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How to format a Western Digital My Passport to Mac and PC

Updated July 20, 2017

Reformatting a Western Digital My Passport hard drive to function well on Windows and Macintosh systems is neither time-consuming nor technologically demanding. Back up all important information on the drive before beginning; any data left on the drive will be destroyed during the reformatting process. For the most desirable results when reformatting on Windows systems, use Western Digital's Formatting Utility. Due to a system limitation, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista can only create 32GB FAT32 partitions, regardless of the drive's capacity.

Mac OS X

Connect the Western Digital My Passport hard drive to the computer. Power on both devices.

Click the Finder, open the "Applications" folder, open the "Utilities" folder and choose "Disk Utility."

Select the drive you wish to reformat.

Click "Erase," and pull down the Format menu. Choose "FAT32." Enter a hard drive name, if desired.

Click "Erase." A confirmation screen will appear, stating that all information on the drive will be lost if erased. Click "Erase." Once completed, the erased drive will function on both Windows and Macintosh systems.

Windows

Download and install the Western Digital FAT32 Formatting Utility.

Connect the Western Digital My Passport hard drive to the computer. Power on both devices.

Open the FAT32 Formatting Utility and select the desired external hard drive. Ensure that "Restore factory original FAT32 partition" is selected.

Click "Start." A warning message will appear, stating that all data on the drive will be destroyed. Click "OK" to continue. Click "Yes"' to navigate through the prompts.

Tip

Create a backup of all important data before reformatting Western Digital My Passport hard drives. If using a portable computer, make sure it is plugged in before beginning the reformat procedures.

Warning

FAT32 format drives can only recognise files smaller than 4GB. Mac OS X creates invisible files that may appear by default on Windows systems. If those files are moved or changed, the file may become irreparably corrupted. As of Mac OS X 10.6, the system can only read -- not write -- files on NTFS-formatted drives.

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About the Author

Dan Gaunt is a writer in Birmingham, Ala., who focuses on food, travel, and technology. His work has appeared in Cottage Living magazine, Food Arts, and Thicket magazine.