How to Format a Drive on Your Mac

Inside of internal Harddrive HDD

Are you planning to sell your Mac and you need to delete the files? Is your Mac’s hard drive defective? Are you planning to convert your hard drive into an external storage unit? Or is your newly bought hard drive pre-formatted for Windows? Whatever the reason, the process on how to format a drive on Mac is one of the easiest solutions you can learn.

It is easy to format your hard drive on Mac using the built-in Disk Utility. However, in cases where you have files and documents still on the drive, re-formatting needs to be your last resort. Try cleaning up your hard drive first by using 3rd party cleaning tools. This will temporarily delete files, unwanted documents, and unnecessary cache files within your unit. And if you really decide to format or re-format the drive, make sure to back up everything first. Formatting a drive is one of the permanent Mac solutions that can totally erase all of your device’s content.

Steps To Format A Drive On Mac

Before you start the process, you need to be aware of the different kinds of Mac file systems and format types. Browse through the information below:

  • APFS (Apple File System) – This file system is the default format for Macs running on High Sierra. It is new, faster, more efficient, and more reliable. However, you won’t be able to read or write on this drive unless you’re also running High Sierra. Plus, it only works on SSDs and flash storage.
  • MacOS Extended (Journaled) or HFS+ – If your Mac is not running High Sierra, the default file system will be MacOS Extended. Windows can also read HFS+ drives but cannot write to the drive.
  • MS-DOS FAT or FAT32 – If you regularly share drives between PC and Mac, then this format is perfect for you. Some of the drawbacks of this file system are the 4GB file limit, it has no security, and it is prone to disk errors.
  • ExFAT – both Windows and Mac can read this file system and it can store files more than 4GB.
  • NTFS – This file format is for Windows but Macs can only read but not write on it.

To format your drive, follow these steps:

  • Open Finder and click Applications.
  • Choose Utilities and then open Disk Utility. You can also use Spotlight to open Disk Utility. All you need to do is press Command + Space and type in Disk Utility.
  • The Disk Utility window will show you a list of all the drives on your Mac.
  • Choose which drive you want to erase.
  • Click Erase.
  • A window will pop up asking for the new drive name, format and scheme. Type in your new drive name.
  • Disk Utility automatically chooses the file format for your new drive but you can choose which format to use by clicking the Formatting options.
  • Once you’ve chosen the format, select GUID Partition Map for Scheme.
  • Click the Security Options button to choose how you want the drive to be formatted. The slider goes from Fastest to Most Secure. Fastest means that the header information will be removed but the underlying files will be intact and hidden. This will overwrite the drive once. By sliding to the right, your next option is to overwrite the drive three times. The farthest option to the right is the Most Secure option, which will overwrite the drive seven times. The amount of time needed to format the drive depends on what option you choose, the most secure being the slowest.
  • Click Erase again. A progress bar will appear showing how the formatting is going and an estimate of how long it will take to complete and the last step would be to copy your files back to your new drive.

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