Ways To Format USB Drive on macOS


The Mac operating system is much less common than Windows, and when you first get to know it, users may have trivial questions. Many standard procedures in the Apple desktop operating system are not done in the same way as in the usual Windows system, and even problems with deleting information from external drives can occur. If you have a question about how to format a USB flash drive on a Mac, you should know that there are ways to do this, which will be described below. 

The MacOS operating system initially provides the tools that will be required to completely format the usb drive from the information on it. This is done using the “Disk Utility”, running which you can select all the necessary formatting options for a USB flash drive or external hard drive.

But first things first.

Why to format a flash USB drive on Mac?

There are various reasons why you should format the USB flash drive on a Mac. Here are the three most common ones:

Make sure the flash drive is fully compatible with Mac. Most flash drives are formatted for use with Windows.

The difference between macOS and Windows is that they use different file systems. A Mac uses either Mac OS Extended or AFPS as the file system, while Windows typically uses FAT32.

FAT32 formatted drives can still be used with macOS, but there is a good chance that you will run into problems along the way.

Besides, Time Machine does not work with drives that are not fully compatible with Macs. Time Machine is a built-in Mac feature that backs up files to an external storage device, such as a flash drive.

To free up space on your flash drive. USB drives have limited memory space. Sometimes it’s enough to delete unnecessary files or transfer several of them to a computer.

This is sometimes not the case. That’s when formatting your USB drive on mac becomes the best solution.

To get rid of viruses and other problems. Flash drives are popular for their mobility, but they can also carry viruses that can spread to other computers.

Formatting a usb drive on a Mac is a simple but effective way to delete them. Although macOS is generally much safer than Windows, this does not mean that your Mac cannot be exposed to viruses.

How to format a USB flash drive on Mac

Before you begin formatting a flash drive on a mac, you should first consider which format you are going to use. Choosing the right format is critical, as this will affect its compatibility with your Mac.

Certain formats work better on certain versions of macOS. The given format is something that you will have to adhere to for a long time, so it is better if you make the right decision from the very beginning.

Below there are the available formats and when to use them.

APF. Short for Apple File System, APFs only works with Macs running High Sierra or newer.

It is optimized for solid state drives (SSDs) such as flash drives, and this guarantees better performance than Mac OS Extended.

If you intend to use the USB drive only with the new Mac, it is highly recommended that you use APFs. The disadvantage is that it is not compatible with Time Machine.

This means that you cannot set the flash drive as the destination of your backup.

Mac OS Extended. If your Mac runs on MacOS Sierra or lower, this format is suitable. However, Mac OS Extended works with High Sierra and higher.

This will work well if you think you will need to use the drive on an old Mac. However, in terms of speed, he will catch up.

Alternatively, you can use a flash drive to back up using Time Machine.

FAT32 – It is the the most versatile on the list, allows you to use a USB drive in both Windows and Mac. In fact, it is the most widely compatible file system.

It works on most game consoles, media players, and other devices. However, it can only support single files up to 4GB in size.

We do not recommend using this format if you plan to store large files such as videos.

EXFAT. This is very similar to FAT32 in terms of compatibility. It works on both Windows and macOS.

However, it is not supported by as many consoles and devices as FAT32. The great thing is that it has no file size limit.

If you want full Mac compatibility, choose between APFS and Mac OS Extended. If you plan to transfer files between a computer with Windows and Mac, you should choose either FAT32 or exFAT.

If you just free up space or get rid of viruses on your flash drive, just select the previous format.

So, have you decided which format is best for you and your Mac? If you have one, refer to our step-by-step guide on how to format a USB flash drive on a Mac.

Steps how to Format Usb Flash Drive on Mac

For users who are just starting to use the Mac, and before that they worked only with Microsoft products, it does not immediately become clear how to format usb drive on a Mac.

So, the following steps should be:

Step 1: Connect the flash drive to the USB port.

Newer MacBook and MacBook Pro models ship with USB-C ports only. You will need to connect the USB-C adapter to the port before you can connect the flash drive.

Step 2: Launch the Finder window.

Open the Finder window. You should see your flash drive in the list under the “Devices” section.

Open it. If you have files on disk, be sure to transfer them first to your Mac or other external storage device. Formatting your flash drive will destroy all the files on it.

Step 3: Launch Disk Utility.

Now go to Applications and select Utilities. Click “Disk Utility” to open it, and click on the name of the flash drive in the sidebar. Click on the “Erase” tab at the top of the window.

Step 4. Select the format for your flash drive.

In the drop-down list next to “Format”, select the format that you want to use for the flash drive. You can also set a name for your drive. Just enter it in the box next to the name.

Step 5. Format the USB flash drive.

Click “Erase”. A dialog box will appear. Click “Erase” to confirm and wait for your Mac to complete formatting.

Please note that the standard utility for Mac not only allows you to format a USB flash drive or an external hard drive, but also break it into several partitions. If the drive is large, then this can be an interesting solution, since each section can be formatted by the user in a separate format.

Formatting a flash drive in macOS seems like a difficult task only at first glance. In reality, all operations are performed very easily.