Format USB to FAT32: Guide to Change Your USB File System

Formatting USB drive from NTFS to FAT32 is not a hard thing to do. Click this link to learn how you can do the same without any additional technical help!

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Sep 21, 2022 • Filed to: USB Recovery • Proven solutions

Nowadays. USB drives are something of daily use for a modern-day person. Sometimes, you may need to format your USB Drive to suit the compatibility of different devices, or they are at risk of corruption or malfunctioning and thus might require to be formatted. The USB flash drive can be formatted in a variety of ways like depending upon the operating system and other features. One important formation is the FAT32 format.

Sometimes, certain devices may only read specific USB file systems. So learning how to format your USB to FAT32 system is something that will come in handy.

So, what is FAT32 format? FAT32 is an improved version of the FAT system which was introduced in 1996 by Microsoft with its Window95 OSR2 system. The purpose of its development was to be a better version of the FAT16 in terms of speed, performance, robustness, flexibility, and to support larger volumes.

Part 1: Things to Keep in Mind Before Formatting USB Drive?

A USB drive may contain songs, videos, documents, important files, etc., depending on the person who uses it. So most people don’t prefer formatting unless they want to get rid of those files. Formatting can also be done on faulty USB drives in which case, the user should move or back up all the data in it before deletion. Before doing the process of formatting you should create a backup of all the files and data of your drive. This can be done by any backup methods of your choice. Simply you can connect it to a computer and copy all the files to it and then do formatting drive.

If a device is not being detected or faulty, formatting is the last step. The user should try all the options to make it visible whether it is a Windows or Mac. Even then if it doesn’t work trying to repair and recover the files is the next option.

Part 2: How to Format USB to FAT32 on Windows 10?

In some cases, the USB flash drives need to be formatted to FAT32 as it is one of the most preferred and compatible file systems for both mac and windows. But, while trying to format a flash drive in the usual manner, problems may arise or the FAT32 option might not be available. In such cases, we can resort to alternative as well as simple methods to achieve the goal.

Let us have a look at how a USB flash drive can be formatted to FAT32 via file explorer as well as via disk management.

Method 1: Format USB to FAT32 via File Explorer

A common and easy way to format a USB drive to FAT32 is to make use of the File Explorer.

Step 1: Connect the USB drive or the desired external hard drive to the Windows 10 computer

Step 2: Launch the File Explorer and from it find the USB drive. Right-click on the drive and select Format

Step 3: Select the FAT32 type as the target file system and select the box beside Quick Format. Tap on Start to start the formatting process.

When you are notified about the completion of the process tap OK. Your USB is now is FAT32.

format usb to fat32 1

Method 2: Format USB to FAT32 via Disk Management

Disk management is a built-in utility of Windows which is made to help users with the disk partition related problems or works. It is also one of the most preferred choices when it comes to formatting USB to FAT32.

Step 1: Right-click on My Computer and select the Manage option

Step 2: Under Storage tap the Disk Management option

Step 3: from the volume list select the thumb drive

Step 4: Right-click on it and then tap Format

Step 5: Select FAT32 format from the file system: list box

Step 6: tap OK

format usb to fat32 2

Part 3: Format USB to FAT32 on Mac - macOS 10.15 Catalina

Formatting a USB flash drive to FAT32 on Mac is easy as windows. To do so you can either use the disk utility or the terminal command line.

Method 1: Use Disk Utility

Follow the steps to format FAT32 with Disk Utility:

Step 1: Plug the USB drive that needs to be formatted to the Mac computer.

Step 2: Navigate to Applications and then to Utilities. Tap it twice to open.

Step 3: Choose the drive that needs to be formatted and tap on Erase.

Step 4: You can rename the USB drive if needed. Choose the MS-DOS(FAT) to format.

Step 5: Select the Master Boot Record for the scheme and then tap Erase.

Step 6: When the process is complete the USB drive is converted to the FAT32 file system.

Method 2: Use Terminal Command Line

The command line also works in the same way as the disk utility to format the USB drive.

Follow the steps to format FAT32 with the Terminal command line:

Step 1: Plug the USB flash drive that needs to be formatted to a Mac computer.

Step 2: To run Spotlight press cmd + space and type: terminal and press Enter

Step 3: Type diskutil list and then find the drive that is acting as your USB

Step 4: Type sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 MBRFormat /dev/disk2

The process may take some time to complete. Wait patiently. On completion type diskutil list in command box if you want to check whether the formatting had been successful

Read More:
Format USB Drive to FAT32 on Linux
Convert exFAT to FAT32 on Windows and Mac

Part 4: How to Recover Lost Data after Formatting a USB Drive to FAT32?

The formatting USB drive is an easy task. But before formatting, some might be worried about the files or data in the USB drive. There may be irrelevant as well as very important files that can’t be replaced in a USB drive. But what to do if the drive is a corrupt one or malfunctioning in some ways?

You need not worry as there are varieties of applications available in the market for recovering such files. An application like Recoverit helps you to recover almost all data, ranging from documents to big size videos from a USB drive even after formatting to FAT32.

deleted data recovery

Recoverit Data Recovery - The Best File Recovery Software

  • You can recover all of your data from USB Drive empty due to various reasons like Malware attack, corruption, accidental deletes, damage, etc.
  • You can recover data from all kinds of storage drives like USB Drive, SD card, SSDs, HDDs, Floppy Disks, Pen Drive, etc.
  • You can preview files before recovering.
  • You can even Pause and Resume the scanning process.

Step 1: Select the external device/drive

To recover deleted or lost files from an external device, it needs to be selected as the target location for data searching and scanning

external device recovery

Step 2: Scan the removable media

A complete scanning will be initiated once you select Start. The scanning usually takes some time depending on the size of the USB drive In between the process, the desired files can be located and filtered.

mac scanning external media

Step 3: Preview of files and recovery

After the whole scanning process, Recoverit allows the user to preview the located files. All the files including photos, videos, documents, videos, audios, etc. can be previewed.

Then, select the files that you need to recover and tap the Recover bar.

mac audio files recovery

All the files will be recovered and saved for your use.


In this article, you have learned the definition of FAT32, and how to format USB to FAT32 on Windows and Mac. These methods are very easy to understand and operate, and can help to solve your problem. We also provide you the way of recovering formatted USB by using Wondershare Recoverit to recover the lost data.

The loss of files from a USB drive or the drive itself malfunctioning is a common issue in today’s world. The loss of important files and data can have a huge impact on our domestic life as well as work. But, applications like Recoverit helps us to tackle these issues and move forward.

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