Mac Tutorials

How to Format External Hard Drive on Mac

Curious to learn how to format external hard drive for Mac? Follow these steps:

  1. On your Mac, search and open Disk Utility
  2. Locate and choose the external drive you want to format from the left panel
  3. Initiate the erasing process by clicking the Erase option
  4. Opt for either the FAT32 or exFAT format
  5. Click Erase again and proceed as instructed.

Are you grappling with the chaos of a cluttered external hard drive on your Mac? The struggle to find files, sluggish performance, or the ever-present fear of losing important data becomes overwhelming. These concerns are faced by many Mac users, and the solution may lie in simply reformatting your external hard drive. In this article, we'll delve into the reasons behind this common issue and guide you toward a clean and organized storage solution.

 

Before we start:

 

Ready to address the never-ending search for files or the fear of losing important data? To alleviate these concerns, we recommend starting with MacKeeper's Safe Cleanup.

 

This handy solution not only helps reclaim valuable storage space but also restores order to your Mac. It's the perfect way to ensure your essential files are organised ahead of reformatting your external hard drive.

 

To use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup on a Mac device:

  1. Download MacKeeper on your MacBook
  2. Launch the app, choose Safe Cleanup from the sidebar, and click Start Scan
  3. After the scan is complete, review the results and select the Logs, Cache, Trash, Languages, or Mail Attachments that you want to delete
  4. Then click Clean Junk Files to confirm and let MacKeeper tidy up your Mac.

Which is the best format for an external hard drive on Mac

For Mac users seeking peak performance, the format of your external hard drive is pivotal. When it comes to the best options, you'll want to consider the efficiency of APFS, also known as Apple File System or even Mac OS Extended. APFS is particularly well-suited for macOS Mojave, macOS Sierra, and newer versions, but you probably are interested in how it works.

 

Hint from our experts: Given that formatting can cause data to be lost, it's essential that you back up any important files in advance to avoid the frustration of losing precious data. Even if you want to erase an external hard drive on Mac, we advise on creating backups of files first.

 

If you're interested in data safety and efficient backup strategies, then our in-depth guide on how to clone Mac hard drive to external drive offers detailed step-by-step instructions that you may want to familiarize yourself with.

Ways to reset external hard drive on Mac

The most commonly used method to reset an external hard drive on a Mac device is

through Disk Utility:

  1. Connect a compatible external hard drive to your Mac
  2. Open Spotlight Search, type Disk Utility, and select the first option
  3. Click View in the top-left corner of the window and choose Show All Devices
  4. Select the external hard drive you want to wipe or reset
  5. Finally, from the top menu, click Erase.

There are various options when it comes to formatting an external hard drive on your Mac, each offering unique advantages for different situations.

Besides, to avoid the external hard drive not showing up on Mac error, our team suggests you check out our comprehensive guide with troubleshooting steps to help you combat any compatibility issues.

1. How to reformat external hard drive with Disk Utility on Mac

To reformat an external hard drive on Mac using Disk Utility:

  1. Open Disk Utility using Spotlight Search or going to Finder > Applications > Utilities
  2. Select the external hard drive you want to format from the list
  3. Go to the toolbar and click Erase
  4. Now choose either FAT32 or exFAT Format from the drop-down menu
  5. To confirm, click Erase again and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the formatting of your external hard drive.
In order to reformat an external hard drive on Mac with Disk Utility, you'lll need to begin by opening Disk Utility on your Mac. You can find it in your Applications folder or use Spotlight Search.
Step 1. Open Disk Utility through Finder > Applications > Utilities or Spotlight search
In Disk Utility, locate and select the external hard drive you wish to format from the list on the left-hand side of the window.
Step 2. Select an external HD you want to format
Once you've chosen your drive, click the Erase button in the toolbar at the top to reformat your external hd.
Step 3. Click Erase

2. How to format an external hard drive using Terminal on Mac

Alternatively, to reformat external hard drive on Mac using Terminal, follow these steps:

  1. Open Terminal on your Mac
  2. Use diskutil list to identify your external drive
  3. Format it with the command diskutil eraseDisk format name /dev/identifier, replacing format, name and identifier with your external hard drive preferences
  4. Review and execute the command to initiate formatting.
To format an external hard drive on your Mac computer or MacBook using Terminal,  you will need to begin with launching Terminal.
Step 1. Open Terminal on your Mac
Utilize the diskutil list command in Terminal to identify your external hard drive efficiently. This step is pivotal in the process of formatting, erasing, or resetting your Mac external drive.
Step 2. Use diskutil list to identify your external drive
In Terminal, apply the diskutil eraseDisk format name /dev/identifier command to effectively format your external drive. You have the flexibility to select the format, designate a name, and specify the identifier, ensuring a tailored process for a compatible external hd your Mac.
Step 3. Type the command diskutil eraseDisk format name /dev/identifier

Why you should always backup before formatting an external hard drive on Mac

We should clarify that formatting an external hard drive often means the process will erase all its contents. To safeguard your valuable files, always save backups of the hard drive onto another device before proceeding. Additionally, ensure your external drive is always properly connected to your MacBook to avoid the risk of potential data loss.

 

If you need further support, we encourage you to explore our blog post on how to back up your Mac. Here you’ll find valuable insights to help you transfer and secure your data before formatting an external hard drive on a Mac computer.

Mastering external hard drive formatting on Mac

In the realm of Mac maintenance, mastering the skill of formatting an external hard drive is crucial. Below, we’ve compiled our top tips worth remembering when it's time to format your external hard drive:

  • Always protect your vital files from data loss during formatting by creating back-ups
  • Opt for a file system format that suits your needs, like APFS for modern Macs or exFAT for cross-platform compatibility
  • Check if your external hard drive is correctly connected to your Mac to prevent interruptions during formatting.

As you embark on the journey to reformat an external hard drive on Mac, keep in mind our trusted ally—MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup. It organizes files, enhances your Mac's performance and reclaims space. For additional support on how to clear storage on Mac, read through the attached guide, filled with additional formatting tips. Good luck formatting your external hard drives!

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