How to Format a Flash Drive to Work With a Mac & a PC

Written by k.c. winslow
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In the computer world, flash drives--also called USB flash drives--have replaced rewritable discs as means of saving and transferring data. Early flash drives had low memory capacities of 8 to 36 MB. Flash drive memory capacities have since grown to hold gigabytes of information. Users can format flash drives to work on both Macs and PCs at the same time. Both operating systems read the FAT32 drive format.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Macintosh computer

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Insert the flash drive in your Mac.

  2. 2

    Go to the "Applications" folder, open the "Utilities" folder and double-click on "Disk Utility."

  3. 3

    Highlight the flash drive icon in the menu on the left-hand side of the screen. Select the "Erase" tab from the menu in the centre of the window.

  4. 4

    Format the flash drive to work with Macs and PCs by selecting "MS-DOS(FAT)" from the Volume Format pull-down menu. Press the "Erase" button and confirm that you want to format the drive in the on-screen prompt.

Tips and warnings

  • Many flash drives come pre-formatted as FAT32 and will work on Mac and PC without any additional steps. Check the manufacturer's information for the flash drive to find out if your flash drive is pre-formatted.
  • Formatting a flash drive will erase all the information on it. Back up any important files before you attempt to format a flash drive.

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