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How To Format External Hard Drive On Mac: Format The Drive Before Connecting it to Your Mac


The new hard drive you get for Mac might already be formatted. Many external drives have software to start, but you can still use the Disk Utility option to format external hard drive on Mac. This application is used to manage both internal and external drives. Before learning how to format an external hard drive on Mac, let’s read out what things you should keep in mind.

What to consider when you Format External Hard Drive on Mac?

Use the Finder software on Mac computers to explore and manage files on your computer and external hard drives. A hard disc must first be formatted, erased, and reformatted to read or write data. A hard drive is frequently reformatted purely to erase everything on it.

Choose the right drive while formatting a hard drive with Disk Utility. If unsure, disconnect and eject all the drives before reconnecting just the drive you want to delete.

Make a backup before wiping the files

To save the files on an external hard drive after formatting, you must back them up (copy) to another disc. Dividing the files from one drive to the other is the simplest way to duplicate them. If you have a second drive, you can also use the Restore function to delete everything before replacing it with the data from the drive you want to back up.

How to Format external hard drive on Mac

Mostly, the hard drives are designed to be useful to work for windows, but you should format the external drive if you want to connect it to the Mac. Here is all about how to format an external hard drive on Mac.

  1. Attach an external hard drive to your Mac.
  2. Lunch the Disk Utility application on your Mac if you don’t have it.
  3. Go to the spotlight research of your Mac and type disk utility. The disk utility app will be shown that contains all the internal and external drives.

Note: You can also go to the Applications to search for Disk Utility.

  1. Select the drive that you intend to format. The drives can be seen on the screen’s left side under the external hard drive option.
  2. Click on the option of Erase on the top menu. A pop-up window will be opened containing a warning that erasing the drive can delete all the stored data.
  3. Select a format, name, and scheme for the disk by the name you want to use. But you can select from the following formats:
  • Since it works with all Macs, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is the best choice for most Mac users.
  • Only Macs running macOS 10.13 or later and newer are compatible with APFS (Apple File System).
  • PC and Mac systems can both use exFAT.
  • Both Mac and PC can use MS-DOS (FAT). However, you can only transfer files that are less than 4GB in size.
  1. Click Erase when you’re through entering the setup information. The entire drive will be immediately erased.
  2. Click Partition in Disk Utility after selecting the drive.
  3. Enter how much room you wish to dedicate to the Time Machine. Instead of letting Time Machine occupy the entire drive in this case, we’ve shrunk the Time Machine partition to 128GB.
  4. Tap Apply.
  5. Choose a new untitled partition as exFAT to format the disk for use with both Windows and Mac.
  6. Select Erase.
  7. Choose exFAT as the Format and give the partition a name.
  8. To complete, click Erase.

You can now utilize your exFAT-formatted drive or partition on Mac. So make sure you have backup copies of any important data stored on the shared drive, and take particular care to carefully eject the disc before unplugging it. With these steps, you can easily format an external hard drive on Mac.


When you format an external hard Drive on a Mac, it’s wise to exercise caution, but don’t stress yourself out by believing it will take a lot of time and effort. Any hard drive error you get while using your Mac can easily be fixed.

You could only require assistance if the drive fails due to hardware damage. And if the issue is that you’ve deleted everything and want to recover the data from a formatted drive, TechyWired assists you in this way. Either way, all you need to do is adhere to the instructions.

Read More, If you looking for the best cheap MacBooks out there in the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Format should I use to format the external hard drive on Mac?

The ideal Format to utilize is exFAT if you want to use your external hard drive with Mac and Windows machines. Files of any size can be stored using exFAT, and devices produced in the last 20 years can use them.
However, Mac OS Extended (Journaled), which is compatible with all Macs, would be the ideal choice if your external hard drive is only intended for usage with Macs.

How to format external hard drive on Mac?

You can format an external hard drive on Mac. Before wiping files, make a backup.
Launch Finder after connecting the hard disc to your computer and turning it on.
Utilities can be found by clicking the Go menu.
Click the Erase button after selecting the external hard drive from the Internal, External, and Disk Images list on the left.
Click Erase after entering a Name and choosing a Format and Scheme.

Does a Mac hard drive need to be formatted?

A drive can be utilized on either a PC or a Mac. However, the drive needs to be formatted with the right file system for the computer and drive to communicate. This page offers instructions on how to format a disc on Windows and Mac and explanations of file systems.

What is the ideal hard disc format for a Mac?

Use the APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format when formatting a drive for optimum performance. Use the APFS Format if your Mac runs macOS Mojave or a later version. If you wish to keep the data, establish a backup before formatting a disc because any data already on the volume is erased.

How can I know if my external hard drive is Mac-compatible?

From the /Applications/Utility folder, launch Disk Utility. Choose the hard drive from the left-hand column (usually Macintosh HD). You will see Format down at the bottom.

Does formatting Mac’s hard disc completely wipe it clean?

You can clean up and reformat storage devices for usage with your Mac via Mac’s Disk Utility. Everything on a storage device is erased. Copy any files you want to keep to a different storage device.

Is exFAT suitable for Mac?

The best Format for external drives compatible with Mac and PC is exFAT. Mac and PC users can mount an exFAT drive and have complete access to all files.

Should my hard drive be formatted?

By eliminating harmful programs during the formatting process, formatting a hard disc can enhance the performance of your computer. Computer viruses and other dangerous software may go undetected for long periods, yet they can roam the system’s hard drive and corrupt some crucial information.

How long does formatting a hard drive take?

Depending on the hard drive’s capacity and the amount of space consumed, you can always format a hard disc in minutes or a half-hour. According to estimates, performing a “full format” on a 1TB hard disc in Windows will take a long time—about two hours—and it might even take a day when done over a USB 2.0 connection.

Which is better for Mac: exFAT or FAT32?

ExFAT is more efficient than FAT32. Both Windows and Mac can format the HDD. However, since there is an additional step to make the drive compatible with Time Machine, if you wish to use a portion of the drive for OS X’s Time Machine backups, you should do this from the Mac.

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