How to Format External Hard Drive on Mac?

The formating external hard drive is essential for saving data in an external hard drive. Because there are several filesystem formats such as exFat, Fat32, NTFS, HFS+, and APFS. So, for storing data in an external hard drive, you should make it compatible with your computer’s filesystem. Well, Windows users may not need to format the external hard drive but, mac users should format the hard disk to make it compatible with mac.

There are several reasons to store data in an external hard drive. However, external hard drives are used as professional means to give a protected backup to essential data. Because data play an important role in finance and other services business companies.

Well, you can use the external hard drive for domestic and private uses. Because you prevent loss of data and protect the data from misuses of known and unknown users. However, your friends and people near you could access your computer and data inside the computer. But they might not have access to your external hard drive.

So, for storing data you have to make the external hard drive compatible with your computer. Especially, if you are a mac user you should make filesystem format compatible with your computer. So, in this article, we are going to describe different filesystem and their uses. As well, we are going to show you, How to Format External Hard Drive on Mac?

What is a Mac Compatible file system?

There are various filesystems. Every filesystem is compatible with an operating system. So, here we are going to describe all about different types of filesystem and the compatibility with the operating system. Because you should know about filesystem before formatting external hard disk drive on mac. Otherwise, you may face problems. Moreover, you may lose your important data.


It is the enhanced version of the classic and original FAT filesystem. So, FAT stands for File Allocate Table. However, the reason behind its name is that it holds track of all your file in the storage device and helps the computer to place the file from the storage area. Even in the case of disk defragment, the files are kept on track for allocation.

FAT32 helps the computer to allocate data from smaller clusters of the hard drive. Hence, it increases the efficiency of the Hard disk. You should know that FAT32 supports up to 2 terabytes. So, if your data is more than the limit is not FAT32 is not recommend for you. Bear in mind, if you are using PC and Mac you can use and format data up to 4GB or less in FAT32 file format. So, if you are using only mac them check out the rest.


It stands for Extensible File Allocate Table. Ex-FAT is compatible with Mac and Windows. So, Ex-FAT does not allow limitations like FAT32. Thus, it can store data more than 4GBs. Moreover, Mac operating systems offer both the read and write support for Ex-FAT. That’s why users prefer Ex-FAT over FAT32. So, Ex-FAT is usually used for external storage devices that are plugged into both Mac and Windows.


New technology file system the full form of NTFS. So, it is the advanced filesystem that Microsoft uses for the new operating systems to store and retrieve data while engaged with the hard drive. However, NTFS is mostly used for non-removable storage drives. As it is the default file system of the MS. Windows So that by default mac users are allowed only to read data from the NTFS file system.

HFS+ (MacOS Extended)

It is the macOS Extended mostly called the HFS(Hierarchical File System) plus or HFS+. This file system is being used since January 19, 1998, for Mac operating systems and all drives. It is the enhanced version of HFS as it can in place more data as compare to HFS.

But, Apple updated the file system with the release of the macOS Sierra. Hence, HFS+ is replaced by AFPS. Bear in mind, you can encrypt your data using macOS Extended(Journaled, Encrypted). or if you use macOS Extended (Journaled, Case Sensitive) then on Windows you have only the read option, So there will be no write option for you.

APFS (Apple File System)


MacOS Siera brings this File System. So, if you are using older versions Macintosh operating system then you have to work with HFS+. Although, APFS is reliable and more efficient. So, it is enhanced for SDD (solid-state disk) drive and USB Flash drives.

Well, Windows and Linux can not read the APFS drive by default. So, if you are using only mac APFS, I recommend you to use AFPS. In case, you are using both Windows or Mac or Linux then the good choice for you is Ex-FAT.

Note: Before formatting your external hard drive, make sure you have no data inside the hard drive In case, you make data inside the external hard drive disk create a backup of your data. Because data is important in case you lose data, you may face problems. Remember you can use the time machine application on mac to create a backup of your data.

How to Format External Hard Drive on Mac?

We are on the main point of today’s article. So, here I am going to share with you How to Format External Hard Drive on Mac in very easy steps. So, after creating a backup of your data connect the external hard drive with your Mac Computer.

Step 1: Go to the “Spotlight” and search “Disk Utility” and click on it.

How to Format External Hard Drive on Mac
Disk Utility

Step 2: Here you should select your external hard drive from the “External” list.

How to Format External Hard Drive on Mac
External Hard Drive

Step 3: After selecting the drive, select the type of your drive filesystem from “Format”. Then select “GUID Partition Map” from the scheme for the time machine application or backup purposes and then click on “Erase”.

Erase and Format
Erase and Format

Step 4: After the process completes. Click on “Done”. Now your external Hard drive is ready to use.


Manage the External Drive for the Time Machine Application of Mac

Note: If you want to use your external hard drive for backup then follow the below 2 steps or if you don’t want to use the drive for backup then the below steps are not recommended for you.

Step 1: Select the disk you formatted and click on “Partition”. Then click on “+” to create a partition give a name and click on the “Apply” button.

Step 2: Wait for the process to complete. After that click on “Done”. Now your drive is ready for backup.

Name you External Hard Drive
Name you External Hard Drive

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This article owns all the descriptions of the filesystems and the method, how to format External Hard Drive on Mac. So, read about the different filesystems before formating your external hard disk and follow the steps to format and prepare for backup purposes. So, again I am going to remind you that be careful with your data. Create a backup of your content before formatting the hard drive. So, I hope this article will help you.


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