How to format a USB drive on Mac for both Mac and PC?

By Connie | Posted to Home > Howto, on September 26th, 2021

Summary: This post tells how to format a USB drive on Mac to enable it read-write support on both Windows and Mac. Also, it helps recover lost data from formatted USB drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

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Windows takes up the most market share when compared to macOS. That causes the storage devices you purchase, like USB drives, mainly designed for Windows by default. Therefore, when you connect the USB drive to your Mac, it is read-only. Besides, for a corrupted USB drive, it may be unreadable on Mac.

So, to make your new USB drive read-write access or repair an unreadable USB on Mac, you need to format it with a macOS compatible file system (a process used on storage devices for storing data).

This post will show you how to format USB on Mac using the best format to repair your corrupted USB drive on Mac or make the new USB workable.

What you'll get from this post:

Format USB drive on Mac

How to format a USB on Mac?

Formatting a USB drive means that it will erase all data stored on the drive and set a file system for later data storage. Therefore, it is necessary to use Time Machine to back up all data on your USB drive. Or else you'll lose your data.

If your USB drive is corrupted and unreadable, the only way to rescue data on it is to use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. This professional data recovery tool helps recover data from the corrupted, unmounted, unreadable, inaccessible USB and other storage devices.

After backing up or retrieving your data to another destination, you can get down to format the USB stick on your iMac, MacBook, or Mac mini.

Here's how to format a USB drive on Mac:

  • Plug your USB drive into your Mac USB port. Your macOS will recognize it and show it up on the desktop.
  • USB drive show up on Mac
  • Open Launchpad > Other > Disk Utility.
  • Select the USB drive at the left sidebar of your Disk Utility window.
  • Click Erase at the top.
  • Set a name for your USB.
  • Type a name for the USB drive
  • Choose a format from the drop-down menu and select GUID Partition Map as a scheme.
  • Select a format for the USB drive

Note: Which is the best format for your USB drive? Refer to the following part.

  • Click Erase.
  • Wait until the erasing process is done. During this process, don't do other operations on the USB drive. Otherwise, it may be corrupted.
  • Once it completes, click Done. Then, quit Disk Utility.

The USB drive format process is done

What is the best format for a USB drive on Mac?

There are types of file system formats available for your USB drive. But which one is the best relies on your using purpose. Here, we'll give you some suggestions.

  1. If you'll use this USB drive between Macs, you can choose APFS or Mac OS Extended (HFS+). Note that APFS is only for macOS 10.13 High Sierra or later, while HFS+ is supported by Mac OS 8.1 or later. And APFS is better for SSDs and Flash drives but HFS+ is better for HDDs.
  2. If you prepare to use the USB drive between Mac and PC, both FAT32 and exFAT are okay but exFAT is better. Because exFAT has no limitations in file and partition size.

In a word, for Windows and Mac cross-platform compatibility, exFAT is the best format for the USB drive.

Recover lost data from formatted USB

Unfortunately, if your USB drive is not mounting on Mac or you forget to back up your thumb drive. How can you get the data off the USB drive?

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is here to give you a hand. This Mac Data Recovery software uses advanced and secure data recovery algorithms to help you find lost files from your formatted or corrupted USB drive.

Here's how:

  • Connect your formatted or corrupted USB drive to your Mac.
  • Free download iBoyosft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac and restart your computer.
  • Select the formatted USB drive and click Scan.
  • Preview the searched results and choose your desired data.
  • Click Recover to save your data to another destination.

How to format USB to FAT32?

FAT32 is commonly used for Windows and Mac. Formatting your USB drive to FAT32 enables you to transfer files between the two machines freely.

However, FAT32 has limitations that may bring you into trouble. It can only store a file of less than 4GB. And a FAT32 partition cannot be more than 8TB. Conversely, exFAT doesn't have these defects. If you prepare to store large files like videos on the USB drive, exFAT is better.

Format USB to FAT32 or exFAT:

  • Insert your USB stick into your Mac.
  • Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities and open Disk Utility.
  • Select the USB drive at the left sidebar in Disk Utility.
  • Click Erase on the top toolbar.
  • Enter a name for the drive. Then, select MS-DOS (FAT) or exFAT as the format and GUID Partition Map as the scheme.
  • Format the USB drive to FAT32
  • Click Erase and wait for the process done.
  • Click Done and quit Disk Utility.

Now, you get a USB drive formatted to FAT32 or exFAT.

FAQs:

1. How do you format a USB for Mac and Windows on Mac?

  • Plug your USB drive into your Mac.
  • Open Disk Utility from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
  • Select the USB drive at the left sidebar in Disk Utility.
  • Click Erase.
  • Set a name for the drive, choose exFAT from the Format menu, and GUID Partition Map as the scheme.
  • Click Erase > Done when the process completes.

2. How to format USB to NTFS on Mac?

NTFS is not available in format options in Mac Disk Utility. To format USB to NTFS on Mac, you need to use iBoysoft NTFS for Mac. This software will enable NTFS to be available in Disk Utility. Then, you can format the USB drive to NTFS on Mac easily.

3. How to format USB for Windows?

You should choose MS-DOS (FAT) or exFAT as the format. That's because the two file systems are supported both by Windows and Mac.

To a format USB for Windows, firstly, insert your USB flash drive into your Mac. Then, open Disk Utility and select the USB drive from the left sidebar. Next, click Erase and type a name, choose MS-DOS (FAT) or exFAT in Format. Finally, click Erase > Done.