How to Format External Hard Drives

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Formatting a drive to work with Mac and PC

Location: Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility - fig.1


1) Plug-in your device. Either a Thumb Drive, External Hard Drive by USB (universal system bus), or FireWire will work. An icon will show up on the desktop. - fig.2


2) Open Disk Utility

3) To format the disk, select the device and not the partition. Then select the Erase tab. In the volume format, select ExFAT. This will set the formatting of the drive which will be both usable by OS X and Windows. - fig.3


4) Name your drive (preferably the owner’s name) and then click the Erase button in the lower right corner. The message below will show up, asking if you are sure you want to format this disk (all information on it will be lost). Once you're sure, click Erase. - fig.4


5) The volume is now being formatted for ExFAT. Time will vary with the size and speed of the disk you are formatting.

6) While the partitioning and formatting process is active, the disk will be removed from the desktop. This is normal. Once it is done processing, the disk should re-appear.

7) Once it has processed, the disk will appear back in Disk Utility. You can now eject your device, by dragging it to the trash or selecting the device in Disk Utility and selecting the Eject button in the upper right corner.

8) If you intend to use the device with Mac OS X ONLY (more stable), select the Mac OS Extended Volume Format. Installing OS 9 drivers is not necessary, unless the user is planning on using this device with OS 9. Click Erase to proceed. Once again, it will make sure that you know that you will destroy all the volume information on this disk. - fig.5


9) Once the format has finished, the icon will reappear with the name of your choice and you can now safely eject. - fig.6