Home > How to Tips

How to Format a USB Drive on Mac for Both Mac & PC?

Updated on Friday, July 12, 2024

iBoysoft author Connie Yang

Written by

Connie Yang
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

English Français Deutsch

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.

format USB drive on Mac

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, you can't write to USB drive on Mac. Besides, for a corrupted USB drive, it may be unreadable on a Mac.

So, to make your new USB drive read-write access or repair an unreadable USB, you need to wipe the drive on your Mac and then 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 a USB on a Mac using the best format to repair your corrupted USB drive on Mac or make the new USB workable.

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 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. (You can also watch this video tutorial: How to Format a USB Drive on a Mac?)

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 depends on your using purpose. Here, we'll give you some suggestions.

  • If you 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.
  • 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. Some people may also want to format USB drives to NTFS on Mac.

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 a 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.

People Also Ask

Read More Questions