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How To Format Usb For Mac And Pc


Dec 16, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

If you only want to format the USB flash drive on Mac, Disk Utility is the best choice. Just run this built-in application on your Mac, and use it to erase the USB flash drive. However, the data on the formatted USB flash drive could be recovered by data recovery software. NO.3 USB drive formatting software for Mac – Start Menu for Mac. How to Format Hard Drive for Mac and PC on Mac? Just like Windows, macOS also gives us a seamless option to format the hard drives for Mac (and PC). The operating system has an inbuilt tool, which is known as Disk Utility. Using it, you can erase a hard drive, create new partitions, and even repair your disk as well. Let’s see how to format USB drive for Mac and PC on Windows. Download AOMEI Partition Assistant and launch the software. In the main interface, locate the USB drive, right click it and choose Format Partition.

'How to format hard drive for Mac and PC? I want to resell my computers and would like to get rid of my data beforehand, but can't seem to format my system!'

It doesn't matter what kind of situation you are in, it is important to learn how to format HDD for Mac and Windows. You might want to resell your system, get rid of something, or simply want to make more free space on it.

While it might sound complicated, both Mac and Windows give us dedicated features to manage our disk space. You can use it to manage your storage, merge partitions, and even do a disk format for Mac and PC. In this post, we will cover dedicated solutions on how to format your hard drive in Mac and PC.

Part 1. Why should you consider formatting your hard drive?

You might already know the consequences of formatting a hard drive. It will erase all the data stored in it, making it empty in one go. Therefore, before you format Mac/PC drive, make sure that you have taken a backup of your important data. Once it is done, you can do a hard disk format for Mac and PC to enjoy the following advantages.

  • It will help you get rid of any sensitive data from your hard drive so that the other user can't access it.
  • Once the disk is formatted, it will make it empty and let you store new content on it. Therefore, you can consider formatting a partition if you are running low of space.
  • In case if the hard drive has been corrupted by a virus, then you can format it entirely to get rid of any malicious activity.
  • By formatting a partition, you can manage the storage on your PC/Mac and merge the free space with another sector as well.
  • It will automatically defragment the disk, which will let you reclaim the lost space on the storage unit.
  • You can also resolve any disk issue by formatting your hard drive.
  • After formatting a disk, you can reassign a file system to it, and make it compatible with your PC/Mac.

Part 2. Major Formats of Hard Drive for Mac and PC

Over time, more than a hundred different kinds of file systems and formats have been developed for Mac and PC hard drives. Though, here are some of the most commonly used and compatible formats.

  • exFAT: It stands for Extended File Allocation Table and is developed by Microsoft. The file system is mostly used to allocate space on external storage units like USB drives or SD cards.
  • NTFS: The New Technology File System is used by Windows NT operating systems. It is the common format for the native hard drive of the system and is equipped with tons of new-age memory allocation techniques.
  • FAT32: The File Allocation Table format is used to store data on units that have a capacity of more than 32 GB. It mostly works on external storage units like flash drives and is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
  • APFS: The Apple File System is the native technique for macOS, iOS, tvOS, and even watchOS. It provides high-end encryption and is a replacement for the age-old HFS+ system developed by Apple.

There are different other kinds of file systems that your hard drive can support. To check it, just select the partition or the external disk, right-click, and visit its 'Properties'. Go to the 'General' tab to know details about the file system of the disk.

Part 3. How to Format Hard Drive for Mac and PC on Windows?

If your Mac or PC has a Windows OS installed, then you won't face any trouble managing it. Every major version of the operating system provides a dedicated solution to format hard drive as well as external storage units. Also, you can manage the internal partitions, merge them, create new ones, and do so much more. Here's how to format hard drive on your Windows PC.

  1. First, you need to access the Disk Management tool on your Windows. To do this, just click on the Start menu and look for 'disk management'. Alternatively, you can also access it from the Control Panel.
  2. This will open a dedicated window for various disks on your system. Simply select a partition that you wish to format and right-click it. Choose the 'Format' option to proceed.
  3. As the formatting wizard will open, select the kind of file system that you wish to convert it to. For instance, it can be NTFS, exFAT, and so on.
  4. You can also allocate it to the relevant size or label it here as well. If you have less time, then you can choose to quickly format it by enabling the relevant option.
  5. In the end, you will get a confirmation prompt like this. Just click on the 'Format' or 'Yes' button and wait for a while as the disk would be formatted.

