Kim Barloso

How to format an sd card on a Mac OS


Before formatting, decide what system the drive will work with after formatting. Windows and OS X use different flash drive file system formats. This article discusses both versions.

Order!When the drive is formatted and partitioned, all data will be deleted. Check if there are any /files left on the device that you would like to keep.

Means :

    How to format an OS X flash drive

    To format a USB flash drive on your Mac you should use the standard "Disk Utility". It is located in the "Programs" - "Utilities" folder.

    1. Insert the USB flash drive into the USB connector.
    2. Open the Disk Utility.

    3. In the side panel locate the "External" subsection.
    4. Click the Drive.
    5. In the top pane of the Disk Utility click "Erase".

    6. Select "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" in the "Format" menu (to make the drive readable on macbook).
    7. Click the "Erase" button and confirm.
    8. The erase time varies depending on the size and speed of the memory card, once finished the drive may be used immediately.

    Selecting the Windows Format (FAT / NTFS)

    Before you format the USB device you may select the file system format in "Disk Utility". There are two types available for Microsoft operating system drives:

    • NTFS. A modern format with no memory limit. All modern flash devices and hard drives work on NTFS. The drawback for Mac owners is that OS X does not support NTFS.
    • FAT32 or exFAT. The former is already deprecated, you cannot write more than 4GB on a flash drive with that format. exFAT has no such limitations. The FAT format is supported by both OS X and Windows. Not all the drives can be formatted in exFAT.

    If you choose exFAT only versions of Windows XP2 and higher can read it. You can format to FAT using the standard "Disk Utility" on Mac OS X, NTFS requires additional software.

    1. Open "Disk Utility",

    2. Select your HDD and click on "Erase",
    3. The section "Format" should indicate MS-DOS FAT or exFAT.

    4. Run the wipe and your USB device is now readable in both Windows and OS X.

    Install NTFS formatting instructions for Windows

    For this task you should install NTFS drivers on your Mac. This can be done using the free Seagate NTFS or SD Formatter software. Install the new software and reboot your computer. Begin formatting the flash drive to NTFS:

    1. Insert the flash drive into a USB connector
    2. Open "Disk Utility".
    3. Select the desired device from the list and click on "Erase".
    4. New label "Windows NT File System (Tuxera NTFS)" appears in the "Format" menu.

    It is ready, now you can use the flash drive in Windows, no memory limitations. You can change the format of the flash drive at any time you need.

    Partitioning the flash drive

    The Disk Utility provides the possibility to partition the drive. For example it is possible to make the first partition into FAT and the second into NTFS. To do so:

    1. launch "Disk Utility",
    2. find the drive in the side menu and click on "Partition".

    The number and size are set in the "Partition Scheme". Come up with a name for each partition and under the "Format" tab set a suitable file system. For stable operation it's recommended to use a flash drive with 16GB or more.

    Programs to format flash drive in OS X

    Standard utility performs popular tasks for the average user. Other formatting programs may be used as alternatives.

    SD Formatter

    The application was created by a company that makes all modern memory cards. A great solution if you need to format your smartphone or camera MicroSD. We recommend you download the program only from the official site.

    SD Formatter is capable of formatting any device and file system. The user is able to choose between the quick format and the overwrite format.

    According to the compatibility of the software with USB memory sticks, the format procedure does not harm the device.

    SD Formatter supports SDXC and microSDXC cards with capacities ranging from 32GB to 2TB.


    Another handy alternative that allows you to partition, delete and format drives including removable storage. The cleanup process takes a few minutes, with formatting following the same pattern for a simple flash drive and an external hard drive. The free trial version is sufficient for common tasks and if you like it, you can purchase the full package from the official site.


    There are also professional products for Mac OS X such as VolumeWorks. Their purpose is to optimize, maintain and recover drives with different file systems. Professional software is usually used in service centers, so it is priced accordingly.

    “Hello. My name is Kim. I discovered that technology, when used with a purpose, can be pretty amazing. To share the wonder of tech, I’ve written for blogs like and With over three years of freelance writing experience in the technology and entertainment niche, I can write a storm about a software app, a cool browser extension, a new mobile device and other geek-centric stuf... “

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    Kim Barloso