely choose the AFPS format as it is known to be the most reliable and faster than the Mac OS Extended. But again, that is if you do not have any plans in using it on a pre-High Sierra course.
And lastly, if in case that you would want to use your flash drive as one of your backup options in Time Machine, then you should definitely have it formatted in Mac OS Extended.
This is because Time Machine does not have the ability yet to backup flash drives that are formatted in AFPS. So, if you are using an AFPS formatted flash drive on Time Machine, it will just ask you to format your flash drive into Mac OS Extended.
Part 3: How To Format Flash Drive To Fat32 On Your Mac
Once that you have a flash drive, then what you would need to do is to have it formatted into Fat32. Why? This is because once that you have formatted your flash drive into Fat32, then you will be able to use it on both Windows and Mac PC when you want to save or transfer files with either of the two.
The Fat32 format can be used – read or write – with both Mac and Windows PC and because of this, it makes the device more versatile.
However, there are some limitations that you should need to know such as an individual file should only have a maximum size of 4GB. But do not worry because there is still something you can do about it and that is by formatting it to exFAT.
The exFAT format will not give any limitations on the file size that you are going to store on your flash drive and you can still use it on both Windows and Macs that are running in Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later version. For you to be able to format your flash drive into Fat32, here is what you need to do.
Step 1: Go ahead and connect your flash drive to your Mac.
Step 2: And then, go to Application and then click on Utilities.
Step 3: After that, go ahead and launch Disk Utility.
Step 4: And then, go ahead and click on your flash drive located at the sidebar in Disk Utility.
Step 5: After that, click on 'Erase' in the Disk Utility window.
Step 6: After that, go ahead and enter the name for the flash drive that you formatted.
Step 7: And then, choose the Format menu and then select MS-DOS (FAT32) or the ExFAT.
Step 8: After that, go ahead and click on the 'Erase' button.
Once that you are done with the provided steps for you, your flash drive will then completely wipe out all the data stored and it is re-formatted into either an ExFAT or FAT32 depending on what you have chosen on the previous steps.
Part 4: Getting Your Mac System Run Fast
Now that you have known with how you can format your flash drive on your Mac, now it is time for you to get your Mac cleaned up.
Getting your Mac clean on a regular basis after doing tasks can help your Mac maintain its speed and will also give you more space for your storage.
There is one great option for you to clean up your Mac in no time and this is by using the software called the FoneDog Mac Cleaner.
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The FoneDog Mac Cleaner will help you to speed up your Mac with just a few simple clicks. This software can also help you in scanning your Mac faster and find all of your junk files on your Mac.
It also has the capability of checking your Mac's system status which includes your CPU status, your memory usage and more. This way, you will have an idea of what is the data that is actually eating up a lot of storage space on your Mac and which is causing it to perform slower than the usual.
The FoneDog Mac Cleaner will not only help you in removing all of the junk files that you have on your Mac. It can also help you to completely uninstall applications that you no longer use together with all the files that are associated with that app. It can also serve as a Similar Image Finder, an Extension Manager, a Duplicate Finder, and more.
For you to start cleaning up your Mac, all you have to do is to follow all the steps that we are going to provide to you. Do not worry, this is really simple and easy to follow and it will not consume a lot of your time. In addition, the screenshots below are shown under the dark mode on Mac.
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Step 1: Download and Install
Have the FoneDog Mac Cleaner downloaded from our official website at https://www.fonedog.com/mac-cleaner/. Once that you have completely downloaded the program, go ahead and have the program installed on your Mac.
Step 2: Launch the Program
After that installation process is complete, go ahead and run the program on your Mac. Once that the program is up and running, you will be able to see on your screen the system status of your Mac. With that information, you will have an idea which files are taking up a lot of space on your Mac.
Step 3: Select Cleaner
Cleaner provides you with the cleaning function for the system, photo, email, files, apps and other fields on your Mac.
Step 4: Choose iTunes Junk
Here, take iTunes Junk as an example to show you how to clean junks on your Mac to make your Mac run faster.
Note: As for the other tools like 'System Junk' and 'Email Junk', the steps to clean up them is the same as that in 'iTunes Junk' tool.
Step 5. Scan iTunes Files
After clicking into the page of iTunes Junk, press the Scan button to start scan all the iTunes backups, Cache, updates and downloads on your Mac.
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Step 6: Review and Select Items
After that scanning process is completely done, you will be able to see on the left side of your window screen a list of category folders of all the junk files of iTunes that you have on your Mac. If you click each folder, you will see on the right side of your screen all the items that each folder contains.
Review each item on each folder for you to make sure that all the junk files shown on your screen are unnecessary any more.
Once that you are satisfied with the result, you can go ahead and simply click on the 'Clean' button to clean up all your junk files.
Step 7: Confirm Your Choice
There would be a pop-up window called Confirmation turning up. Please press the 'Confirm' button if you are sure to delete the selected files; otherwise, please press the Cancel button and return to the previous page.
Step 8: Cleaning Done
Once that the cleaning process is done, all those unnecessary files that you have there will all be deleted from your Mac.
Part 5: Conclusion
Now, as you can see, formatting your flash drive on your Mac is a very easy thing to do. All you need to have is the knowledge on how you can do.
And keep in mind that if you are going to format your flash drive, make sure that you choose the right format so that you can use it in any PC.
Formatting is easy, just like in cleaning up your Mac. Getting your Mac tidy is one of the best things that you should do for you to be able to maintain the speed of your Mac and of course for you to get more space on your storage. And the best way for you to clean up your Mac is by using the FoneDog Mac Cleaner.
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