How to format a drive on a Mac

There are many explanation why you need to format a disk. You could also be promoting your Mac and wish to utterly erase it so nobody can entry your date. Or possibly you might be setting up an exterior drive for backups. You might want to copy 1 thing to a drive to share it with a PC or 1 other Mac. Or you could have purchased a disk to use together with your Mac solely to find that it’s pre-formatted for Windows.

Fortunately, Disk Utility constructed into MacOS will help. And it’s also straightforward to use.

Read our roundup of 1 of the best storage gadgets obtainable proper now: 1 of the best storage choices for Mac. Also think about putting in and operating Windows on a Mac.

Before we begin, there are a few issues you need to know, together with an important determination, which format to use.

We even have a tutorial on how to use Disk Utility on a Mac right here. Other explanation why you may want to use Disk Utility embody creating a bootable macOS set up drive (coated right here) and doing a clear set up of macOS.

Which file format ought to I use?

There are a few file codecs you’ll be able to use, however, the precise 1 to your circumstances relies upon very a lot on what you’ll be utilizing the drive for. We will describe them under and you may select the 1 which fits you.

APFS (Apple file system) – This is the new file system that Apple has bought for Macs with High Sierra and it will likely be commonplace if you’re utilizing that model of macOS. There are a variety of issues which can be good about it, corresponding to being more friendly and dependable. You can select an encrypted model and a case delicate model. But it’s not readable or usable on a Mac that’s not operating High Sierra, nor can Windows or Linux machines read or write. And it presently solely works on SSDs or Flash storage. Read among the good issues about APFS right here. For now, we do not advocate formatting in APFS, as it isn’t readable by Macs that do not use High Sierra, however, you won’t care.

MacOS Extended (Journaled) (also referred to as HFS +) – APFS changed MacOS Extended because the default file system on the Mac when Apple launched High Sierra in 2017. If your Mac just isn’t up to date to High Sierra, MacOS Extended is obtainable as commonplace. There’s additionally the MacOS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) possibility, which is a good selection for those who’re doubtless to carry your laptop or exterior drive and don’t desire anybody to entry the contents of the drive for those who unintentionally lose it. You can encrypt your drive and also you want a password to entry it. There can be an possibility for MacOS Extended (case delicate, journaled, encrypted) for those who in all probability have filenames that require capital letters. Windows can read HFS + drives, however, can not write to them.

MS-DOS FAT (also referred to as FAT32) – For the good thing about FAT32, it may be read and written by Mac, Linux Windows – so it’s your decision to use this for those who usually share drives with friends or colleagues who personal PC and wish them to entry the data you could have on the experience . However, it’s an older file system and data are restricted to 4 GB or smaller, so it makes little sense for those who copy film data, for instance. FAT32 affords no safety and is more inclined to disk errors.

ExFAT – that is comparable to FAT32 above. Both Windows and Mac can read disks formatted with it. The main distinction is that it may well retailer data over 4 GB.

NTFS – This is the usual Windows file system. MacOS can solely read NTFS, it can not write to it. Although there are third celebration instruments you are able to do this with.

How to format an exterior drive for Mac

Here’s how to format a disk for those who plan to use it with a Mac.

  1. Start Disk Utility. Go to Applications> Utilities or faucet Command + Space and begin typing Disk Utility.
  2. Once Disk Utility opens, you will notice the listing of accessible drives on the left. Choose the disk you need to format. NOTE that formatting your drive will erase its contents, so make sure that to again it up first!
  3. Click the Delete possibility from the 4 choices obtainable within the main window.
  4. Disk Utility will mechanically select the format for you. This could be APFS, or it may be Mac OS Extended (Journaled), relying on how the drive is presently formatted and whether or not you might be utilizing macOS High Sierra or an older model of the working system. If you need to use 1 thing else, click on on the formatting choices to open the drop-down window. Choose the format you want relying on how you need to use the formatted disk (see above for more info on the format varieties).
  5. The subsequent step is to identify the disk. This could be something, however, choose 1 thing apparent that provides you with a trace about what’s on it.
  6. Then click on the Security Options button. This will open 1 other window the place you’ll be able to select how you need to format the drive, with a slider starting from Fastest to Most Secure. This is a vital step if you would like to be certain that all data on the disk are securely erased.
  7. Fastest erases the disk by eradicating the header info, however, leaves the underlying data intact, though they continue to be hidden. This signifies that you or another person can simply carry the data again to life utilizing files restoration software program, which isn’t essentially a good concept. Move the slider to the second possibility that claims “This option writes a single string of zeros all over the disk.” This will overwrite the whole disk as soon as.
  8. For more security, transfer to the slider to the precise. The subsequent step provides you the choice to overwrite the disk 3 times. Moving the drive all the way in which to Most Secure will overwrite the drive 7 occasions, however, you’ll have to wait a whereas (relying on the dimensions of the drive) earlier than you’ll be able to use it once more.
  9. Click Erase and wait whereas the contents are erased and the disk is being ready. A progress bar shows you how your disk is formatting and how lengthy it would take to full.
  10. Now copy your data to the newly formatted disk.

Format a disk for use with a Mac and PC

If you need to format a disk as a way to copy data between a Mac and a PC, observe the tutorial above, however, select ExFAT from the listing of format choices.

Format a disk for use with Time Machine

We have a tutorial on how to create a Time Machine disc right here, however, maybe the large query within the context of this explicit tutorial is which format to use.

Time Machine nonetheless makes use of HFS + (which is Mac OS Extended). If you could have the choice to format the disk you’ll be utilizing for Time Machine, use APFS. Time Machine is presently unable to use APFS.

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