How to Format a Hard Drive 18.0.0 For Mac & Windows 10/XP 2022

How to Format a Hard Drive 18.0.0 For Mac & Windows 10/XP 2022

How to Format a Hard Drive 18.0.0 For Both Windows and Macc 2022

How to Format a Hard Drive For Mac 18.0.0 ? One hurdle you’ll face is that, by default, these platforms use different filesystems. Windows uses NTFS and Mac OS uses HFS and they’re incompatible with each other. However, you can format the drive to work with both Windows and Mac by using the exFAT filesystem. Here’s how.

In this guide we’re using exFAT instead of FAT32, another filesystem that both Windows and Mac can read and write to, because FAT32 has a maximum 4GB file size limit whereas exFAT can work with files as large as 16EB (exabytes). exFAT also performs better than FAT32.

You can format the drive from either the Mac or the Windows machine. However, if you want to use part of the drive for OS X’s Time Machine backups, you should do this from the Mac, since there’s an extra step to make the drive compatible for Time Machine.

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How to Format a Hard Drive in Mac OS X

Mac-formatted external hard drives are often priced higher than their Windows counterparts and are not as widely available. You can repurpose any hard drive to work with your Mac. Macs running OS 10.5 and higher — Leopard to Yosemite — include the Disk Utility program that allows users to check and repair disks and drives and to format or erase drives.

Connecting External Hard Drives

External hard drives can be any size, ranging from portable USB thumb drives to large drives connected using USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt cables. Older Macs provide USB and FireWire connections, and newer Macs include USB and Thunderbolt ports. FireWire, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connections provide faster data transfers than USB 1 or 2. If you’re unsure of which model you have, choose an external drive with a USB 3.0 cable, as this type of connection is compatible with older USB ports.

Use Disk Utility to Format an External Drive

After you connect an external drive to your Mac, open the Applications folder from the Finder window. The Disk Utility application is located in the Utilities sub-folder. Launch Disk Utility and then click to select the external hard drive listed on the left. Click the “Erase” tab, choose a volume format from the drop-down menu and then type a name for the drive. The Mac OS X Extended volume format is optimal for Macs; the Journaled option enables the system to log and keep track of files. The MS-DOS FAT32 or ExFAT volume formats are compatible with Windows computers.

Securely Repurpose a Hard Drive

Use the Security Options to format a previously used hard drive. In Security Options, move the slider to select how many times you want the system to erase over the data. During the formatting process, the system erases and writes over old data, preventing old information from being accessed through data recovery programs. So, while it takes longer to erase files, the security of the hard drive is increased. The Zero Out Data Option is the fastest formatting option and provides the most basic security as it erases unused disk space. The 7-Pass Erase or 35-Pass Erase require more time to format a drive to zero out all data.

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Option: Partition the Hard Drive

Create sections called partitions in a large external drive. Each partition appears on your computer as a separate disk. Each partition can be managed as a separate hard drive for organizing folders, storing backup files, or as a hybrid system containing Mac- and Windows-formatted drives. In the Disk Utility, select the external drive from the list on the left and then click the “Partition” tab. Select the number of sections or partitions you want to set up on the hard drive and type a name for each partition. Choose the Volume Format for that partition. Click the “Apply” button to set up the partitioned hard drive.

Which file format should I use?

There are a few file formats that you can use but the one that’s right for your circumstances depends very much on what you are going to be using the drive for. We’ll describe them below, and you’ll be able to choose the one that suits you.

APFS (Apple File System) – This is the new file system that Apple bought to Macs with High Sierra and it will be the default if you are using that version of macOS. There are a number of things that are good about it – such as it being more efficient and more reliable. You can choose an encrypted version and a case-sensitive version. But it won’t be readable or usable by a Mac that isn’t running High Sierra, and Windows or Linux machines won’t be able to read or write either. And it currently only works on SSDs or Flash storage. Read some of the good stuff about APFS here. For now we’d advise against formatting in APFS because it won’t be readable by Macs that aren’t running High Sierra, but this may not matter to you.

