How to Format Hard Disk, USB Flash Drive, SSD for Mac OS X

Admittedly, the Mac OS X platform is fundamentally different from the Windows platform. Coming from Windows to macOS can be somewhat confusing, even on the little things like formatting a hard drive, USB flash drive, or SSD.

If you are experiencing such ‘confusion,’ we are going to walk you through how to format a hard drive for a Mac OS X computer. But before we get down to that, here is some interesting fact you ought to know.

Most generic computer drives come preformatted for use on Windows PCs and are not compatible with Mac OS X out of the box. Though should you plug one into a Mac, it will generally read and work. That is because Mac can easily read other filesystem formats including those of Windows like MSDOS, FAT, FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS formats.

However, you should know a drive formatted to be entirely compatible with the Mac filesystem is more recommended and necessary for use with Time Machine and making bootable Mac OS X disks.

On the other hand, if you plan on using the disk between your Mac and Windows PC, you can format it to a filesystem compatible to both.

How to Format Disk on Mac Computer

Whether you want to format a hard drive, solid state drive (SSD), USB Flash drive, microSD card or any other type of disk. The procedure is the same. It also doesn’t matter if the disk is connected via USB, Thunderbolt, or Firewire. The steps are a follows:

Connect the disk to your Mac via the appropriate port (USB, Thunderbolt, or Firewire)

Go to Application > Utilities > Disk Utility

Locate the drive by looking for its name on the left-hand panel of the Disk Utility and click on it

Now click on Erase tab located at the top

On the Format contextual menu, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

At this point, you can name the disk if you want; though you can always do that at any time

Next, click on Erase and a second confirmation window will pop-up, and confirm Erase

Voila, you are done with formatting the disk. You should know that SSDs and USB flash drives will typically format much faster than an external hard disk. Speaking of the external hard disk, the bigger the capacity, the longer it will take to format.

Felix Omondi

Kenyan citizen with a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. In my spare time, I like to blog and read up on trends that's happening around the world.

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