Important Note: Formatting an external device

Windows also let us format an external device like SD card, pen drive, etc. quite easily. Simply right-click its icon from My Computer and from the context menu, click on the 'Format' option. Choose a file type and formatting option and click on the 'Start' button to format the disk.

Part 4. How to Format Hard Drive for Mac and PC on Mac?

Just like Windows, macOS also gives us a seamless option to format the hard drives for Mac (and PC). The operating system has an inbuilt tool, which is known as Disk Utility. Using it, you can erase a hard drive, create new partitions, and even repair your disk as well. To learn how to format in Mac your hard drive, follow these steps:

  1. To start with, just go to Finder > Applications > Utilities to view all the available tools and features. From here, you can launch the Disk Utility application.
  2. Here, you can view all kinds of storage units available on your system (both internal and external). Simply go to the left panel and select the disk you wish to format.
  3. On the right, you can view details about the selected disk. Go to its toolbar and click on the 'Erase' option.
  4. This will display the following pop-up on the screen. You can give the partition/drive a label, select its partition scheme, and specify its file format as well.
  5. Click on the 'Erase' button in the end and confirm your choice as Mac would format the selected disk.

In no time, the entire disk would be emptied and you can manage it the way you like. You can follow the same drill to format an external device on Mac as well.

Part 5. How to Recover Formatted Hard Drive on Mac?

By following the above-listed methods, you would be able to format hard drive for Mac and PC seamlessly. Though, if you have formatted a hard drive accidentally, then you might end up losing your important files. In this case, you can take the assistance of Recoverit Data Recovery software to get back your lost or deleted content from Mac. The data recovery tool is available for free and supports all the major macOS and Windows versions. Following a simple on-screen process, you can easily extract your data from your Mac's hard drive or an external device.

Recoverit - The Best Word File Recovery Software

  • Recover Word documents from all storage devices like Mac.
  • Recover 1000+ types and formats of files in different situations.
  • Scan and preview the files before you recover them from MacBook hard drive.

If you have deleted a partition on Mac or have lost it due to any other reason, then you should use Recoverit Data Recovery. It can help you restore partition data on Mac by following these easy steps.

Step 1: Select a Location


Firstly, launch the Recoverit Data Recovery application on your Mac and from its home, pick a location. A list of all the available locations will be displayed. You can just pick a source and start the scan.

Step 2: Scan the Location

This will commence the data recovery operation on the selected location. You simply need to wait for a few minutes for the scan to finish successfully.

Step 3: Preview and Recover

Once the process is completed, you can just preview the extracted data on Recoverit's interface. Make the needed selections and click on the 'Recover' button, so that you can save your files to a safe location.

Important Note:

If you are running the latest version of macOS, then you should consider disabling its System Integrity Protection feature first. This will allow third-party apps like Recoverit to access the partitions and file system on your Mac. Restart your Mac and press the Command + R keys to boot it in the Recovery mode. Launch the Terminal app by visiting the utility menu and enter the command: csrutil disable. In the end, restart your Mac in the normal mode and launch Recoverit again.

Part 6. Tips for Formatting Hard Drive

If you want to get positive results while formatting your hard drive on Mac or PC, then consider following these steps:

  • Since formatting will erase all the existing data on your hard drive, make sure you have taken its backup beforehand.
  • When your system is formatting the drive, don't halt the process in between as it can make the storage unavailable.
  • As both Windows and Mac provide native solutions to format the hard drives, you should avoid using any unreliable third-party tool.
  • While formatting, you would be asked to pick a file system for the disk. Therefore, make sure that the file system is supported by your Mac or Windows.
  • Instead of a quick format, you should follow the standard process. This will save the empty space on your system and avoid disk fragmentation.


Now you can easily format hard drive for Mac and PC like a pro, without facing any trouble. Apart from formatting the internal drive, we have also listed a smart solution to format external devices as well. Not just that – the guide has also included a working solution to recover data from a formatted drive. If you have accidentally formatted a drive, then use Recoverit Data Recovery. An excellent recovery tool for Mac and Windows, it will make sure that you never suffer from an unwanted loss of data again.

