How to format a USB stick with Mac: Switching from PC to Mac is not as traumatic as someone would like you to believe but, as is logical in these circumstances, you have to take a few weeks to get used to the new system and acquire the necessary confidence with its menus, the its functions and all the tools that are integrated into it. In short, when facing such a radical change, even the most common operations, such as formatting a USB flash drive, require a little more attention. That’s why today I decided to give you a hand and offer you a special step-by-step guide on how to format a USB stick with Mac.
As I said, even if it may seem complicated to you, formatting a USB stick with Mac is actually an extremely simple operation to perform and for the signing up of which only a few minutes of free time are enough. I also want to clarify the fact that, experience in the use of OS X aside, to be able to format a USB stick with Mac you don’t have to be, as they say, “geeks”, really.
Having said that, if you are therefore actually interested in finding out what you need to do to be able to format a USB stick with Mac I suggest you to sit comfortably in front of your Apple brand computer, take a few moments of free time and focus on reading the indications that I am about to give you. So follow this tutorial and you will see that breaking the ice with the Mac world will become less complex than you imagined. Let it bet?
If you want to learn how to format a USB stick with Mac, the first step you need to take is to insert the pendrive on which you want to act and start Disk Utility, the application available as standard on OS X thanks to which it is possible to easily manage various hard drives and external media. Then insert the pendrive in one of the USB ports of your Mac and then click on the item Go attached to the menu bar, then presses up Utility and double-click on the application icon. Alternatively, you can access Disk Utility by logging in to Spotlight pressing on the magnifying glass located in the upper right part of the Desk Mac, typing disk utility in the search bar that is shown to you and by double-clicking on the first displayed result, the one indicated as The best.
In the window that will open at this point select the name of the USB stick from the left sidebar and then click on the button Initialize which is placed at the top.
Now choose the file system you want to use to format the drive from the drop down menu Format. You can clear your ideas more by taking a look at the following list by which I have provided you with all the file systems from which you can choose to format a USB stick with Mac.
- MS-DOS (FAT) – It is a fairly dated file system but precisely for this reason it is able to guarantee a high level of compatibility. In other words, the pendrives that are formatted with this file system can be used, both for reading and for writing, on all computers, all the main operating systems and also on various other devices including tablets, Smart TVs, decoders and DVD / Blu-Ray players. However, apart from this, this file system brings with it some defects that are anything but minor, such as the high fragmentation of data and the impossibility of storing files larger than 4GB. Personally I suggest you format a USB stick with Mac with this file system only if you have to use your pendrive with a large number of devices and you don’t have to use it to host large files.
- ExFAT – It is a file system which, as the name suggests, is nothing more than an evolution of MS-DOS (FAT) which reduces the level of data fragmentation and eliminates the 4GB weight limit. This file system is not as compatible as the previous one but is still supported without particular problems by all the main operating systems for PC and by many other devices including Smart TV, decoder, tablet and living room player. Personally I suggest you format a USB stick with Mac with this file system if you need to use your pendrive not only in conjunction with OS X.
- Mac OS extended – This is the default file system of OS X. It does not have particular limits for the size of the files and does not generate much fragmentation but its degree of compatibility outside the Mac world is extremely poor. Personally, I suggest you format a USB stick with Mac with this file system only if the stick is to be used only in conjunction with OS X.
If you wish, before starting the actual procedure to format a USB stick with Mac, you can also determine the degree of security with which to carry out the operation. If you are wondering what it is, know that the infrequent security is nothing more than the number of times the data on the device to be formatted must be overwritten. Several times a file is overwritten and the fewer the chances that it can be recovered through special software such as the ones I mentioned in my guide on how to recover deleted files. It is therefore up to you to choose, based on your personal needs, if and how to adjust this setting.
In case you have to choose to adjust the security level of the formatting, after clicking on the button Initialize located at the top of the Disk Utility window presses the button Security Options …. Once this is done you will be shown an adjustment bar that will allow you to choose whether to perform a very fast but not very safe or very safe but slower format. All in all there are four increasing durability and safety modes to choose from. Generally overwriting the data once is more than enough but if it can make you feel more comfortable position the cursor directly at the entry Safer. Keep in mind that in this way the time needed to complete the procedure to format the key will go a lot longer. After choosing the desired mode, press the button OK to confirm the application of the changes made.
Proceed now going to assign any name to the USB stick by typing it in the field First name, leave the option selected under the item unchanged scheme and start the formatting procedure by clicking on the button Initialize.
Once the procedure for formatting a USB stick with Mac has been started, in a few seconds you will be shown a blue progress bar located in the center of the window and indicating the degree of completion of the operation. When finished, press the button end.
At this point you can say satisfied: you managed to format your USB stick with OS X, congratulations. Now that you have finally completed the whole procedure, you can start using the pendrive again as you see fit. I recommend, however, if you need to disconnect it from the Mac before performing this operation, drag and drop the key icon on the desktop onto the icon of the Trash can attached to Dock until you see the button icon appear Eject. It is essential to be able to properly disconnect the key from the Mac and prevent errors or problems of various kinds from arising. Alternatively, you can disconnect the USB stick you have just formatted from the Mac by right-clicking on its icon on the desktop and then choosing the item Eject “key name” (instead of key name the name of the pendrive is indicated).
Now that you understand how to format a USB stick with Mac there is one last thing that I think you should know before … “free yourself”. As you have surely noticed, among the options for formatting USB flash drives on Mac there is the one relating to the file system NTFS. I bet you’re wondering why.
You should know that the NTFS file system was designed by Microsoft for Windows systems and on Macs it is only supported for reading, not writing, unless you decide to use third-party drivers. If the question interests you, I will explain immediately how to activate full NTFS support on Mac using some free software, which do not guarantee the same performance as the paid ones (in terms of writing speed and formatting) but they work quite well and are supported even from the latest versions of OS X.
- To begin with, get the software OSXFUSE. To do this click here to connect to the program’s website and click on the first icon located in the right column, under the heading Stable Releases. When the download is complete, open the OSXFUSE installation package and start the file Install OSXFUSE 2.7 contained within it. Now follow the wizard and take care to put the check mark next to the item MacFUSE Compatibility layer.
- Secondly you have to install NTFS-3G. Click here to connect to the website of the resource and click on the link located under the heading Download. Once the download is complete, open the program installation package and start the file Install NTFS – 3G which is located inside. Now follow the wizard and take care to put the check mark next to the item No caching. Don’t restart your Mac!
- Finally, download the software FUSE Wait. To do this click here to connect to the program’s website, then click on the link fuse_wait-1.1.pkg to also download this software on your Mac. Then start the app installation package and follow the installation wizard.
At this point, restart the computer and then connect the pendrive to the Mac again and start Disk Utility. tab Initialize related to your USB stick you should now also find the entry Windows NT filesystem (NTFS – 3G) in the menu for choosing the file system to be used when formatting the drive. If you need further details you can consult my guide on how to format NTFS with Mac in which I explained step by step the whole procedure to be performed to format a USB stick with Mac using the NTFS file system.