How To Format An External Drive For MAC And Windows On MAC

External drives plays a vital role to transfer massive amount of data from one computer machine to another. It becomes little complicated when it has been done between different operating systems due to it’s different file systems. The operating systems will have it’s own file systems to facilitate it’s function. Majority of the MAC users would feel little difficulty to use their external drives in MAC and Windows.

In order to format an external drive to be read in both operating systems, It should use FAT32 file system. It’s quite old and limits each file size to 4GB limit. It can’t be copied, if it exceeds the size. It prevents the larger files to be copied using this file system. But this file system will allow the external drive to be read in MAC and Windows. The exFAT file system can be used to format the external drives. But this is not as FAT32 which will be read in the older editions of Windows OS. It requires Windows Vista (SP1) and later Windows Editions. Here are the instructions to format an external drive using FAT32 file system.

Step 1:

Open “Disk Utility” from launchpad or spotlight search

Step 2:

Choose the external drive from the left pane

Step 3:

Choose “Erase” tab from the right side pane

Format External Drive - MAC

Step 4:

Choose the format to MS-DOS (FAT)

Step 5:

Click on “Erase” to format the external drive

Format External Drive - MAC


Step 6:

Confirm and Click on “Erase” in the warning window. Now, It’s done and can be used in both MAC and Windows Operating Systems to copy and transfer the files

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Format External Drive - MAC




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