How to Format an External or USB Drive on Mac OS X With Ease

There are many reasons why an external drive or USB drive would need to be formatted. Maybe you want to change to a different file system. Or maybe you need to fix a corrupted or unreadable drive.

Or, as in my case, you just want a one-click method for clearing the contents and turning the drive into a clean slate for use again.

Whatever the reason, OS X makes it super easy to format any external drive to whatever file system you want — much easier than in Windows or Linux, if you ask me.


Warning: Formatting a drive erases all of the data on it so be sure to back up your data first! If you accidentally format without backing up, you may be able to recover your data after the fact but no guarantees.

To format a drive:

  • Launch the Disk Utility app.
  • Select the external drive in the left sidebar.
  • Click on Erase in the top button bar.
  • Give the drive a new name, select the file system you want, and keep the scheme as GUID Partition Map unless you know what you’re doing and need a different type.
  • Click Erase and you’re done.

It shouldn’t take long. Once it’s over, your drive will be formatted and ready to use.

Is there another way to format external drives in Mac OS X? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: USB Drive via Shutterstock

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