MacOS Extended (Journaled) (also known as HFS+) – APFS replaced MacOS Extended as the default file system on the Mac when Apple launched High Sierra in 2017. If your Mac isn’t updated to High Sierra it will offer MacOS Extended as the default. There’s also the option of MacOS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) which is a good choice if you are likely to be carrying your laptop or external drive around and don’t want anyone to access the contents of the drive should you accidentally lose it. You can encrypt your drive and require a password to access it. There’s also an option of MacOS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled, Encrypted) if you are likely to have file names that require capital letters. Windows can read HFS+ drives but can’t write to to format a hard drive for mac mojave

MS-DOS FAT (aka FAT32) – In FAT32’s favour, it can be read and written by Mac, Linux Windows – so you might want to use this if you regularly share drives with PC-owning friends or colleagues and want them to be able to access the files you place on the drive. However, it’s an older file system and files are limited to  4GB or smaller – so it’s not much use if you are copying movie files for example. FAT32 offers no security and it’s more susceptible to disk errors.

ExFAT – this is similar to FAT32 above. Both Windows and Mac can read drives formatted with this. The main difference is it can store files over 4GB.

NTFS – This is Windows’ default file system. MacOS can only read NTFS, it can’t write to it. Although there are third party tools that could allow you to do so.

How to Format an External Drive in OS X

  • 1. Connect the drive to the Mac.
  • 2. Open Disk Utility. The easiest way to do that is hit CMD and the spacebar at the same time and type in Disk Utility to find the program.
  • 3. Select the drive you want to format.
  • 4. Click Erase
  • If you don’t plan on using the drive for Time Machine, skip steps 5 to 11 below and continue with step 12.
  • 5. Give the drive a descriptive name and leave the default settings: OS X Extended format and GUID partition map. These will format the drive in OS X’s HFS+ filetype so it will be compatible with Time Machine.
  • 6. Click Erase and OS X will format the drive.
  • 7. With the drive selected in Disk Utility, click Partition.
  • 8. Enter the amount of space you want to set aside for Time Machine. In this example, we’re shrinking the Time Machine partition to 128 GB instead of allowing Time Machine to take up the whole drive.
  • 9. Click Apply.
  • 10. Select the new untitled partition so we can format it as exFAT for use with both Mac and Windows.
  • 11. Click Erase.
  • 12. Give the partition a name and select exFAT for the format
  • 13. Click Erase to finish.

Your exFAT-formatted drive or partition can now be used for both Windows and Mac. Note that using a drive frequently between Windows and Mac could increase the chances of file corruption, so make sure you have backups of the files on the shared drive and be extra careful about safely ejecting the drive before disconnecting it from your computer.

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How to Format an External Drive in Windows

The instructions below are for Windows 10, but other versions of Windows from Windows 7 and up can also format an external drive as exFAT for use with Mac as well.

  • 1. Connect the drive to your Windows PC.
  • 2. Open the Disk Management tool. You can do that by typing “disk format” or “disk management” in Windows search or going to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Create and format hard disk partitions.
  • 3. Right-click on the external drive’s partition or unallocated space you want to format and choose New Simple Volume…
  • 4. Follow the wizard to choose a volume size.
  • 5. Assign a drive letter.
  • 6. Choose exFAT as the file system in the Format Partition screen.
  • 7. Give the volume a new name.
  • 8. Click Next.
  • 9. Click Finish.

Windows will format the drive as exFAT and you’ll be able to use the drive on both Windows and Mac.


Partitioning an external hard drive allows you to have separate drives for Mac, PC, and any other operating system. Now you don’t have to go out and buy hard drives for every computer you use.

A partition also gives you a dedicated space for your Time Machine back-up files or a bootable backup of your operating system. It also helps protect your data if your drive gets infected with malware, as it would be contained within one of the partitions.