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Summary :

When you get a new USB drive and want to format it, you may wonder: what is the best format for USB drive? Well, the best format for USB drive is different for different operating systems and devices. This article will show you how to choose the best format for USB flash drive.

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Nowadays, USB flash drive is widely used on various electronic devices due to its portability. Before you use a new USB drive, you need to first format it. Well, what is the best format for USB drive? How to choose the best format for USB drive?

Before you try to choose the best format for your USB drive, you need to know what file system it is in.

What Is File System?

What is file system?

In computing, a file system or filesystem controls how data is stored and retrieved. With a file system, the information placed in a storage medium will be separated into pieces and each piece will have a name, so the information is easily isolated and identified this way. Each group of data is called a file.

File system is the structure and logic rules used to manage groups of information.

File systems can be used on a numerous variety of storage devices and media types. There are many different types of file systems; each of them has different storage devices that they are the most suitable for.

What is the best format for USB drive? Well, it depends on how you plan to use your USB drive.

How to Choose the Best Format for USB drive

Basically, to choose the best format for USB flash drive. The two most important things you need to consider are the operating systems you plan to use it with and the sizes of the files that you are most likely to transfer and store.

How To Format Usb Drive

The following contents list some commonly used file systems. To better understand which one is the best file system for USB drive according to your needs, you can view the compatibility, pros and cons of these file systems one by one.

When you get a new USB drive, you can follow this guide to choose the best thumb drive file system for your portable drive.

NTFS vs HFS+ vs FAT32 vs exFAT vs Ext 2,3,4

1. NTFS: The New Technology File System (NTFS), a proprietary journaling file system developed by Microsoft, is the default file system of the Windows NT family.

  • Compatibility: Windows XP/7/8/10, Linux (read-only for some distributions), MacOS(read-only), Xbox One
  • Pros: journaling, no realistic file size limitations; support for file compression, high security
  • Cons: can be read-only for Mac OS, or be written by Mac with the help of third-party software

2. HFS+: The Hierarchical File System (HFS+) is the file system modern MacOS versions use by default. If you want to use your USB drive on Mac devices, you can format USB to HFS+.

  • Compatibility: MacOS, Linux(readonly), Xbox 360/One
  • Pros: journaling, encrypt or compress files or folders
  • Cons: cannot be read by the Window unless using third-party software

3. FAT32: The File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32) was the standard Windows file system before NTFS. And it is widely recognized by almost all operating systems. Most portable devices also support FAT32.

  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, Chrome OS, Android, Xbox 360/One, PS3, PS4, printers, projectors…
  • Pros: compatible with almost all versions of Windows, Mac, Linux and practically any device with a USB port
  • Cons: cannot store a single file which is larger than 4GB; cannot create a FAT32 partition that is larger than 8 TB (Windows only recognizes 2TB)

4. exFAT: The extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) is similar to FAT32, but does not have the limits of FAT32 file system. It can be used where NTFS is not a feasible solution, but a greater file-size limit than the standard FAT32 file system is required.

  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac OSX 10.6.5 and above, PlayStation 4 (with MBR, not GUID), Xbox One, Android
  • Pros: good for larger file sizes and drives, compatible with both Windows and Mac OS
  • Cons: Microsoft restricts its usage by license obligations.
Tip: To learn more information about NTFS vs FAT32 vs exFAT file system, here is the full guide: NTFS vs. FAT32 vs. exFAT – Differences and How to Format to.

5. Ext 2/3/4: The extended file system (Ext) was the first file system created specifically for Linux. If you plan to use the USB drive on Linux computers, you can format it to this file system.

  • Compatibility: Linux, Xbox 360/One
  • Pros: support for large file sizes and large drives
  • Cons: cannot be read and written by Windows unless with third-party software, Ext 2 lacks journaling.

After the comparison, have you picked your best format for USB drive?

All in all, FAT32 is actually compatible for the most types of systems. It’s practically compatible with any device with a USB port, while NTFS and exFAT are not so much. HFS+ is specially used on MacOS, and Ext 2, 3, 4 file systems are created by Linux.

