How to Format a USB Flash Drive on Mac

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Aug 13,2019 • Filed to: USB Recovery • Proven solutions

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USB flash drives are very useful devices that help in storing data and adding mobility to them. You can load your files on your USB drive or use it to store backups for restoring. You can even load songs and movies on it and share it with your friends or family. But at times we find it necessary to erase or format USB Mac. If you own a Mac and are thinking to delete your USB drive so that it works perfectly, you would want to do it the easy way. For instance, if your USB device has got corrupted, it might not be as easy to get your USB drive formatted.

So, how can USB format on Mac help? How would it help you to get more data when you need and help you keep your USB as good as ever? Here are some of the ways how a USB format can help you format your USB drive.

Part 1: How to Format a USB Flash Drive on Mac

  • Connect the USB drive
  • Switch on your Mac and connect the USB drive using one of the USB ports. Ensure that the USB is properly connected.

    Connect to format USB on Mac

  • Choose Utilities
  • Now launch the application program and click on the Utilities option on the right side window.

  • Launch Disk Utility
  • From the many tabs, select the Disk Utility. This will open the Disk Utility interface.

  • Choose your USB drive
  • On the left side, you will find a menu with your USB drive displayed in the list. Click on your USB drive name and select it.

  • Initiate Erase
  • Now choose the Erase tab on top of the right side Disk Utility window.

  • Set Format option
  • Now click on the drop down menu beside Format to choose the formatting options. You can select any format you wish to. But to make your USB drive fully compatible with Mac, you need to format it in Mac OS Extended (Journaled) option.

  • Select a Name for USB drive
  • You can set a name for your USB drive before the format begins. Click on the field beside Name and input any name you want.

  • Begin formatting
  • After everything is set, now is the time to begin the formatting. To activate it just click on the Erase tab at the lower right part of the interface.

  • Reconfirm and format
  • The program will display another confirmation message before the format starts. Select the Erase option one more time to begin formatting the USB drive. After this your flash drive can be used with Mac or other computers.

    format-with-disk-utility

    Part 2: Which Format to Choose When Formatting?

    This is one of the most overlooked parts of the whole process. Many users do not know the importance of the file system when it comes to storage devices. Everything would be simple if every operating system in the world accepted all file systems. Then you would be able to just use any file system and call it a day. However, that is not the case.

    A file system is like a set of rules that determine how data must be written to the storage device. There are mainly 5 types of file systems available that are in common use.

    FAT32: A file system that has been in business from the early 1980s. They were once the goto file system for formatting windows based devices.

    NTFS: NTFS or New Technology File System is the current standard in windows machines. It is the recommended file format for Windows computers, however, they are not suited for Mac OS.

    ExFAT: A modified version of FAT32 which is capable support higher data transfer bandwidths. They are readable by both Windows and Mac devices.

    HFS+: Introduced in 1998 for Mac systems. It was the most common Mac file format until 2017. HFS+ is not readable by Windows machines.

    APFS: This is the latest file format systems used by apple devices. When compared with HFS+, APFS is made for solid-state storage devices. APFS is only readable by Mac devices.

    Now, when you are formatting a USB drive on Mac, you have an important decision to make. Whether the USB should be readable by windows machines and Mac machines or just by Mac and not readable in windows.

    If you want the USB device to be readable by the both Mac and Windows devices, then you have three options – NTFS, FAT or ExFAT. The NTFS files can be read by the MacOS, but you cannot write anything to the storage device. With ExFAT, you can write and read on both MAC and Windows PCs and is our recommended option for an ultra-portable USB device.

    If you want the storage device to only show up on Mac systems, then format your storage device with APFS.

    Part 3: How to Format a USB Drive to FAT32 on Mac

    i. Disk Utility

    Step 1 Connect your USB flash drive to the Mac computer. Go to the Disk Utility and open it.

    Step 2 Select the USB drive and click on Erase option.

    Step 3 You can type the dormatted disk name and choose MS-DOS (FAT32) or ExFAT on the format menu.

    Step 4 Click Erase and the operation might take some time depends on the USB drive size.

    Now we are ready to use the USB Flash Drive on Windows and Mac

    ii. Terminal Command Line

    Terminal command line in Mac can be used to format USB devices. This method can be used when you are unable to format the USB device through Disk Utility. As always, having a backup option will save you when plan A fails for some reason.

    Let us go through the exact steps in formatting your USB drive to FAT32 on Mac using the command line. Make sure that you enter the commands in the right syntax. Follow the guide given below for more info.

    Step 1 Connect the USB device to the Mac. Ensure that the device has been read by the computer.

    Step 2 Press Command and Spacebar simultaneously. Type in "Terminal" and press enter.

    Step 3 Type in the command diskutil list and this will display all the connected storage devices to your Mac.

    Step 4 Now type in sudo diskutil eraseDisk FAT32 MBRFormat /dev/disk2 and your USB device will be formatted to the FAT32 file system.

    The command eraseDisk is used to completely delete the data in your USB device. It is an essential step before formatting and cannot be avoided. The FAT32 file format can be replaced by other supported file formats. After the format process is over, you will see that that file format has now been changed to the FAT32.

    Part 4: Best USB Drive Data Recovery Software

    We are often asked how to recover files from USB devices because many users realize that they had important files on the USB drive only after formatting it. And this is just one reason among many why people lose data on USB drives. Data loss can happen to anyone at any time because our devices aren't perfect and this is the same case with us too!

    Device failures and human errors make up a large part of the reason why we lose data from our devices. In such cases, the only thing you can do is use a powerful enough data recovery software. This brings us to Recoverit USB Data Recovery - the best option that you can choose to get back your files in no time.

    Video: How to Unformat USB on Mac and Recover Data Back

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    Steps on how to unformat flash drive on mac

    Step 1: Download the latest version of Recoverit Data Recovery

    With constant updates and upgrades coming to Recoverit, make sure you get the latest version out there. You can download the software from the official website.

    Step 2: Launch Recoverit and Choose a Drive

    Launch the software on your Mac and you will be greeted with a window that lists out all the storage devices connected to the Mac. From the listed options, choose the USB drive from which you want to recover the files.

    mac-data-recovery

    Step 3: Preview and Restore files

    The software will scan the whole drive and you can restore the files that have been found by the software to your device. Recovering files from a device has never been this easier. With Recoverit Data Recovery, you can say goodbye to the worries that comes with losing a file.

    mac-photo-recovery

    Bottom Line:

    USB format on Mac can sometimes go wrong or you may accidentally delete some data. Many times we do not mean to erase something but do it mistakenly. Then we wreck our brains looking for ways to get back the lost data due to USB format on Mac. Fortunately help is on the way as there are some programs that enable you to recover deleted data from USB drives.

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