Find out how to format flash drives for Mac and PC

Find out how to format flash drives for Mac and PC

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If it’s important to use a flash drive on each Macs and Home windows PCs, ensure that each programs can learn it. Here is methods to format the drive appropriately.

Whereas there may be plenty of interoperability between Apple’s Mac ecosystem and Home windows computer systems, not all the pieces is totally rosy. One among these areas is information sharing.

Certain, you may depend on a community connection and units like a NAS or a fileserver to deal with information storage between the 2 sides, however it’s not essentially an possibility for everybody.

In some circumstances, you will need to depend on flash drives or exterior onerous drives, and bodily transferring and connecting the storage to every gadget. This may be true in conditions the place there’s plenty of information in use, comparable to video modifying, the place it may be rather a lot faster to go down this route than to work over a community.

Although it appears easy, there’s nonetheless some issues it’s worthwhile to know earlier than taking place this route.

Whereas {hardware} issues are going to be pretty straightforward to work out, comparable to what bodily connections can be found and a price range for drives, there’s one other aspect that may journey individuals up.

The file programs natively utilized by Home windows and macOS are wildly totally different, with safety and different components getting in the best way of with the ability to use them each on the identical laptop.

For instance, in the event you format a drive to NTFS, the file system favored by Home windows, your Mac will have the ability to learn the drive however will not write to it immediately. Likewise, an APFS drive can be readable by a Mac, however on Home windows, you want some additional software program help to work with it.

The reply to the issue is to make use of exFAT, a file system designed to exchange the outdated FAT32 file system. In addition to going far past FAT32’s 4TB most file measurement and 8TB partition measurement limits, exFAT can also be optimized for flash drives, which incorporates thumb drives and exterior storage units.

Formatting a drive in macOS is easy, and is all done via Disk Utility.
Formatting a drive in macOS is simple, and is all achieved by way of Disk Utility.

Handily, each Home windows and macOS play good with exFAT, with every studying from and writing to partitions utilizing the file system.

As a normal rule, if the flash drive you might be utilizing is 32GB in capability or decrease, you need to set it to be MS-DOS(FAT), and save exFAT for drives above 32GB in capability. Nonetheless, as we’re seeing fewer sub-32GB thumb drives in common use, it isn’t a foul factor to stay to utilizing exFAT in such circumstances.


You should use both macOS or Home windows to format the drive into exFAT, because it’s equally usable by each platforms, no matter which formatted it within the first place. What follows are directions for formatting the drive on each platforms.

Find out how to format a flash drive in macOS to make use of on Home windows

  1. Plug the drive into an applicable port on the Mac, or a linked dock’s ports. It should normally seem as a drive on the desktop.
  2. Open Disk Utility, which may be discovered by way of the Launchpad or by utilizing Highlight with Command-Area adopted by looking for the time period “Disk Utility.”
  3. Within the left-hand sidebar, choose the disk you have simply hooked up to the Mac.
  4. Click on Erase within the toolbar.
  5. Within the Erase dialog field, enter a significant title for the drive, then choose ExFAT underneath the Format dropdown.
  6. If the dialog field has a Scheme possibility, set it to Grasp Boot Report.
  7. Click on Erase. As soon as full, click on Completed.

For the Scheme possibility, Apple recommends utilizing Grasp Boot Report to make sure the drive is suitable with all Home windows PCs. You would additionally use GUID Partition Map, however Apple warns that it’s usable by “some newer” PCs, and due to this fact might not work for older PC setups.

It’s best to sometimes use Grasp Boot Report as probably the most suitable possibility for Home windows desktops. You will get away with GUID Partition Map, however there’s that small likelihood of incompatibility.

What you'll see once you finish a disk format in macOS
What you will see when you end a disk format in macOS

At this level, you need to unmount the drive as common, then plug it into your Home windows PC to verify it capabilities as meant.

Find out how to format a flash drive in Home windows for macOS

  1. Plug the drive into the PC.
  2. Open File Explorer, and choose This PC within the sidebar.
  3. Choose then right-click on the drive, and click on Format.
  4. Within the Format window, choose exFAT for the file system.
  5. The Allocation unit measurement refers back to the chunks of capability a file can use, with smaller sizes extra applicable for big numbers of tiny recordsdata. If doubtful, this may be safely left at default settings.
  6. Enter a title for the drive underneath Quantity Label.
  7. If the drive contained delicate info, uncheck Fast Format, in any other case hold it enabled.
  8. Click on Begin, then on the Warning dialog field, click on OK.
  9. As soon as the format has accomplished, click on OK.
Formatting a drive in Windows.
Formatting a drive in Home windows.

Once more, you may unmount the drive and put it onto a Mac to verify it really works as anticipated.

You actually ought to use cloud storage or a NAS in the event you can

Whilst you may carry out file transfers or have a shared information pool utilizing flash drives or different exterior drives, it is probably not the most effective method for many customers.

Strongly think about buying a NAS in your community, particularly if there may be multiple individual that should entry the identical information on the similar time. Utilizing a NAS, a number of customers can entry that information, without having to ask each other for bodily possession of the drive itself.

Then there’s the flexibility to have a number of massive drives at your disposal, offering increased capacities and redundancy relying on the configuration.

And, for extra modest wants, cloud storage works too.

A flash drive is beneficial for information transfers while you’re in a pinch or there is a sense of urgency when there is no different possibility out there. A network-based method is a much better plan to undertake.

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