FAT32 - The Best Format for USB Drive

As you can see from above, FAT32 is supported on almost all devices, which makes it the choice of file system format selected by the most people for USB drive.

As long as you don't use it to transfer a single file larger than 4 GB, FAT32 is perfect and can be the best portable file system for USB drive due to its compatibility.

So we draw the conclusion that although FAT32 has its limits, it’s the best file system to use for most portable drives like USB drive, SD card, etc. Besides, most USB drives have small capacity because they are hardly ever used as the main data storage. Therefore, they will not be used to store large files. The limit will not affect you too much.

How to Format USB Drive in Windows or Mac

After choosing the best format for USB drive according to your needs, you might start to wonder: how do I format USB drive to NTFS/FAT32/exFAT/EXT 2,3,4/HFS+ in Windows operating system or Mac? Well, don't worry. if you need to format USB drive to NTFS/FAT32/exFAT/EXT 2,3,4/HFS+ file system, please follow the steps as below.

Well then, how to format USB drive to FAT32/NTFS/exFAT/EXT 2,3,4/HFS+ if you have the need. Don't worry, the following part will show you the solution for Windows and Mac OS users.

The process for formatting a drive is different depending on the system you’re using. Let’s see how to format USB drive on a Windows PC first.

Format USB drive on Windows Operating System

To format USB drive in Windows operating system, it is recommended to use the free USB formatter MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.

MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition is a free partition manager & USB formatter. It can help you resize partition, extend partition, format partition, convert FAT32 to NTFS, check file system, copy partition, migrate OS to HD/SSD and so on. As a free partition manager, it is equipped with many advanced features that cannot be found in Disk Management.

With its user-friendly interface, this free partition manager is worth trying.

First, you need to connect the USB drive to your Windows PC. Then you can follow the steps as below to format USB drive for Mac and Windows on a Windows PC.

Step 1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition by clicking the following button. Install and launch it to get its main interface.

Step 2. Right-click the drive you want to format and select Format Partition from the left action panel.

Step 3. At this page, specify the partition label, file system as well as cluster size. The cluster size is set by default.

Tip: As you can see from the pop-up window, you can format the drive’s file system to FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4 with MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition, which is very convenient. Here I choose to format the USB to FAT32, the best format for USB drives.

Step 4. After resetting these parameters, you can click OK.

Step 5. Click Apply button on the upper left corner to allow the pending operations.

If you need to format USB drive to FAT32/NTFS/exFAT/Ext2/Ext3/Ext4, MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition can be your best USB formatter. You can also change your USB format with this tool at ease. Try it now!

Note: If you don't want to resort to third-party USB formatter, you can also use Windows built-in partition manager Disk Management to format USB drive. However, the limit is that you can only format USB drive to NTFS/FAT/exFAT file system.

Format USB Drive in Mac

If you want to use the USB drive on your Mac computer only, formatting it to be entirely Mac compatible file system is highly recommended, such as HFS+ file system. If you want to use the drive between a Windows and Mac machine, you can format it to FAT32.

You can follow the steps as below to format USB drive to HFS+ or FAT32 in Mac. Here I will format the drive to FAT32 for demonstration.

Step 1. Connect the USB flash drive to your Mac computer.

Step 2. Go to Applications and then click Utilities.

Step 3, Double click Disk Utility to open it.

Step 4. Select your USB flash drive on the sidebar, choose Erase.

Step 5. Name the USB drive, choose the MS-DOS (FAT) for Format, Master Boot Record for Scheme. Then click Erase.

Tip: OS X Extended (Journaled) is the default file system set by Mac OS, but it’s only natively supported on Macs. It’s also known as HFS+.

Divvy 1 5 24. Step 6. When it is finished, your USB drive will be formatted to FAT32 as the file system.

Wrapping Things Up

If you don't know how to choose the best format for USB drive, this article could be a big help. If you don't know how to format USB drive to the best file system, this article can also resolve this issue for you.

If you have a different opinion about the best format for USB drive, please don't hesitate to share it with us. If you need any help formatting USB drive in Windows, you may leave it in the following comment zone. And we will reply you as soon as possible. You may also contact us via [email protected] if you need help.